Dominica PM calls for quick implementation of assistance programmes to hurricane battered countries

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 21, CMC – Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Tuesday urged the international community to move quickly with the implementation of priority projects and programmes as he urged financial and other assistance for Caribbean countries battered by hurricanes so far this year.

Addressing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) United Nations High Level Pledging Conference here, Skerrit, whose island was devastated by the passage of Hurricane Maria on September 18, said that the damages and losses amounted to 226 per cent of Dominica’s entire national gross domestic product (GDP).

Dominica PM at UN
Dominica Prime Minister at CARICOM-UN High Level Pledging Conference

“When numbers get too large to imagine, there is a danger that they leave people numb. To put this into perspective the enormous human disaster of the Indian Ocean tsunami while incomparable, with regards to the loss of human life wrought damage and losses of 90 per cent of GDP on Ache province in Indonesia…the most badly hit area and  one per cent of Indonesia’s national GDP.”

But Skerrit said that Hurricane Maria’s 226 per cent of GDP damage and loss came just two years after Tropical Storm Erika, inflicted damage and losses of 90 per cent on his island and that the storm came four years after Tropical Storm Ophelia also wrought massive damage.

“The scale and frequency of the damages and losses means there is no commercial premium we could pay that would insure us against the magnitude of these injuries,” Skerrit said, noting that the science of climate change shows that the warming of the seas is leading to more rapidly intensifying and wetter storms.

He said as a result, no commercial insurance firm would offer the insurance needed by the island, indicating that insurance works best when risks are uncorrelated and random.

“We must now accept the fact that with climate change this is guaranteed to change. Indeed we need to worry that premiums on what they are currently prepared to insure will increase significantly; impacting the cost of recovery as many donors will insist on insurance for many things.

“Ultimately the only route available to us is to build a nation resilient to climate change rather than to insure against damages and losses caused to one that is not,” he told the international community, adding “that’s why we are committed to creating the first climate resilient nation.

“It is not an ill-considered promise. It is essential to our existence.  We are prepared to be the game changer. That is not to say that we are against insurance-like mechanisms; where a certifiable event unlocks immediate financial assistance to cover for example our relief needs.”

But Skerrit said that while this is a good idea, quick delivery is essential, noting that most of the initial funds that reached Dominica post Hurricane Maria were insurance funds.

“Notwithstanding, these facilities are not of a meaningful size and to make them so will require donors to commit to grants which would get premiums down to a digestible size. Even if we only insured the cost of immediate relief, we reckon this would cost at least three per cent of our GDP.

“We also know that resiliency is not just about buildings. It is about sustainable livelihoods. It is about resilient networks of energy and communications. It is about resilient agriculture and irrigation systems. “

He said that these things have informed the recovery and rebuilding plan and the prioritization of expenditures within the proposals presented to the international community.

“Another essential observation is that we cannot do aid delivery in the way we have done it. We have been working on projects not yet delivered that we envisaged after Tropical Storm Ophelia in 2011.  There is enough blame for that to go around everyone. “

Skerrit said that while this problem is not one faced by his island, it underscores the need for a change to the existing system.

“This time around, faced with a 226 per cent damage and loss we cannot afford a repetition of normal,” Skerrit said, adding that the proposals submitted for assistance have underscored that after years of social policies that led to a halving of poverty rates any delayed response to the challenges caused by Maria could lead to a reversal of our success.

“Poverty rates could increase and our efforts at achieving the sustainable development goals could be hampered. We therefore need to move quickly with the implementation of priority projects and programmes.

“There must be delivery mechanisms that eliminate layers of bureaucracy between donors and beneficiaries; that shortens the distance between the two so that there can be responsive feedback; and more immediate removals of what may be external issues and local obstacles,” Skerrit told the conference.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

by STAFF WRITER 

UNITED NATIONS, Nov 21, CMC – Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit Tuesday urged the international community to move quickly with the implementation of priority projects and programmes as he urged financial and other assistance for Caribbean countries battered by hurricanes so far this year.

Addressing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) United Nations High Level Pledging Conference here, Skerrit, whose island was devastated by the passage of Hurricane Maria on September 18, said that the damages and losses amounted to 226 per cent of Dominica’s entire national gross domestic product (GDP).

Dominica PM at UN
Dominica Prime Minister at CARICOM-UN High Level Pledging Conference

“When numbers get too large to imagine, there is a danger that they leave people numb. To put this into perspective the enormous human disaster of the Indian Ocean tsunami while incomparable, with regards to the loss of human life wrought damage and losses of 90 per cent of GDP on Ache province in Indonesia…the most badly hit area and  one per cent of Indonesia’s national GDP.”

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But Skerrit said that Hurricane Maria’s 226 per cent of GDP damage and loss came just two years after Tropical Storm Erika, inflicted damage and losses of 90 per cent on his island and that the storm came four years after Tropical Storm Ophelia also wrought massive damage.

“The scale and frequency of the damages and losses means there is no commercial premium we could pay that would insure us against the magnitude of these injuries,” Skerrit said, noting that the science of climate change shows that the warming of the seas is leading to more rapidly intensifying and wetter storms.

He said as a result, no commercial insurance firm would offer the insurance needed by the island, indicating that insurance works best when risks are uncorrelated and random.

“We must now accept the fact that with climate change this is guaranteed to change. Indeed we need to worry that premiums on what they are currently prepared to insure will increase significantly; impacting the cost of recovery as many donors will insist on insurance for many things.

“Ultimately the only route available to us is to build a nation resilient to climate change rather than to insure against damages and losses caused to one that is not,” he told the international community, adding “that’s why we are committed to creating the first climate resilient nation.

“It is not an ill-considered promise. It is essential to our existence.  We are prepared to be the game changer. That is not to say that we are against insurance-like mechanisms; where a certifiable event unlocks immediate financial assistance to cover for example our relief needs.”

But Skerrit said that while this is a good idea, quick delivery is essential, noting that most of the initial funds that reached Dominica post Hurricane Maria were insurance funds.

“Notwithstanding, these facilities are not of a meaningful size and to make them so will require donors to commit to grants which would get premiums down to a digestible size. Even if we only insured the cost of immediate relief, we reckon this would cost at least three per cent of our GDP.

“We also know that resiliency is not just about buildings. It is about sustainable livelihoods. It is about resilient networks of energy and communications. It is about resilient agriculture and irrigation systems. “

He said that these things have informed the recovery and rebuilding plan and the prioritization of expenditures within the proposals presented to the international community.

“Another essential observation is that we cannot do aid delivery in the way we have done it. We have been working on projects not yet delivered that we envisaged after Tropical Storm Ophelia in 2011.  There is enough blame for that to go around everyone. “

Skerrit said that while this problem is not one faced by his island, it underscores the need for a change to the existing system.

“This time around, faced with a 226 per cent damage and loss we cannot afford a repetition of normal,” Skerrit said, adding that the proposals submitted for assistance have underscored that after years of social policies that led to a halving of poverty rates any delayed response to the challenges caused by Maria could lead to a reversal of our success.

“Poverty rates could increase and our efforts at achieving the sustainable development goals could be hampered. We therefore need to move quickly with the implementation of priority projects and programmes.

“There must be delivery mechanisms that eliminate layers of bureaucracy between donors and beneficiaries; that shortens the distance between the two so that there can be responsive feedback; and more immediate removals of what may be external issues and local obstacles,” Skerrit told the conference.