Montserrat Today

For Monday/Tuesday May 12/13, 1998
Presented by the Information Unit of the
Government of Montserrat's Emergency Department

A newsletter published three times weekly for E mail subscribers by the Emergency Dept, Governor's Office.


The level of activity at the Soufriere Hills Volcano remains at a very low level. Over the last 24 hours there have been just 6 volcano-tectonic earthquakes, 3 rockfalls and 1 hybrid and long period earthquake.

During this week MVO scientists have been to the hot water pond below Richmond Hill to sample the water and gas from the hot springs.

Dust levels at all sites in the central and northern zones are low at the moment.


A new 75 million blueprint for the future of Montserrat has been unveiled by International Development Secretary Clare Short on June 11th in England. In addition, she promised that all Montserratians will be consulted.

A draft of the Sustainable Development Plan (SDP) a joint British and Montserrat Government plan for the social and economic recovery of the north of the island is being circulated on Montserrat and to Montserratians living in the UK and other Caribbean Islands.

Clare Short said "The SDP and our 75 million pledge, underline our commitment to the future of Montserrat. The scale of our pledge reflects the devastation to the island and the constraints imposed on the private sector by continuing uncertainty about the volcano.

If the volcano enters a permanent state of repose, many of these constraints would be lifted, which would allow the people of Montserrat to take greater responsibility for their livelihoods, and play a greater role in the rebuilding of their island."

The SDP identifies the key policies needed to ensure an acceptable standard of welfare of those remaining on the island and to revive economic activity so that the dependence on aid is reduced. The final version will be prepared in August taking account of the latest volcanic advice and the response to the public consultation.

Copies of the SDP are to be found in the public library in Montserrat & at the following website:

The pledge of 75 million will cover all DFID expenditure in Montserrat up to the year 2001 and will include budgetary aid, emergency aid, development projects and assistance to evacuees. The figure represents an investment of 25,000 for every Montserratian currently on island and is a 25% increase in DFID expenditure compared to the previous 3 year period.


The Department for International Development (DFID) has announced that since the start of the 1995 financial year it has spent over 59 million in Montserrat.

DFID has provided a breakdown of all spending as follows:

  1. Budgetary Aid 16,258,105
  2. Development expenditure 18,940,195
  3. Emergency expenditure 15,734,146
  4. Evacuee programmes 4,058,809
  5. Pre crisis expenditure 4,222,938

Total expenditure 59,314,195

The pre crisis expenditure was for projects approved before July 1995 and were completed before October 1997.


The following statement from his Excellency the Governor was released on June 11th 1998:

"I was delighted this morning to convey to the Chief Minister some very welcome news.

At the same time that the Government of Montserrat and HMG are launching the draft of the SDP for Montserrat, I was able to inform him that the Secretary of State for International Development, Clare Short, has agreed a resource allocation for Montserrat of 75 million over the next three years. This is primarily because the Secretary of State believes it is essential that the discussion of the SDP is set within a financial framework. Given that DFID's own financisl resources are finite, it is extremely useful to know well in advance how much money is in the purse so that both the Government of Montserrat and HMG will be able to prioritise between competing claims.

The sum of 75 million will cover all DFID expenditure related to Montserrat, including budgetary aid, emergency aid, development projects, and assistance to evacuees. It seeks to provide sufficient resources, taking account of other donor support, to meet the reasonable needs of those who remain on the island. Statistics on previous expenditure over the last three years show a total outlay of 59.3 million. Therefore for the next three years there is a real increase of 25% in DFID expenditure.

I look forward to the next 6 - 8 weeks when the Montserratian public on island, in Antigua, elsewhere in the Caribbean and in the UK, will be consulted about its contents. By August I would hope that we have an agreed SDP which combined with the knowledge that we have a 75 million budget to work with, will enable Montserrat to make great progress. This will provide a framework on which Montserratians can plan for the future. I am confident it will be possible to agree a Country Policy Plan by the Autumn of this year which should clearly identify which projects are committed, which are planned and what might be possible in the long term." (END)


The following press release was issued by the Emergency Dept at 12 noon on Friday June 12th 1998:

The planning process for the clean up of the Salem area has taken another step forward.

Following a meeting of the Committee set up to plan the clean up operation it has been decided to designate two pilot areas in which to sart the clean up. The areas, one in Salem (200,000 square metres) and one in Old Towne (80,000 square metres) will be cleaned during the visit of two experts from the Institute of Occupational Medicine in the UK who arrive on island late next week.

The pilot will be carried out by a special team drawn up from MVO staff and the local Fire Service who will wear special protective breathing apparatus during the clean up. At this stage members of the general public will not be asked to take part in the clean up due to the high levels of ash in some areas of Salem. However, as the campaign continues residents will have an important role to play.

The pilot project will see debris cleared from the area and then ash will be cleaned from parallel surfaces and from road drains. It is expected that normal rainfall will clean roofs, trees and gardens of ash.

It has been reiterated that the boundaries of the Central and Exclusion Zones will not be changed as yet and any decision will be made following the scientific meeting in mid July. The Governor, H.E. Anthony Abbott who chairs the clean up committee is keen to see Salem cleaned but warns anyone entering the Exclusion Zone does so at their own risk. (END)


Due to holidays for staff of the Emergency Dept, this will be the final edition of this newsletter for this month.

When it returns in July, the newsletter will be renamed as "Montserrat This Week" and will be published weekly.

All persons who currently receive Montserrat Today and who wish to receive the new style newsletter are invited to send an E mail to: asking for their continued enrollment to the newsletter. If we do not hear from you we will presume you no longer wish to receive the newsletter. All persons who receive the newsletter courtesy of the Evergreen Network will automatically continue to receive it after July 1st 1998.

Thank you.

Presented by the Information & Education Unit, Emergency Dept
St Johns Village, Montserrat, Leeward Islands, West Indies.
Tel 664 491 7166, Fax 664 491 2474, E Mail:
Richard Aspin, Unit Co-ordinator.