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Arrangements for the CARICOM Village at Davy Hill, Montserrat were put on the fast-track following the second meeting of the Regional Resource team for Montserrat on September 24.

Chairman of CARICOM, the Rt Hon. Percival Patterson turned the sod to begin construction of the village on August 25 and the prefabricated housing units are being purchased at concessionary rates from Cuba. The infrastructure for the site of the CARICOM Village is currently being put in place by the British Government.

Last week’s Meeting also confirmed arrangements for the deployment of a contingent of the Jamaica Defence Force (JDF) to assist in the construction effort. The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) will coordinate the activities.

The Chief Minister of Montserrat the Hon. David Brandt, who attended the meeting, expressed his profound gratitude for the support being given to Montserrat by CARICOM and through the United Nations Development Programme in the Caribbean.

He said that the lack of housing was still the most pressing problem for the island where just over 4,000 of the 11,000 population remain. The Government and people of Montserrat are hoping to establish new residential areas and business centres in the north of the island away from the Soufriere Hills Volcano which has been erupting since 18 July 1995.

The main activity of RRT is the provision of a range of experts and technical assistance to the island’s health sector as well as the provision of the services of a physical planner, a civil engineer, surveyor and agricultural consultants among others.

The RRT elaborated a new scheme of initiatives which are expected to garner wide regional support. These include assisting Montserrat’s formulation of its five year development programme, the construction of three new roads, shelter improvement and the establishment of outlets for small business operations on the island.

Discussions are focussed on a project for the development of home yard subsistence agriculture as a way of addressing the problem of the recurring shortage of fresh food on Montserrat. The Government of Montserrat has also been asked to consider how it wished to utilise US$4.5 million allocated to it under Lomé IV and available through CARIFORUM.

Mr Brandt said the RRT programme was indispensable to providing the capacity currently unavailable on the island and brings an important cultural ingredient to a number of other development projects being financed by the British Government.

The British and Montserrat Governments recently agreed to the formulation of a five year development plan for the island which includes the construction of a new airport.

The Second Meeting of the RRT was attended by representatives of the Government of Montserrat including Mr Brandt, representatives from the CARICOM Secretariat (Coordinator); the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA); Caribbean Development Bank (CDB); Caribbean Agriculture Research and Development Institute (CARDI); United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); and the United Nations Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS).

The RRT was established by the Eighth Intersessional Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government, in February 1997, to deliver a comprehensive programme of assistance to Montserrat.

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