Caribbean Development Bank to finance reconstruction in Dominica
 
The reconstruction of roads, drainage, bridges, and slope stabilisation in the Caribbean island of Dominica have received a boost in the form of a US$30 million finance package from the Caribbean Development Bank, after Tropical Storm Erika reaped havoc on the island nation during the third quarter of 2015. “Landslides and flooding were the major causes of loss, fatalities, and injuries during the passage of Erika,” said Daniel Best, Director of Projects at the Caribbean Development Bank. “Major sections of the road network were rendered impassable as a result of land slippage, fallen trees, and flooding [and finances are] intended to restore damaged infrastructure, and mitigate future incidents.” This latest injection of funding follows grants and loans disbursed by the bank totalling US$1.65 million, and will be accompanied by a US$150,000 grant to hire structural and hydraulic engineers. However, an assessment made by the World Bank has put the cost of the damage and loss caused by the storm at US$483 million, equivalent to almost the entire annual GDP of the island. Included within this assessment is the cost of rehabilitation and reconstruction in the Roseau and Layou Valleys, and while Dominica has a high GDP per capita given its size–just 754 square kilometres–the island remains susceptible to extreme weather conditions that have historically caused major disruption to fishing and agriculture activities, which are two of the islands biggest industries. The biggest of which came in 1979 when Hurricane David, the strongest and deadliest of the Atlantic hurricane season, destroyed almost all of the island’s 470 fishing boats. Tropical Storm Erika is regarded as the worst natural disaster since Hurricane David, with some reports suggesting the country has been put back 20 years by catastrophic mudslides and flooding. Hundreds of homes were also left uninhabitable and entire villages were flattened, with at least 31 deaths.
 
By Adam Pitt
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Photo: Caribbean Development Bank