With 260 km/h maximum sustained wind speeds, hurricane Maria passed over Dominica on 18 September 2017, causing mass destruction and directly affecting some 73,000 people (the entire population). There are 27 confirmed deaths and 31 persons are reported missing1.Critical infrastructure in Dominica - including electrical lines, houses, public buildings and government offices, schools, hospitals, and private structures key to the economy and people’s livelihoods (e.g. hotels, fish processing plants) were significantly damaged. When Hurricane Maria hit Dominica, the country was still recovering from TS Erika, which in 2015 resulted in damages and losses totalling EC$1.3 billion (US$483 million), equivalent to approximately 90% of the Dominica’s GDP. The post-disaster needs assessment concluded that Maria compounded damage and losses to the tune of EC$3.54 billion (US$1.3 billion), about 226% of GDP.
Beyond the immediate impact in Dominica, the 2017 hurricane season highlighted existing gaps in the overall disaster preparedness and risk resilience levels of the country. With the increasing frequency and intensity of the hurricanes due to climate change, it becomes even more compelling to adopt a long-term approach and invest in strengthening resilience to these events. To this end, UNDP’s recovery strategy will be twofold: to create the conditions to build back better (BBB) and to facilitate investments in resilience building in Dominica. With development as its core mandate, UNDP engages in recovery with the very purpose of putting countries back on the path of sustainable development and strengthening their resilience. Early recovery interventions are a key step in this process and need to serve as an entry point for long-term engagement to address the fundamental drivers of vulnerabilities.
In line with this intervention strategy, the main areas of work during the first 6 months are:
Support to national/local authorities to assess, plan and implement recovery: UNDP will assist governments to conduct a Post-Disaster Needs Assessments (PDNA) in collaboration with other international partners (World Bank and EU). Assistance will also extend to the development of recovery frameworks to plan recovery.
Within its role as co-lead with OCHA of the Crisis Management Unit as requested by government, UNDP will provide advice and technical support in setting up the institutional arrangements suited to a small island country to undertake a recovery process. UNDP will also assist the government in drafting policies and guidelines for recovery, including review of building codes and revision of housing standards, in partnership with Engineers without Borders.
Provide technical expertise in debris/waste management to open the path to recovery: UNDP will provide technical assistance to the relevant sector ministries and local authorities seconding experts in debris and waste management while supporting skills development in these areas. Activities will include assessments, planning and coordinating debris and waste removal, technical assistance for safe waste disposal and recycling of debris to support micro-enterprises and small and medium businesses.
Provide short term emergency employment opportunities for affected families (cash-for-work schemes): This approach will help to ensure that affected families become direct recovery agents while serving to inject cash in the communities and facilitate the procurement and distribution of tools, building supplies, equipment, training and technical capacity (engineers, architects).
UNDP will provide technical, technological and coordination support to a comprehensive building damage assessment led by the Ministry of Housing. UNDP foresees application of an advanced process including capturing of data digitally in the field and compiled in a database for effective analysis. This will also support the capacity building of national structures for field and post disaster assessments, and guide the housing reconstruction process.