During April 26–28, an EU delegation concluded a mission to Saint Lucia which included meetings with the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), officials from the Government of Saint Lucia, and national implementing agencies. Delegates conducted site visits to several ongoing EU-funded Climate Change and Disaster Resilience projects and proposed sites for Ecosystem-based approaches and sustainable livelihoods initiatives, many of which are being undertaken in partnership with the OECS. The delegation comprised Jose Legarra, Project Manager for Environment, Biodiversity and Infrastructure, Susanna Fuertes Project Manager for Climate Change, and Donna Gittens, Project Manager for Climate Change.
They visited three rural communities and the Saint Lucia Met Office, which are beneficiaries of an EU-funded, four-year €12-million project, which aims to strengthen the Climate Risk Management Framework in the 16 CARIFORUM member countries. The project activities are being executed in partnership with the OECS and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC). The first visit was to the Vanard water intake, where a watershed management, protection, and infrastructure upgrade is being undertaken. These upgrades will address water shortages and distribution in Vanard and its surrounding communities.
Community resident and farmer, Mary Emelyn Charles, is optimistic about its prospects. Speaking during the site visit, she said, “I hope we get more water and better quality because we will have enough coming from that area.”
The second visit was to the community of Des Barras, where an upgrade to the water treatment facility and water treatment process is being made. This facility will operate using renewable energy technology. The third was to the Plain View Combined School in La Retraite, Vieux Fort, where infrastructure will be put in place to improve water availability at the educational institution. During the visit to the Saint Lucia Met Office, delegates saw first-hand the aged meteorological equipment that will be replaced with new modern ones.
Other site visits included touring the Anse-la-Raye Village mangrove area and the Praslin Bay, which will be beneficiaries of the Biodiversity Support for ACP Coastal Environments (BioSPACE) Project – another EU funded project being executed in nine OECS Member States. The implementors of the project are exploring the possibility of making the Anse-la-Raye mangrove area a relaxation spot for Saint Lucian citizens, to serve as a tourist attraction, and contribute to the livelihoods of community residents. For the Praslin community, a sargassum digestor is being built nearby to deal with the huge influx of sargassum currently affecting both the lives and livelihoods of the small fishing community.
A visit was made to the Fond St. Jacques community in Soufriere, where a meeting and site demonstration were conducted for a project activity financed through the Integrated Landscape Approaches and Investments in Sustainable Land Management Project in the OECS – another EU funded project being executed in nine OECS Member States. The initiative in Fond St. Jacques seeks to enhance capacities to improve land-use management, reverse land degradation and ecosystem loss, specifically forests.
The delegation also visited other EU funded projects being executed in partnership with the Government of Saint Lucia, including the Vanard to Anse-la-Raye link road reconstruction project, the Piaye bridge project, and the Dennery Water Treatment Plant.
During a closing meeting, the OECS thanked the delegation for the EU’s commitment to the Region and pledged to continue working together to deal with critical issues affecting the region and to better the lives of its people.