A three-member team led by Dominica’s International Relief Coordinator and Commonwealth Secretary General- Designate, Baroness Patricia Scotland is presently on the island as part of a ‘scoping mission’ to assist government in developing its reconstruction plan following Tropical Storm Erika.
The team include World Renowned Architect John McAslan and Consultant & AgroChemist , Dr. Lucretia Gabriel both from the United Kingdom (UK).
They have already visited some of the affected sites and met with some of the technical staff of the various ministries.
“We are here to assist Dominica to deliver Dominica’s plan,” Scotland said during a press conference held at the Ministry of Finance conference room on Thursday. “Dominica already has a rehabilitation plan for itself. One of the things that we are doing is coming here to listen to what Dominica wants for herself and then looking as to how we can assist the delivery of that plan.”
Scotland explained that the plan is not different from what Dominica already has, “it is the same plan and looking at how the international community and those who may be willing to assist Dominica from within Dominica, from within our region, from within the Commonwealth and through the wider world, how we can garner that support to enable Dominica to deliver the plan she is already on.”
She said her team have listened very carefully to what everyone has said during the visit.
“We are also going to hopefully speak to NGO’s and others to listen to what they are doing,” Scotland stated. “That is why this is not an alternative, it is collaboration.”
Foreign Affairs Minister Francine Baron said the road to rebuilding and recovering is a long one and the country need all hands on board to help in its recovery.
“The Prime Minister has been accused of being a visionary and that he is, it was immediately clear to him that after the storm that if we were to recover from Erika and if we were to rebuild Dominica and build it back better that we needed all hands on board,” she stated. “We needed to call on assistance from all quarters, we needed to be open to receiving advice and support from the International community.”
She stated further that, “we can only hope to recover and recover quickly if we reach out to others and embrace the expertise that is out there.”
Meantime, McAslan said the key areas visited have highlighted the ‘extraordinary progress,’ in terms of recovery that have been made since Erika ravaged Dominica on August 27, 2015, however, there are challenges that lie ahead.
“The challenges that lie ahead, I think, are probably primarily in some sort of order infrastructure repair, because the heart of this sort of project or this sort of disaster is the need to, not just repair infrastructure but reconsider how infrastructure was formed in the first place,” he noted. “The second, of course, is the pressing need for resettlement for not just repair of homes…but also to house those who have lost their homes in the tragic circumstances of Erika.”
This initial visit was made possible with the assistance from the British government.