WASHINGTON—Doug Domenech, U.S. Department of the Interior Assistant Secretary, Insular and International Affairs, this week released an additional $198,051 in fiscal year 2018 technical assistance program grants for the U.S. Virgin Islands to help streamline the coordination of recovery assistance on St. Croix and to expand water storage capacity and upgrade irrigation systems in support of farmers on St. Thomas.
“Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has asked that the Department do all it can to support the recovery of the Virgin Islands from last year’s storms,” said Domenech. “These grants continue this effort.”
USVI Department of Agriculture: $185,051 to construct a water cistern and upgrade existing irrigation and distribution capacity for farmers in the Bordeaux Farming Community on St. Thomas. A 100,000-gallon cistern will be built to augment the current storage capacity of 6,000 gallons, nearly doubling the number of farms served to twelve and allowing for increased food production locally. The USVI Department of Agriculture’s goal has been to increase the amount of locally-grown fresh food and improve food security. Following the hurricanes in 2017, the territory was reduced to 100% reliance on food imports for several months.
St. Croix Foundation for Community Development: $13,000 will be used to develop a community-wide engagement initiative with Open Space Technology to facilitate recovery assistance needs and efforts across multiple agencies and organizations. The plan is to build upon successful recovery work that is already underway, highlight areas of concern, and foster greater collaboration across government, private sector, and philanthropic organizations throughout the community. The St. Croix Foundation is working in close collaboration with FEMA and other community leaders on this initiative.
Funding for these grants were made available through the Department of the Interior’s Office of Insular Affairs’ Technical Assistance Program. Applications for these funds are generally submitted to OIA from October through May of each year. Once OIA receives appropriations from the U.S. Congress, the applications are reviewed and funds are awarded until they are exhausted.
OIA has done its best to support the USVI in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017. All funding announcements that have been made on behalf of the USVI for fiscal year 2018 amount to $3 million, $1.2 million, $827,812, $567,500, and $223 million. (PR)