Author(s): Nandi Canning

Dominica paves clear path to climate resiliency amid climate-related disasters

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Damaged telecommunication infrastructure caused by hurricane in Ukraine (2016)

The climate crisis is real. Several severe weather patterns are confirming this. Take Pakistan, the scale of the recent deadly flooding in that country is staggering to say the least. Floods triggered by early monsoon rains began in June and remained intense throughout the season. A full one-third of Pakistan is underwater—an amount of land that exceeds the total area of the United Kingdom. More than 30 million people or 15 percent of the population have been affected - 1,200 people have lost their lives and half a million are homeless. 

After Hurricane Maria left an estimated 90 percent of buildings damaged or destroyed in Dominica in 2019, the small Caribbean Island of just 70,000 has been on a clear path to become the first climate-resilient nation by 2030.

According to Germanwatch’s 2021 Global Climate Risk Index – an Index that analyses to what extent countries and regions have been affected by impacts of weather-related loss event – Dominica ranked 11th out of 150 countries at risk based on an analysis of extreme weather events between 2000 and 2019. Two factors were cited for Dominica: the impact of global warming on rising sea levels that increase the risk of storm surges, and the increase in the strength of hurricanes. Dominica is at risk to earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, floods and landslides, and hurricanes. 

The Prime Minister of Dominica, Dr Roosevelt Skerrit, has been an advocate and voice for sustainability, urging nations across the globe to implement serious and tangible measures to deal with global warming as they impact smaller nations more acutely.

He recently conveyed his condolences over material and human losses caused by the floods in Pakistan and again called upon the international community to stand together to act against climate change in order to mitigate its often-deadly consequences. He said, "Together, we must ensure a better future for our coming generations."

Taking to Twitter he stated, "The Commonwealth of Dominica stands in solidarity with Pakistan at this time of crisis. Climate change is destroying the world, and it is now our time to take responsible actions."

Dominica is leading the fight against climate change, and the government continues to invest in new projects and programmes to achieve their goal of resiliency and having the strength to fight back when catastrophic events occur.

This year marks five years since Dominica witnessed the witnessed the deadliest Hurricane Maria.

Dominica’s objective to become resilient by 2030 needs around EC$4 billion to EC$5 billion in funding and around 40 percent of that funding could come from funds generated through the country’s citizenship by investment programme.

In response to the destruction caused by Hurricane Maria, Dominica launched a climate resilience policy framework to help guide its recovery journey in the form of the National Resilience Development Strategy 2030 (NRDS). The NRDS speaks to the overall policy framework of the government and summaries 43 resilience goals desired to assure that development is people centred.

The Climate Resilience and Recovery Plan of Dominica aims to build strong communities, build a robust economy, have a well-planned and durable infrastructure; strengthen institutional systems and, protect and sustain natural and other unique assets.

It centres around three pillars: structural resilience, financial resilience, and post-disaster resilience.

Pillar 1: Structural resilience:

Under this pillar, the government of Dominica strives to build a resilient infrastructure capable of withstanding natural disasters, including category five hurricanes. It includes the construction of climate-resilient homes, healthcare centres, roads, bridges, airports and schools.

The revolutionary "Housing Initiative" will deliver climate-resilient homes to the public, who were displaced as a result of Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria in 2015 and 2017, respectively. The government is aiming to construct more than 5 000 climate-resilient homes and has already handed over keys to about 1 500 families who were displaced by Hurricane Maria.

The construction of 40 climate-resilient homes in the Salybia constituency commenced in February 2022.

In July of this year, Dominica also launched the "Future Housing Programme" which provides reasonably priced homes to youth aged 45 or younger.

The World Bank Emergency Agriculture Livelihoods and Climate Resilience Project is a five-year projects worth US$25 million and it aims to restore agricultural livelihoods and enhance the climate resilience of farmers and fishers affected by Hurricane Maria.

The project will ensure:

  • Farmers adopt new technologies and climate-smart practices for increasing modification and climate resilience in the crop, livestock, and fishing sectors;
  • Reconstruction and climate proofing of key agriculture infrastructure.

Several bridges have been built and damaged roads have been rehabilitated with the inclusion of slope retention walls and expanded sections to increase capacity and facilitate the movement of larger construction machinery.

Pillar 2: Financial Resilience:

The government of Dominica is implementing institutional fiscal reform to ensure stronger fiscal resilience which will aid in the strengthening of debt sustainability utilising several key institutional fiscal areas.

Pillar 3: Post Disaster and Social Resilience

This pillar helps encourage farmers to plant more root crops which are more resilient to heavy rain and wind, increases farmer training programmes and government assistance with the provision of seeds and fertilizers. The government’s plan to strengthen food security, includes specific policies for the resiliency of the agriculture and fisheries industries.

During a time when larger and more developed countries have been holding talk-shops about finding accurate solutions to climate change, Dominica has emerged with concrete and efficient plans and strategies to mitigate the effects of these global issues.

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