Hurricane Maria spread destruction across Dominica

An Emergency Cash Transfer that will target about 25,000 most vulnerable people affected by the passage of Hurricane Maria was announced on Monday morning.

Payments under the program are expected to begin on Monday.

The initiative is being done by the government of Dominica in collaboration with the World Food Program and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

“The Emergency Cash Transfer is a program to assist the most vulnerable households and children in Dominica affected by Hurricane Maria,” Helen Royer, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Services, Family and Gender Affairs, said at a press briefing.

She explained that those receiving help under the government’s public assistance program will “automatically be included or have been included.”

“Actually, as we speak we have already deposited the monies and payments will begin today for those who are already on the public assistance program,” she stated. “Also included automatically were the foster children so the parents of foster children will also be part of this group to receive the cash transfer.”

Royer said about 25,000 people or approximately 8,300 households are expected to benefit from the program.

“This indeed is welcoming as this will augment our current social support networks and help our beneficiaries to be more resilient in this time of crisis…” she stated.

Marco Selva, Head of Mission of the World Food Program said the objective of the intitiative is to ensure that people affected by Hurricane Maria can recover.

He stated the program will be limited to three months.

“It will go from EC$240 up to $645 a month, depending on the number of the children in the household …” he remarked.

He described the program as “shock response social protection.”

“Meaning that we are utilizing and really expanding what is already existing in the country,” he stated. “The Government of Dominica has already demonstrated the ability to manage a cash transfer in a very efficient way.”

Selva said the program’s objective is to reach the people who were most affected by Maria.

Meanwhile, Aleks Lazovski, Social Protection Specialist at UNICEF, said those who meet the criteria for the program include those who are already receiving help under the government’s social program.

Additionally, households that lost their form of livelihood or main source of income as a direct result of the hurricane will be included.

“So basically the head of the household is currently unemployed as a result of the hurricane,” he stated.

According to Lazovski, to be a beneficiary under the program, the following must be met: households must include pregnant or lactating women; households with persons with disabilities, severe chronic illnesses, and elderly persons; households headed by elderly persons and single elderly persons; households headed by single mothers and single males.

In addition, women and girls at risk of exploitation, large households with high dependency ratio, households severely destroyed by the hurricane, people who live in collective centers and those who live in emergency shelter are eligible for assistance under the program.

The program will be implemented by the Ministry of Social Services, Family and Gender Affairs.

Emergency numbers for the program are 277-8667, 285-0989 or 614-3000.