Fully in line with this, the program supported urban infrastructure for socially deprived areas on all five islands of the Netherlands Antilles, advancing the focal sector identified in the Single Programming Document, which comprised of:
- Improvement of social infrastructure in existing communities (water, sanitation electricity, roads, street lighting, drainage, etc.);
- Basic social infrastructure in new, low-rent, housing sites and improved housing techniques (to stimulate private-sector housing development);
- Capacity building and institutional strengthening of urban infrastructure providers and other stakeholders, including community groups.
In line with Government's own commitment to alleviating poverty and promoting healthy living conditions, the government of St. Maarten elected to pursue the same course for the 10th EDF. The process of approval of the 10th EDF Single Program Document transcended the status change in October 2010. However, the process was not completed by that date and so country St. Maarten took up the task to complete the approval process. It was just over a year ago that as the Territorial Authorizing Officer, I officially submitted St. Maarten's approval of its part of the SPD. After the final approvals were given, the Delegation could have submitted the document for EU approval. But that was not before we had some last minute hurdles to overcome.
District Improvement and Social Welfare are 2 areas outlined by this Government in its governing accord as focal areas for our governing term. We did this, fully understanding that if we wished to engage our citizens in nation building, it starts with a sense of pride in the individual communities. Pride that comes from the realization that government is "working for the people".
Data collected as part of the Integrated Neighborhood Development program reveal that while overall there is a general feeling of satisfaction in most neighborhoods, there is much that can be done and should be done to elevate that feeling to one of belonging and pride.
This project will go a long way in alleviating much of the irritants St. Maarten communities face and specifically so, this district of Dutch Quarter.
The general objective is improvement of the living conditions and assist with poverty alleviation in St. Maarten.
The specific objective or purpose of the project is the improvement of infrastructure and sanitation conditions in this district that will include:
The installation of a sewerage network by provision of branch sewers in Dutch Quarter to be connected to the existing main sewer line to the WWTP facility at A.T. Illidge Road. In addition infrastructural upgrading will take place plus the installation of a drink water storage tank for the Dutch Quarter district.
The 10th EDF project will coincide well with the actual upgrading of the treatment plant at A.T. Illidge Road.
The project will also have a strong environmental benefit leading to improved drinking water quality and the elimination of wastewater on the streets. This will also reduce the pollution of surface water bodies. The latter, will also contribute to improved sanitation and consequently reduced risks to public health. The number of beneficiaries will be up to 3,000 depending on the coverage.
These interconnected areas are what government envisions with its commitment to sustainable development. The concept of sustainable development, now a global term and a topic for high level United Nations' actions, embraces the notion that economic growth, social equality, and environmental sustainability are joint prerequisites for the long term sustainability of countries, big and small alike.
No small order, surely, but one I believe St. Maarten can make a name for itself by leaving no area lagging behind as we seek the means for further development of our island and its people.
Coincidentally this was precisely the topic that close to 200 nations gathered in Rio last week addressed. Our challenges are by no means insignificant, but put in a global perspective, I think we can develop a collective vision for (to borrow a phrase from the same conference) "the future WE want".
It behooves our island nation, like we have for the MDG's, to also chart our benchmarks for the SDG's we envisaged.
Summarizing shat this particular project will mean for the district of DQ:
- Reduced pollution to neighboring ponds
- Home connections to the existing main sewer
- Branch sewers and corresponding home connections
- Hard surfacing of roads throughout the district
- Improved overall drainage system
- Reduced flooding
- Improved street, lighting and, pedestrian paths
- Improved safety (community)
I sum these up (as several persons have done before me) for the following reasons:
I want to express the gratitude of my government to the Delegation for their relentless drive in seeing this project through to this point;
I express thanks to our own technocrats of VROMI and BAK;
And importantly, I call on the residents of DQ to work with us in realizing this important upgrading of DQ. As with any project of this magnitude, it will bring with it some inconvenience, but I am convinced it will be worth it. As this project goes on, I invite all of you and in particular the council of the district to work with government in other areas, that can contribute as well to the overall uplifting of DQ.
And finally, I appeal to the DQ residents to show pride in the district you call home. Show a sense of community by taking active part in activities that promote this community and its residents.
"The greater the challenges, the more gratifying the sense of accomplishment at the end of the road".