Prime Minister Hon. Roosevelt Skerrit and members of his Cabinet, as part of government’s outreach programme, visited the community of Petite Soufriere on Monday April 3rd, 2012.
The walk through was an opportunity for the Prime Minister, the Parliamentary Representative Hon. Johnson Drigo and cabinet colleagues to view firsthand the living conditions of residents in that area.
The Prime Minister was also able to converse with many of the villagers and listen to their concerns.
Petite Soufriere’s rough terrain has posed serious threats to many of the residents. Within the last few years, residents were faced with several landslides…some fatal and some families had to be evacuated from their homes completely.
In 2011 alone, Dominica suffered significant infrastructural damage following torrential rains, flooding and landslides.
The government of Dominica had since sought financial help from the World Bank to address road damages in the east of the island after heavy rains caused landslides and flooding.
In addition government also implemented a public support programme to assist families who had been affected.
In an interview with the Prime Minister shortly after the tour he says, “When people’s livelihoods are affected, government cannot stand aside and not be responsive.”
“Petite Soufriere is considered a highly vulnerable community. During the most recent storm, [the community experienced] several landslides. These landslides have caused some homes to be in real danger. We have advised some of these families to [relocate] and in some cases these families have moved to rented accommodations. The government will assist these families who are renting to meet the cost of the rent until the government is in a position to build new homes for them. We respectfully suggested to one family in particular who is still residing in an extremely precarious location to consider rental accommodations as an interim measure because clearly he cannot stay there…. Anytime, anything can happen and we do not want a situation where his entire family is in this house and God forbid something happen to them.”
For those affected by natural disasters in Petite Soufriere, Prime Minister Skerrit told GIS News that government is prepared to take the necessary measures to ensure these people are taken care of.
“In the long term, the Government has some lands in San Sauver and will be moving very soon with the construction of the access road to several acres of land. I have been advised that the land survey department has in fact sub-divided that area. We will first allocate lots to those who have been affected by natural disasters. Of course, we have some families in San Sauver also who have been affected by landslides and those persons will be accommodated. The government itself will build new homes at no cost to these families in our effort towards addressing and alleviating the plight… Now this is not compensation because really and truly it’s a natural disaster and no act of the government, that has caused these people to be injured… but, as a government, we recognize that these families have worked all their lives to build what they have as small or as big as it maybe, and they have called this place home for several decades…some have even inherited the homes from their parents and improved on it so we really have to assist these people and we gave them this assurance.”