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JAM | Jul 10, 2024

Holness announces REACH programme for Hurricane Beryl relief, allocates J$4 million per constituency

Vanassa McKenzie

Vanassa McKenzie / Our Today

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Prime Minister Andrew Holness speaking in Parliament on Tuesday, July 9, (YouTube screen grab:JIS)

The Relief Emergency Assistance and Community Help (REACH) programme will form a critical part of the national relief efforts for Jamaicans following the impact of Hurricane Beryl, Prime Minister Andrew Holness has declared.

Holness, who made the announcement in Parliament on Tuesday (July 9), said the major elements of the programme will include the distribution of food and essential supplies, utility, water, electricity, and telecommunications restoration, housing, reconstruction support, economic support, and the restoration of livelihoods.

“In terms of the distribution of food and essential supplies, Madam Speaker, the Ministry of Labour and Social Security has been distributing care packages containing tin foods, flour, rice, cooking oil, and other items through their network of social workers. These care packages contain enough food for a family of four for four days. By today, approximately 5,000 families would have received care packages,” he noted.

The prime minister indicated that the government is coordinating the continued distribution of food, water, and other essential supplies to citizens in the most affected areas. 

“Madam Speaker, we are aware that one of the critical needs is the provision of medications, particularly those that need refrigeration. The Ministry of Health and Wellness has issued a release providing guidance in this regard,” Holness noted.

(Photo: Wikipedia.org)

Additionally, he said focus is being given to dengue mitigation in communities to prevent possible outbreaks.

Meanwhile, Holness urged Members of Parliament to respond to the critical needs of their constituents but not replace Government ministries tasked in this regard.

Holness also announced an additional allocation to constituencies to assist in recovery efforts. Some J$4 million will be allocated to each constituency.

However, the prime minister noted that MPs must complete the expenditure of the first allocation received to receive the second allocation. He said this allocation will be geared towards assisting citizens recover from any infrastructure damage that may have occurred.

Everton Evanks stands in his room where the roof has been completely pulled apart in the aftermath of Hurricane Beryl, in St. Elizabeth Parish, Jamaica, July 5, 2024. (Photo: REUTERS/Maria Alejandra Cardona)

An additional J$3 million will be allocated to constituencies that have suffered severe damage following an assessment by the Office of Disaster and Preparedness Emergency Management (ODPEM).

“I want to be clear, Madam Speaker, as I am speaking about Members of Parliament, the distribution of relief must be done in a non-partisan way. The distribution of relief must be done by all Members of Parliament who are involved in it in a non-partisan way. There is no colour or affiliation in a catastrophe or a disaster,” Holness stressed.

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