Living Conditions in Dominica

Dominica is one of the islands in the Caribbean that suffered from two destructive hurricanes within the last four years. The hazardous climate in this region has been a catalyst for the building of resilient infrastructure. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Dominica highlight the benefit of disaster relief.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Dominica

  1. Dominica’s government is funded through the exchange of passports through the Citizenship by Investment Program. This program invites foreign residents to come and live on the island under certain agreements. One-third of the population of 74,027 lives on the coastline. The rest are scattered inland.
  2. Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit, has expressed concern for the living situations caused by Hurricanes Erika and Maria. The Citizenship by Investment Program is funding projects for housing developments that brave Dominica’s natural hazards. The residential reconstructions include electrical, cable and telephone lines that run beneath the surface.
  3. The state has an international disagreement with Venezuela’s dominion over Aves Island. This calls into question whether the circumstances fall under the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. But instead of a military, the Commonwealth of Dominica has a police force that includes a coast guard.
  4. Dominica has subtropical valleys and cool coastlines. However, the mountainous parts of the island can experience flash floods. Between June and October, hurricanes pose a major threat. These natural hazards contribute to soil erosion.
  5. Dominica suffered disruption in more than 40 of its water systems as a result of Hurricane Maria’s destruction. The Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance has partnered with the U.S. Agency for International Development, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) to provide support with water, sanitation and hygiene. Access to safe drinking water was an urgent need for hurricane survivors.
  6. The Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership donated wood chippers, tillers, brush cutters, seeds, water tanks, soil testing equipment, machine-powered mist blowers and laptops to 40 Roseau Valley Farmers. The total cost of the project to equip farmers affected by Hurricane Maria’s devastation of agriculture $390,000.
  7. In an effort to sustain school feeding programs and engender the value of farmers, the Ministry of Agriculture is working to form an agro-entrepreneurship program in schools nationwide. The ministry has invested $70,000, not including other resources. The Junior Achievement Agricultural Program will use this opportunity to give students the experience of fundraising to cultivate their own food.
  8. The World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme assisted the Dominican government in the maintenance of public services following Hurricane Maria. The restoration of four hospitals, five medical clinics, three schools and six structures at the Dominica State College took place in the summer of 2108. More than 400 contractors learned the methods of climate resilient reconstruction.
  9. Plastic pollution has affected the island’s coast. In an effort to heal Dominica’s ecosystem, the country will have to restrain from using plastic through a plastic ban that the Prime Minister has introduced. The U.K. government is also funding the Commonwealth Marine Economies Programme (CME), which will improve the economy’s tourism sector by developing navigation charts to reduce the damage to Dominica’s coral reefs.
  10. The U.K. government’s CME Programme will also restore a tide gauge at Roseau’s port to detect unsafe sea patterns. Instructions on the conservation of data equipment, like the Tidal Analysis Software Kit, and connections to the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, as well as to other experts, will contribute to the region’s tsunami warning system. These foundations and skills will bring stronger pre-disaster security.

Though strides are being made to establish Dominica as the first climate-resilient country, there is still danger in the unpredictability of these natural disasters. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Dominica show how proactive development of a stable infrastructure is the most effective way to respond to calamity. Systems must be put in place to overcome adversity before the blow.

Crystal Tabares
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Girls' Education In Dominica

In the Eastern Caribbean, the Commonwealth of Dominica is a small island country along the Lesser Antilles. Originally inhabited by the Kalinga, and then colonized by Europeans, the country of almost 70 thousand gained national independence in 1978. As a middle-income developing country, Dominica has taken great strides toward promoting girls’ education and the prosperity of all its citizens. Fundamental to the government’s stance that education is essential to securing political, social and economic prosperity, the conviction prevails that all citizens regardless of ethnicity, gender or class have a right to an education.

Investing in girls’ education in Dominica is one of the best investments the country can make. Educated girls are healthier, participate more in the formal labor market with higher wages, have fewer children and provide a better life for future generations of the community as a whole. Traditionally, girls faced multiple disadvantages including extreme poverty, underserved locality and belonging to a minority ethnic group, which made completing their education even more of a challenge. Since the opening of new roadways and full access to a free public education for all its citizens, replacing a historically exclusive religious system of education, girls’ education in Dominica has flourished.

Educational Opportunities

Girls’ education in Dominica is a success story among the broader educational initiatives enacted in the country. Girls face no barrier to educational opportunities in matters of gender discrimination. All children between the ages of five and sixteen are required to attend school according to The Education Act of 1997. The government provides both primary and secondary education in Dominica with minimal charges for students and their families. This includes free textbooks and special assistance for poor students as well as grant money available for those seeking tertiary programs.

As a result, net primary enrollment in 2011/20112 was at 100 percent of the youth population. In fact, inclusion efforts in schooling have been so successful, girls have often had higher enrollment rates than boys in the past. In primary school education, during the school years 2006/07–2008/09, statistics show approximately 52 percent of students enrolled in school were girls. Additionally, girls show they often do better in primary school, repeating levels half as frequently as boys, and are least likely to drop out of school. This trend continued in secondary school where, in 2007, there was a female-to-male ratio of 1.06:1 in attendance.

Gender Gap in Education

According to the Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC), females outperform males in secondary schooling. They often outperform in English and Social Studies as well as traditionally male-dominated subjects like Mathematics and Science. While gender segregation as a result of cultural convictions still influences the educational path of females, girls today are more likely than ever to enter traditionally male-dominated fields like agriculture and technology in Dominica.

However, pregnancy remains a contentious issue. While dropouts in secondary school due to pregnancy have declined to the lowest rate in Dominica’s history, social stigma has historically strained the Education Act of 1997, which allows girls to return to school after pregnancies. The fate of girls returning from pregnancies often remains in the hands of the religious and personal beliefs of school administrations, sometimes encouraging unnecessary dropouts, while males involved in these pregnancies continue their education regardless. Although females continue to prevail in university settings, the higher they advance in their education, the smaller the ratio of female to male enrollment becomes. This is likely due to childbearing/family responsibilities and inadequate child care facilities to assist in their higher educational pursuits.

In the 1980’s, there were no laws in Dominica requiring children to attend school. Since taking initiatives like The Education Act, education has been a successful path for girls to advance themselves socially and economically. With an economy predominantly in agriculture and marked by men, by investing in girls’ education, Dominica not only combats social stigmas limiting their lifelong opportunities but also opens up new doors in the service sector for the country as a whole.

– Joseph Ventura
Photo: Flickr

How the U.S. Benefits From Foreign Aid to Dominica
Natural disasters occur globally, and many countries overcome these disasters with the help of foreign aid. Hurricane Maria, a Category 5 storm, hit Dominica on September 18, 2017. USAID has sent assistance to Dominica, which becomes beneficial to the U.S. by building good relations and maintaining a positive reputation by working with other countries in providing foreign assistance to Dominica.

The U.S. Benefits from Foreign Aid to Dominica by Fostering Good Relations

All countries, especially impoverished ones, need help to recover from a natural disaster of Hurricane Maria’s magnitude. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Dominica by stepping in and using its power to help, which strengthens relations between the countries. After Hurricane Maria, Samaritan’s Purse, the Pan American Health Organization and the International Federation of the Red Cross, all under USAID, were able to contribute $3.25 million in foreign aid to Dominica.

The U.S. Department of Defense’s Southern Command worked with USAID’s Caribbean Hurricanes Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) to help repair roofs in Dominica that were damaged by the hurricane. USAID provided plastic sheeting and DART taught a group of local builders how to use the tools provided to fix the damaged roofs properly. Through donations and direct assistance to individuals, the U.S. is building good relations with other countries.

International Collaborations Build a Positive Reputation

The U.S. has worked with other countries to provide water, food and tools to rebuild Dominica immediately after Hurricane Maria hit the island. The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) contributed about 10 metric tons of food, which fed around 25,000 people in Dominica over three months. By assisting with the WFP’s food distribution, the U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Dominica by using its resources to help impoverished countries, which grows a positive international reputation.

Collaborations with other countries to help provide foreign aid to developing countries do make a difference and help the U.S. maintain a positive reputation. According to Diálogo Digital Military Magazine, the prime minister of Dominica, Roosevelt Skerrit, commented positively on the progress the U.S. and other countries have made. He stated, “We have many allies. Thanks for helping my people, without you, our partner nations, it would not have been possible to get past the first phase of this emergency.”

Countries dealing with poverty and disasters benefit from other countries stepping in to help via foreign aid, and that help allows the affected country to get back on its feet. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Dominica through maintaining its positive reputation by doing good for poor countries.

While natural disasters can do great damage to countries dealing with poverty, those countries can also recover promptly with the foreign aid provided by other countries. The U.S. benefits from foreign aid to Dominica by connecting with its people to encourage good relations, as well as ensuring a positive reputation by reaching out to less developed countries in times of need. The U.S. can retain in its positive relationship with the government of Dominica by continuing to support the country, especially when natural disasters hit.

– Kelly Kipfer
Photo: Flickr

How Credit Access in Dominica Ensures Growth

It is particularly important for people to have credit access in Dominica. Borrowed money is the main reason why Dominica has been able to rebound following Hurricane Maria individually and on a national level.

Two Category 5 hurricanes devastated Dominica in September and October of last year and caused heavy damage to the country’s infrastructure and the livelihoods of its citizens. Half a year later, the situation in Dominica has improved. A majority of water systems have been repaired, most schools have reopened and diverse foodstuffs have reappeared on market shelves.

There is still a need for reconstruction. Forty-four percent of the buildings on the island were destroyed, and another 55.5 percent had some degree of roof damage. As of early February, electricity was unavailable in 80 percent of Dominica. Credit access in Dominica functions as an important crutch to help people rebound during this time of reconstruction. A large portion of the population had their livelihoods threatened, especially those in agriculture and tourism.

Dominica’s national bank requires that individuals be employed for a continuous one-year period with their current employer in order to qualify for a personal loan. For people who depended on tourism and agriculture to survive, meeting this requirement is a high bar. The hurricane ripped plant life out of the ground, damaging crops. The tourism industry experienced hard times as well, with all tourism halted for months.

Corporations have recognized the high level of need for credit access in Dominica and have done their part to allow borrowed goods and services. Flow, a subsidiary of Cable & Wireless Communications, began operations to restore mobile services to Dominica in good faith, even extending free credit to help mobile customers communicate with friends and family.

Ensuring credit access in Dominica is beneficial to the companies that provide it. Dominica’s economy as a whole was on the rise in early 2017, with a decrease in government debt and an increase in tourism. Negative growth in Dominica was estimated at 6.4 percent due to Maria, but the island’s economy is expected to rebound, with an estimated 6.9 percent growth in 2018 as it rebuilds.

Credit access in Dominica comes in the form of both individual and national needs. Over 400 higher-ups from governments, civil society organizations and the private sector mobilized to support reconstruction efforts following Maria. Support for Dominica totaled over $1.3 billion in pledges and over $1 billion in loans and debt relief.

Despite the setback from the hurricanes, Dominica’s economy is still expected to trend upward, which bodes well for those supplying lines of credit. The Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) is one such company supplying financial aid to the people of Dominica.

The ECCU recorded slow growth in the country’s economy, and Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit noted that the potential capital of banks in the ECCU has improved since non-performing loans are trending upward as a consequence of recent hurricanes.

Dominica has a long history of bouncing back from natural disasters. Credit access in Dominica ensures that the nation becomes stronger and more resilient, as well as offering an immense opportunity for those providing capital.

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Flickr

Five Development Projects in Dominica

The Commonwealth of Dominica, not to be confused with the Dominican Republic, is a beautiful country located in the Caribbean. While the nation is still developing, it is making a lot of progress in improving its economic state. These five development projects in Dominica are helping to reduce poverty in the country.

  1. River Defense Wall Project
    Like many Caribbean countries, Dominica is greatly affected by hurricanes. The country aims to lessen the effects of hurricanes with this project. In addition, the River Defense Wall Project has social and economic benefits. Local citizens were hired to help build the wall and it is critical in its ability to preserve human life.
  2. New Housing Project
    Investing in housing is important to developing an economy because it reduces homelessness, which could in turn reduce poverty. This project will create homes, retail outlets and jobs for people in one fell swoop. The homes will reduce homelessness and the outlets will increase foot traffic and spending in the area, which will boost the economy and reduce poverty. Of the current development projects in Dominica, this one could be the most far-reaching.
  3. Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project
    In the late summer of 2017, Dominica was struck by Hurricane Maria. The country needs to rebuild, and this project seeks to aid in that task. The Disaster Vulnerability Project will reduce vulnerability to natural hazards and climate change impacts in Dominica by investing in resilient infrastructure and improving hazard data collection and monitoring systems, according to the World Bank. This project has already helped the country rebuild roads that were damaged by the hurricane.
  4. Small Business Development Project
    It is well known that one way to reduce poverty in a country is to create jobs and develop entrepreneurial skills. This project aims to support small businesses in the country in order to accomplish that goal. The funding from this project goes toward staff training and obtaining equipment that the potential business will need.
  5. The Second Chance School Project
    Another important way to reduce poverty is to invest in education. A person can increase their earnings by 10 percent with every year they are in school. This project’s goal is to improve individuals’ skills in order to better prepare them for the future. It focuses on teaching basic skills, such as woodwork or hospitality, in addition to math and English. Sometimes a trade skill is involved. Because of its collaboration with the From Offending to Achieving program, this project is also being used to educate individuals rather than incarcerate them.

Tourism is a major source of income in Dominica, but that is not necessarily the best way to sustain an economy. With these development projects, Dominica can grow its economy and reduce poverty in many different ways.

– Dezanii Lewis

Photo: Flickr

humanitarian aid to dominica

On September 18, Hurricane Maria devastated the Caribbean Island of Dominica, inflicting what the country’s Prime Minister called “mind-boggling damage”. Homes were destroyed, entire industries were brought to their knees and 27 lives were lost.

Months later, it is clear that the recovery will be a long and expensive process. Many governments and organizations are chipping in to help the beautiful island of Dominica reclaim its natural beauty and rebuild the infrastructure that its citizens need.

In order to aid in recovery and relief efforts, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has contributed an additional $3.25 million in humanitarian aid to Dominica. These resources will go toward providing shelter, water, hygiene items, and livelihoods to those effected by the hurricane.

The European Union pledged €750,000 to provide survival kits, food, water, and immediate shelter and household materials to those affected by Hurricane Maria. The funds will also go toward providing training and technical support to those who need to rebuild their homes.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has been working on the ground in Dominica to help reopen schools. As of November 9, 48 primary and secondary schools had been reopened. UNICEF is also working with other organizations to provide water and sanitation services to some of these schools.

Another organization providing humanitarian aid to Dominica is the United Nations World Food Program (WFP). The WFP made a commitment to provide food assistance to 25,000 citizens of Dominica for three months following Hurricane Maria. They have also been providing critical telecommunications services to those involved in the relief response.

There are many groups that are contributing humanitarian aid to Dominica in the wake of the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. Progress is being made: schools are reopening, shelters are being built or rebuilt and food and water is being delivered to those who need it most. With sustained investment in the relief effort, Dominica will continue its recovery and become a growing economy and booming tourist destination once again.

– Aaron Childree

Photo: Flickr

In August 2015 Tropical Storm Erika left landslides, mudslides and flash flooding throughout most parts of Dominica. A grant of $150,000 was approved for infrastructure in Dominica, with focus on roads, bridges and future landslide prevention.

Sincere efforts for rebuilding Dominica came in February 2016. Using one of the two airports on the island the Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) stepped in to help, doing week-long assignments, assisting in placement for homeless victims and building homes. “The government is providing the land and infrastructure and ADRA is providing labor and funds,” said local ADRA Project Coordinator Priscilla Prevost. The agency had a goal of completing 25 homes by the end of the project, but September 2017 put a pause to that attempt.

Right after a hit from Hurricane Irma, Hurricane Maria hit the island of Dominica leaving more devastation than any other storm in its history. Sources claim it will take billions of dollars and several years to restore infrastructure in Dominica.

With telecommunication hindered by damaged cell phone towers, Digicel CEO and chairman Denis O’Brien felt it was right to step in. From restoring cell phone towers to humanitarian relief, Digicel has assisted with getting Dominica reconnected to the world. Hoping to build seven schools on the island, each with a hurricane shelter and 360 homes in one of the worst affected territories, Kalinago, O’Brien has met with Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit to seal these intentions. Dominica’s Digicel Team have restored 37 out of 55 cell services and aimed to have 85 percent coverage by the end of November.

Digicel will give an estimated two million dollars to repair infrastructure in Dominica. UKaid donated £12-million in November after Hurricane Maria, “In Dominica, 97 percent of the water system was destroyed. This is one example of where U.K. funding could help rebuild so Dominica is better able to withstand future natural disasters.” With the help of supporting nations, infrastructure in Dominica is not only underway but making progress at a steady rate.

– Tara Jackson

Photo: Flickr

Two Months After Hurricane Maria, Reconstruction in Dominica Picks Up PaceAfter it made landfall on September 19, 2017, as a category five hurricane, Hurricane Maria devastated the island nation of Dominica. The storm was the worst natural disaster in the country’s history, damaging 98 percent of the island’s buildings, and killing 57 in a nation of only 73,500 people. Two months after the devastation, a robust domestic response from international donors and the government of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit is helping reconstruction in Dominica pick up pace.

The U.N. Development Programme (UNDP) is partnering with the government’s housing ministry and local stakeholders to undertake a major nationwide study to analyze and assess all of the damage caused by the storm on the island and prepare for reconstruction in Dominica. With damages running into the billions of dollars, the analysis will help the government make decisions on the process of reconstruction in Dominica and assess which areas need the most funding.

“We have more than 100 people going throughout the island to assess all the buildings in Dominica, using an app provided by Microsoft,” said UNDP representative Massimiliano Tozzi to the Jamaica Observer. “The app will collect some very important demographic information that will allow the Dominican government to plan evidence-based policies for the next phase.”

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), the U.N.’s migration agency, is assisting and training local construction workers to help with reconstruction in Dominica. Teams of local workers trained by the IOM are rebuilding 400 of the most damaged and vulnerable households across Dominica, with building supplies provided by donors including the U.K. and the Netherlands.

Still, the island country needs more outside assistance to build a sustainable recovery, and the road to full reconstruction in Dominica may be a long one. “Housing projects are a great way to keep locals from leaving the island, but we need stronger funding to create as many employment opportunities as possible and to rebuild the lost dwellings,” said Jan-William Wegdam, IOM team leader in Dominica, to the UN News Service.

– Giacomo Tognini
Photo: Flickr

Making Dominica Climate-ResilientAfter two category five hurricanes ripped through the Caribbean in the space of two weeks, the small nation of Dominica is forced to reassess how it will deal with future storms and become climate-resilient.

Hurricane Maria hit Dominica on September 18, 2017 in the middle of the night. It flattened approximately 22,000 homes, killed 26 people (with 31 still missing) and nearly wiped out plant life on the island. Dominica is a small island east of Puerto Rico with a population of roughly 74,000.  As of October 18, 2017, no one on the island had access to running, drinkable water. With sewage systems destroyed, locals were left with fears of diarrhea and dysentery.

It is difficult to account for people taking shelter with other families, but according to the Government of Dominica, out of 146 centers, 108 are housing 2,911 people. It is difficult to find homes in Dominica with a roof still attached.

More than 45 percent of Dominica consists of rainforests and protected national parks. These have been decimated by the storms. Some greenery has returned in the past two months, but it is still a huge blow to Dominica’s livelihood.

Agriculture and tourism, two main factors contributing to Dominica’s GDP, were upended in the wake of Hurricane Maria. Dominica is still several months away from being able to welcome new tourists. With the massive impact on income, citizens have increasingly left the island in search of opportunities in neighboring countries.

Warmer seas make stronger storms, and Dominica’s Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit believes that in order for his country to continue on, it will need to rebuild as the world’s first climate-resilient nation.

“To deny climate change… is to deny a truth we have just lived,” Skerrit told the United Nations five days after Maria. “No generation has seen more than one Category 5 hurricane. We’ve seen two in two weeks.”

Skerrit is pushing to rebuild Dominica in a manner that would greatly reduce the impact of hurricanes, with enclosed spaces for livestock and climate-controlled centers for agriculture. Skerrit emphasized the importance of moving toward renewable energy like geothermal and solar, as well as researching and adopting construction codes utilized in the state of Florida.

Skerrit is confident that Dominica will achieve its goal of becoming climate-resilient, but this must be done with international cooperation.

“We are among those countries which contribute least to climate change,” Skerrit said, “but over the last two weeks we have suffered the consequences of two devastating storms which have left us struggling to stay on the path of sustainable development.”

– Sam Bramlett

Photo: Flickr

Staving Off Post-Hurricane Hunger in DominicaDominica, the first Caribbean island hit by Hurricane Maria, reported 27 people dead and hundreds of others missing as of October 9, 2017. Hunger in Dominica increases as the wait for food and other supplies to the island lengthens.

While Maria marks the fifth time that Dominica has withstood a direct hit from a hurricane, it has never been hit by one of such incredible force and magnitude, according to the United Nations Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

According to onsite volunteers, a month after Hurricane Maria struck Dominica, island residents still lack clean water, adequate food and medical attention. One of two airports serving the country is out of commission. Roofs blew off in 95 percent of Dominica towns such as Portsmouth and Mahaut. No information exists on nearly nine remote communities, as communications are down in the more rural areas.

However, signs of the island nation’s restoration are finally becoming visible. Principal seaports have reopened, allowing NGOs to deliver food, water and necessities consistently.

The World Food Programme (WFP), working with the government of Dominica, distributed over 66 tons of food to approximately 30,000 people, supplying almost half the residents. Over 40 United Nations workers are on the ground to help the struggling community. WFP reports it now can distribute water and supplies to nearly all people, although the organization expects future hurdles.

On September 29, over 11 tons of WFP wheat biscuits containing high-protein cereals and vegetable fat arrived in Dominica. The organization distributed aid by helicopter to interior communities and waterfront communities by ship. Ultimately, the WFP intends to distribute food to approximately 25,000 residents over the next three months. The organization is in discussions with the government to develop a functional system to supply Dominica’s residents with meal vouchers that will be valid once local shops reopen.

The U.N.’s central goal is to help people feel confident and stable. WFP officials project that if residents of Dominica have access to food, water and shelter, belief in that security provides the psychological lift necessary to withstand hunger in Dominica.

Heather Hopkins

Photo: Flickr