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CARICOM | Cost of Caribbean Disasters Underestimated - Holness

Hurricane Maria damage to Dominica was estimated at US$931 million while their complete losses was another US$380 million. Hurricane Maria damage to Dominica was estimated at US$931 million while their complete losses was another US$380 million.
WASHINGTON DC, November 26, 2018 - Prime Minister Andrew Holness says the cost of repeated natural disasters in the Caribbean has been underestimated and this is making sustainable development and prosperity much harder to achieve.
Following Hurricane Maria, the estimated total damage to Dominica stood at US$931 million while their complete losses was another US$380 million. This amounts to almost 230% of the island’s GDP in the previous year. But the impact is actually much more than just the US$1.31 billion in damages and losses.”


This he said was a matter for concern “especially as we are confronted with many development challenges which affect our economic growth – such as high levels of poverty, debt and crime - among others.”

Holness told an IMF conference in Washington yesterday,  that meeting the Sustainable Development Goals and the goal of “leaving no one behind” will become increasingly costly, more challenging and likely not be met... unless measures are taken to reduce the vulnerabilities and build the resilience of SIDS to the climate change impacts which continue to set us back.

Holness pointed out that “Moody’s Analytics, in its Economics of Natural Disasters, published earlier this year, states that among the 20 most vulnerable countries in the world, more than half represent small island states across the Caribbean and Pacific Regions.”

“The 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season – a watershed year for the region – left 18 countries in the Caribbean severely battered with an estimated damage and loss of $130 billion US dollars,” Holness informed.

He said “In the case of Dominica - one of the countries which bore the brunt of the impact - a post-disaster needs assessment conducted following Hurricane Maria, estimated their total damages stood at US$931 million while their complete losses was another US$380 million. This amounts to almost 230% of the island’s GDP in the previous year. But the impact is actually much more than just the US$1.31 billion in damages and losses.”

“Consider the damage to the country’s housing stock — 15% destroyed, 75% damaged — at an estimated cost of US$382million; Consider the damage to critical infrastructure — roads, bridges, water systems, electricity, telecommunications; Consider the impact on the agriculture and tourism sectors which are critical for supporting food security, economic activity and providing a livelihood for tens of thousands; And these are only the visible aspects of natural disasters which we can only attempt toascribe a “post-disaster cost” to,” Prime Minister Holness declared.

“But what about the incalculable impact on the entire population who were either directly or indirectly affected by this disaster?” he asked.

“Very often we fail to consider the total social and psychological impact and other realities faced by countries struck by these natural disasters. We fail to consider the human impact,” the Jamaican Prime Minister lamented.

It is against this background that Holness said he wished to catalyze the dialog to include the impacts that are not easily visible.

“Those affecting our sensitive Blue Economy, and for which we have limited adaptation options. The ones I refer to as the “slow cancers of climate change”, the ones that have a completely different temporal and spatial scale than what we are accustomed to talking about.”

“I want to challenge us today to start including in our resilience dialogue, what the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) describes as the “slow onset events” of climate change,” Prime Minister Holness noted.

Last modified onTuesday, 27 November 2018 13:12
  • Countries: Caribbean

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