Because of augmented human intervention, the frequency of natural disaster causing much disruption to the normalcy of human endeavour and civilizational advancement is quite certain and foreseeable. The havoc created because of the heightened risks from climatic change was witnessed by the Republic of Dominica, that has been taking solid and firm steps to build a resilient structure to fight back the destruction caused by the Hurricane Maria on September 18, 2017. Because of its geography, the extreme weather conditions experienced by the countries situated in the Caribbean region forces the nations toward a movement to a resilient structure holding potential to secure both the present and the future of the people residing in the region. The extremity of the weather condition is definitely the ill-effects of the excessive human intervention in the natural clock of the ecology.
Because of the country being chiefly an agrarian nation, most of the cultivable lands of the Island of Dominica was affected by Maria that bereft the citizens from indigenously produced products for several months. The Hurricane Maria caused destruction and this opened the eyes of the government to move towards sustainable ways in order to prevent such massive destruction in the near future. The UN Disaster Assessment and Coordination team, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the World Food Programme (WFP) provided direct support to the local Disaster Management mechanism to help those affected of the Hurricane Maria. The resources from the Peoples Republic of China through the South-South Cooperation fund and the technical expertise of Engineers Without Borders (EWB) have been critical for the implementation of the UNDP’s projects in Dominica.
Returning to the so-called normalcy of life was not enough and that was the reason why the goals and initiatives designed by the government of Dominica focused on basing it on the pillars of resilience, restoration and sustainability. The aim behind the moves revolved around the nucleus of vulnerability to natural disasters and the objective of reducing their impact on national and international developmental goals for speedy movement towards normalcy. Dominica in all these years have realized the importance of its agricultural sector that stands out to be the largest sector of its national economy, and thus have taken steps to adapt the same with the changing facets of the environment. The well-structured and targeted initiatives taken on the part of the Commonwealth of Dominica against the climatic war led it to become the first climate resilient country. The Post Disaster Needs Assessment (PDNA), directed by the World Bank and facilitated by the UNDP substantiated that the damage done by the hurricane paralleled to over two years of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), with the housing sector facing the major brunt. The damage control mechanism thus adopted the re-roofing of buildings, including community infrastructure such as schools, clinics and hospitals. The multifaceted re-roofing mechanism incorporated the use of advanced technologies holding potential for primary assessment; advocacy and capacity building using technical expertise; procurement and installation of the appropriate material and strong partnership with numerous actors.
The collective approach undertaken in the reconstruction process by the Ministries of Planning and Housing, allowed for broader clarity among all stakeholders who together managed 29,000 applications for building support. The process also supported effective training and advocacy around the national building standards, increasing the capacity of the government and local partners to build to a resilient and more weather-proof standard in the future.
The statistics provide a brighter view of the coordinated and cooperative efforts on the part of the Dominica Government to build a resilient future. Until previous year, building damage assessment of 29,431 structures in Dominica, of which 25,477 were classified as residential, has been undertaken. By the end of July 2018, 500 houses, 4 hospital buildings, 5 medical clinics, 3 schools and 6 buildings at the Dominica State college had been restored; over 400 contractors and construction workers have been trained in resilient construction methods; over 2,000 persons have been engaged in the dialogue around resilient, compliant building standards through public sessions in communities; and the national building standards have been revised. All these steps have acted as the stepping stones to build a foundation for a resilient future.