27 Jul 2018

In the wake of Hurricane Irma, Royal HaskoningDHV visited Havana, Cuba, last week as part of a risk reduction team for flood and climate change protection in the city.
Hurricane site | Royal HaskoningDHV

Royal HaskoningDHV formed part of a risk reduction team that last week visited Havana, Cuba, to share expertise on flood and climate change protection in the wake of Hurricane Irma.

The Dutch Risk Reduction Team (DRR-Team) is an initiative created by the Dutch government and water sector to share the country’s well-respected flood prevention expertise worldwide. The programme is executed by the Netherlands Water Partnership (NWP) and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO).

In September 2017, Hurricane Irma hit Cuba’s north coast and caused major flooding in its capital, Havana. As the hurricane season approaches for 2018, Cuba anticipates that at least three tropical storms will hit the island or pass close by.

As climate change intensifies, strengthening its defences against extreme weather is an urgent priority for Cuba. The visit was organised by the country’s Environment Agency to seek advice and collaboration on risk reduction strategy. Within this, a key focus is coastal protection for the Malecón of Havana, Cuba’s famous promenade and sea wall.

Royal HaskoningDHV Water Project Manager Arend van de Kerk took part in the visit, together with Dutch flood prevention experts Joana van Nieuwkoop, coastal expert from Deltares, and Marinus Pool, an international consultant. The trip involved visits to key flood risk sites in Havana as well as roundtable sessions to facilitate collaboration and partnership.

Arend van de Kerk said: “I’ve been impressed with the expertise already available within Cuba. We mustn’t forget that the Malecon in Havana has protected the city for more than a century; an impressive feat of historical engineering.

“Our support will help Cuba strengthen its defences for the future, where climate change is likely to present even greater challenges. I’m proud that we can share Dutch water expertise to help protect Cuba’s citizens and cultural heritage in the decades to come.”

The Dutch Risk Reduction Team is a government-to-government initiative sending project teams across the globe. Its experts advise on disaster prevention from mitigation, preparedness and response to recovery.