Dominica is feeling the effects of climate change

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit has unveiled a three-pillar Climate Resilient National Plan (CRNP) that supports his National Resilience Development Strategy (NRDS) strategy for positioning Dominica to achieve an integrated approach to development, combat poverty and restore dignity to its citizens.

The three main pillars of the CRNP are:

* Climate-Resilient Systems

* Prudent Disaster Risk Management

* Effective Disaster Response and Recovery

Prime Minister Skerrit admitted that while the first pillar of the undertaking was going to be the most important, it was also going to be the most difficult due to how transformative it needed to be.

He stressed that the urgent need to adapt to climate change and its impacts meant that the country needed to bolster its resilience at the household, community and national levels.

“It is not just our economic infrastructure that we must make more resilient. Our resilience programme must extend to our food security systems, water and sanitation systems, energy systems, communications systems, health service delivery systems, education systems, and all other social delivery systems,” he said.

For the second pillar, the Prime Minister acknowledged the need for the construction of more resilient emergency shelters which will be powered by independent and renewable energy sources, that can operate off the grid.

In addition, he stated that the plan will strengthen existing procedures to evacuate people from disaster-prone areas when it is clear that lives will be at risk from a pending weather event. In the event of the country being struck by disaster, Prime Minister Skerrit announced that the final pillar of his national plan will minimise impacts and reduce the pain and the period of recovery.

“Adopting knowledge gained from our past, we are using the lessons of [Tropical Storm] Erika and [Hurricane] Maria to develop a best-practice model for post-disaster response and recovery,” he noted.

Supporting this, Prime Minister Skerrit proposed the commencement of a Disaster Management and Preparedness Fund to empower and facilitate the disaster committees at the community level.

“This entails putting in place better, more efficient systems for search and rescue, relief coordination, restoration of road networks and port services, clean up and sanitation, and the preservation of law and order,” he remarked.

Earlier, in a reflective tone, the prime minister used the introduction of his budget address to vividly recall the days immediately following the passage of Hurricane Maria.

“It was like a nightmare or reality TV-show, except that no one could shake us awake; nor could we turn the television off, because this was our unexpected and painful reality,” he lamented. “We will also never forget the cries of terror of our children, our families, our friends and neighbours. Nor can we erase from our memories, the scenes and appearance of a war zone, when we were able to venture back outside for the first time.”