This past Saturday three micro projects were handed over to three communities in the Corozal District. The projects were carried out by the Belize Red Cross with funding from the UNDP Global Environmental Facility Small Grant Program. The recipients were the residents of Copper Bank, Chunox and Sarteneja Village. Love News spoke to Lily Bowman, Director General at the Belize Red Cross.

Lily Bowman; Director General

"The micro-projects that were handed over were as a result of a twelve month program and the project's aim was to strengthen the capacity of the communities of Copper Bank, Chunox and Sarteneja to be prepared for and respond to the increasing threats associated with extreme climate events. The project started in 2008 and with the handing over of the micro-projects. It included different activities like training our volunteers from the Corozal branch and strengthening them to be able to work with the communities and we formed national intervention team members within the branch. We also formed community disaster response teams in the three communities and now these people are better prepared to respond to the impact of disasters and to be able to identify their risks and mitigate them."

After each village was assessed in order to identify their vulnerabilities and capacities, it was decided that Copper Bank needed culverts and drains, Chunox needed bathroom facilities and Sarteneja's elementary school needed a water system.

Lily Bowman

"The villages developed contingency plans for emergency for their respective village and information and awareness campaigns were implemented, drill exercises and evaluations were implemented and the three micro-projects were; in Chunox the safe water tower and tank that was installed at the RC School, which is also a shelter, in Sateneja there was a toilet block that was built with three toilets for the students, with a section for males, a section for females and a section for teachers. That was a big improvement for them because they are no where near to that improvement before. In copper bank there were four culverts done in the two main streets for drainage purposes. These were small scale mitigation works based on the needs identified through the VPA process in each community."

Bowman says that the Red Cross worked very closely with the National Emergency Management Organization at the district level to ensure that the villagers were prepared to respond to threats from extreme climatic events.