DISASTER RISK MANAGEMENT POLICY TO AID IN PREPARATION FOR HURRICANE SEASON

Parliamentary Representative for the Grand Fond Constituency has endorsed the resolution for the authorization for a loan from the International Development Fund (IDA) in the amount of fifty-four million Eastern Caribbean dollars to finance a Disaster Risk Management Development policy with a catastrophe deferred option.

She says the policy is timely as the Atlantic hurricane season this year is predicted to be above average.

“How timely is it then that the Minister of Finance has seen it fit to bring this Bill before this Honourable house for ratification as we prepare once again to contend with the potentially debilitating effects of severe weather? Our reality is that every year we face the possibility of heavy rainfall leading to floods or powerful storms and hurricanes as was in the case of 2015 and 2017,” Hon. Roberts stated.

Dominica remembers the ravages of Hurricane Maria in 2017. Hon. Roberts says it is necessary to have measures and policies in place to mitigate the post-disaster impact on citizens.

“Hurricane Maria as we all know was catastrophic, resulting in total damages of 2.51 billion EC dollars and losses 1.03 billion dollars which amounted to 226 percent of the 2016 gross domestic product. In the past two years, covid-19 has been the cause of additional stress on individual and public finances and has inhibited this Government’s ability to fund some of our most basic commitments. As much as we may want to forget or downplay this significant impact we must consider the context in which this resolution comes before this Honourable house,” the Minister noted.

Government has assessed the vulnerability of all communities across the island and in return, prioritization was given to resilient infrastructure to ensure they were commissioned before this Atlantic hurricane season. Jimmit and Castle Bruce recently received their commitment with resilient infrastructures that can house hundreds of individuals.

The people of the St. Joseph constituency also benefitted from a regional emergency center in Layou in 2020. Other centers include the recently constructed Capuchin and Cotton Hill Emergency Operation Centres. The construction of resilient homes in all parts of Dominica was also given precedence.

The Grand Fond MP mentions some of the policies Governments have implemented to pave the way to resiliency.

“You have heard of the National Resilience Development Strategy, the Disaster Resilience Strategy, the Climate Resilience and Recovery Plan and the Disaster Risk Financing Strategy which was approved by Cabinet in March of this year. All of these were designed to provide comprehensive step by step processes and support for every sector of our society to develop planning and responsive activities to suit the needs of individuals, households, and communities. The guidelines we have provided in this document allows us to more effectively anticipate, prepare for and respond to a range of climate change impacts,”  she explained.

This policy will empower Government with the means to respond with immediacy to social and economic shocks.

The proposed operation will support and strengthen the legal and institutional framework to increase climate and disaster resilience in priority sectors while improving the national fiscal capacity to respond disaster and climate related risks.

“Since 2015, the Government of Dominica has had to shoulder the rising cost of disaster response and recovery. So, let us ask ourselves how then do we as a small vulnerable state build financial resilience to respond to the needs of our affected population whilst still servicing our debts and meeting our commitments to the state. This is where the CAT DDO will enhance our capacity to plan ahead for the eventuality of a disaster. By this definition alone access to financing is secured before a disaster strikes and can be disbursed quickly as soon as an event has occurred and a request is submitted for a drawdown,” Hon. Roberts added.