Residents and businesses next to the landfill in the process of being relocated
- Published in Soualiga News
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SINT MAARTEN (PHILIPSBURG) - With the full support and commitment of the Government of Sint Maarten, the National Recovery Program Bureau (NRPB) has begun the process of resettling the community in the area next to the landfill on Pond Island. This activity, which is part of the Sint Maarten Trust Fund’s Debris Management Project (EDMP), will help pave the way for better management of the country’s solid waste.
The community’s resettlement is a major step in reforming Sint Maarten’s system of solid waste management. Since 2019, several commissioned studies have demonstrated the risks to the community living and working in the immediate vicinity to the landfill. These include exposure to air, soil, and water pollution, and the risk of the landfill’s slopes collapsing. To mitigate these risks, a buffer zone on the land next to the landfill is being developed, free of homes and businesses.
On behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten, former Sint Maarten lieutenant governor Mr. Franklyn Richards has been appointed as High-Level Focal Point for the resettlement process. In this role, Mr. Richards is supporting the resettlement process by identifying bottlenecks and proposing alternative solutions where possible.
“I thank the Government of Sint Maarten for selecting me as the High-Level Focal Point,” said Mr. Richards. “In this capacity I will do my utmost to assist the NRPB in executing the Government’s vision to improve the quality of life of our residents; in particular those who reside in close proximity of the disposal site, which is undoubtedly unhealthy and unsafe.”
The forthcoming relocation of residents and businesses in the area will be guided by a comprehensive Resettlement Action Plan (RAP). The NRPB, in close collaboration with the Government of Sint Maarten, developed the RAP through a series of surveys and consultations with the affected community. The World Bank’s environmental and social safeguard regulations provided the guiding values of the RAP, recognizing the human rights and safety of those being asked to leave their homes and adapt their livelihoods.
The community will be relocated out of the area next to the landfill in phases. Eligible residents and businesses will be compensated based on their affected assets. For this, a valuation methodology was developed according to the World Bank’s policies on involuntary resettlement.
It is expected that the resettlement activities will take between 12 and 18 months to complete, with a scheduled end in the first quarter of 2024. The RAP can be viewed and downloaded in its entirety at www.nrpbsxm.org/resettlement.
Within the next five (5) years, EDMP will oversee the construction of waste processing facilities near the landfill, which will identify and sort incoming waste from the country’s neighborhoods and allow for adequate disposal methods to take place, in line with regional and international standards.
To ensure the sustainability of EDMP’s US $85 million investment into the solid waste sector, the Government of Sint Maarten is simultaneously implementing the project Moving to Integrated Solid Waste Management on Sint Maarten (ISWM-SXM), with the support of the NRPB and the International Cooperation Agency of the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG International). Under ISWM-SXM, the project team will support the Government’s efforts to establish Solid Waste Authority that will oversee the entire solid waste management sector. The waste processing facilities built under EDMP are expected to be transferred to the Solid Waste Authority.
“These two projects, EDMP and ISWM-SXM, are working together to achieve more sustainable means of disposing of the waste generated in our homes, offices, and places of recreation. With the dedication and hard work of the Government of Sint Maarten, the World Bank, NRPB, and VNG International, I’m confident that we will achieve a great success that future generations will be proud of,” said NRPB Director Claret Connor.
The Sint Maarten Trust Fund is financed by the Government of the Netherlands, managed by the World Bank, and implemented by the NRPB on behalf of the Government of Sint Maarten.
A view of the Resettlement Area of Impact (in foreground) taken from the main landfill on Pond Island.