The Caribbean region has not escaped the COVID-19 pandemic. In the Dominican Republic and Haiti, around 122 000 people have been infected to date and thousands of households have lost a family member.
COVID-19 awareness campaigns
In response, the European Union and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ), coming together as Team Europe, have been working with the Dominican Republic and Haiti to reduce the risk of the virus spreading in the most vulnerable communities in the Pedernales river basin, which straddles the two countries. This latest support is part of an EU-funded environment, climate change and disaster risk management project in the river basin that commenced in 2019 and is due to run until 2022. The €6.3 million project, itself part of the EU’s Binational Programme with the Dominican Republic and Haiti, is designed to make both countries better equipped to work together on disaster risk reduction and sustainable management of natural resources, using measures to adapt to climate change.
We have reached corners where there is no internet connection, TV or radio – and people really have got the message.
Jakson Amador, response committee coordinator, Los Cayucos
The support from Team Europe is varied, and includes:
- basic hygiene supplies, thermometers and other vital equipment, megaphones and printed materials to assist civil protection efforts in both countries;
- COVID-19 prevention and awareness campaigns, through both direct community intervention and media messaging, with a focus on the radio and WhatsApp, two of the main channels that people use to obtain information; and
- masks and temperature gauges, donated to allow work with local producers under the project to continue, in line with World Health Organization biosafety rules.
For Jakson Amador, coordinator of the prevention, mitigation and response committee in the Los Cayucos area of Pedernales, the project’s support has played a key role in giving people clear guidance on how to wear their masks and wash their hands properly to stop the virus spreading. “Thanks to the prevention messages we issue using the megaphones donated by the European Union, we have reached corners where there is no internet connection, TV or radio – and people really have got the message”, he says.
Reforestation, agroforestry and soil conservation during the pandemic
At the same time, distributing the masks and implementing the other precautionary measures has meant that the project can keep pursuing its original aim of supporting local producers with plants to increase forest and vegetation cover. Thanks to the project, food remains available, more products can be grown in larger planting areas, and the harvested produce delivers economic benefits. All this is making the agricultural systems in the Dominican Republic and Haiti more resilient over the medium and long term.