SMDF, Cordaid partner for St. Maarten communities

From left: Cordaid Humanitarian Aid Programme Manager Dilanga Manuwera, Ebenezer Community Council representative Carmen Lake-Reyes, Belvedere Community Foundation representative Jessica Lake-Richardson, South Reward Community Collective representatives Aishira Cecilia and Eve Levenstone, Dutch Quarter Community Council representatives Sidney de Weever and Eric van Putten, and SMDF Programme and Development Manager Makhicia Brooks.


CUL DE SAC–St. Maarten Development Fund (SMDF) has forged a partnership with Dutch humanitarian aid agency Cordaid that will result in financing for several projects.

The relationship between the two organisations began almost immediately after Hurricane Irma’s passage. In the past few months “we have been working jointly to create contextualised projects that will benefit St. Maarten,” said SMDF Programme and Development Manager Makhicia Brooks.

After Irma, Cordaid provided tarpaulins for residents via community councils, reaching some 200 households. Working with the councils, Cordaid saw the possibilities for community-centred disaster preparedness projects.

Like Cordaid, SMDF also sees the intrinsic value of community organizations. “In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, we all saw the importance of these organisations, as they became the avenues to get supplies to residents,” said Brooks.

While SMDF and Cordaid both hope the island will be spared this hurricane season, they are preparing for a worst-case scenario where community mobilisation will be extremely important.

Following its global commitment to implementing via local partnerships, Cordaid is partnering with SMDF as its local implementing agency. The partnership, described as a win-win-win, will be carried out over a three-month period.

The projects, all of which were proposed by the community organisations, will begin this coming week. They include repairs to the Dutch Quarter Community Centre, installing a generator at Belvedere Community Centre, placing crisis containers in South Reward and drilling a well in Ebenezer.

“Through this project, Cordaid will continue its mission to respond to humanitarian crises as they arise, SMDF will be able to implement community improvement projects and a number of communities will see improvements to their environments,” said Cordaid humanitarian aid Programme Manager Dilanga Manuweera.

Cordaid and SMDF will host disaster preparedness workshops for community-based organisations at University of St. Martin (USM). The goal is to provide tools for risk assessment, community mobilisation and disaster preparedness and response.

“While some question the value of these organisations, SMDF sees their significance and we choose to invest in these institutions to strengthen their capacities,” said Brooks.

Source: The Daily Herald