World Bank pledges US$65m for Dominica reconstruction

By on 23/04/2018 | Updated on 24/09/2020
Destruction wrought by Hurricane Maria in Dominica (Image courtesy: Roosevelt Skerrit).

Dominica’s drive to become a climate-resilient nation in the wake of Hurricane Maria has won the backing of the World Bank.

The tiny Caribbean country will benefit from two emergency support operations to restore farms, fishing fleets and houses destroyed by the hurricane in October 2017, after the bank’s executive board approved funding of US$65m earlier this month

The package, which is the World Bank’s largest-ever single financial commitment to Dominica, will fund a US$25m Emergency Agricultural Livelihoods and Climate Resilience Project and a US$40m Housing Recovery Project.

Rebuild and protect

More than 80% of the island’s crops were destroyed and half its cattle were killed in the Category 5 hurricane, which struck on 17 October. The storm wrecked more than 4,500 houses, with a further 20,000 damaged, and many fishermen lost their boats.

Dominica’s prime minister Roosevelt Skerrit said: “This financing enables us to make two critical investments in our economic recovery following the devastation of Hurricane Maria last year. These investments in agriculture and housing also represent vital components of our plan to make Dominica the first climate-resilient nation in the world.”

The projects will be managed by Dominica’s government, which formally launched the Climate Resilience Execution Agency of Dominica (CREAD) on 12 March to spearhead reconstruction efforts and boost environmental defences. CREAD will be closely involved in coordinating the programmes.

Target hardening

The housing project will include provisions aimed at ensuring that new buildings are able to withstand Category 5 storms and follow the ‘core house’ model, used in many developing countries.

The agricultural project will aim to improve soil fertility through ecological management practices and use seeds that are particularly well-adapted to the Caribbean climate. It will also employ international experts to devise agricultural plans that are adapted to climate change and train farmers in appropriate methods.

About 1,700 families are expected to receive subsidies to build new homes and some 12,000 to get help with repairs under the housing project, while 4,900 farmers and fisherfolk are set to receive support from the agriculture project.

Tahseen Sayed, the World Bank’s country director for the Caribbean, said: “Through these projects we have an opportunity to contribute to Dominica’s efforts to build back better and smarter, with structures able to resist high winds, and help some of the most vulnerable, including farmers and fisherfolk, to cope with the shock and be better prepared for the next storm. We are committed to deepening our partnership with Dominica in support of its aspiration for becoming a climate-resilient nation.”

About Liz Heron

Liz Heron is a journalist based in London. She worked on daily newspapers for more than 16 years as an education correspondent, section editor and general news reporter. She was Education Editor of the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong and has contributed to a wide range of British media including The Independent, The Guardian and the BBC.

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