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Eastern Caribbean islands rebuilding from flash floods
Published on March 24, 2014 Email To Friend    Print Version

WASHINGTON, USA (World Bank) -- More than 30,000 people affected by the December 2013 flash floods in the islands of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and Saint Lucia will continue recovering and regaining access to markets, water and electricity through an extra US$36 million approved by the World Bank’s board of directors under the International Development Association (IDA) crisis response window.

Extraordinary torrential rainfall, flash floods and landslides hit the islands on December 24, 2013. The flooding heavily impacted infrastructures in both countries, with substantial damages on roads and bridges, and the impact was concentrated in areas with the highest levels of poverty.

The governments’ rapid damage and loss assessments conducted last January with assistance from the World Bank, the Africa Caribbean Pacific - European Union (ACP-EU) Natural Risk Reduction Programme and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR), estimated total losses to be around US$108 million, or 15 percent of St Vincent and the Grenadines’ gross domestic product (GDP); and US$99 million or eight percent of GDP in Saint Lucia.

“We will never forget the people who lost their lives as a result of this disaster, and will use their deaths as a wake-up call for the entire nation that we are a country that is highly vulnerable to natural disasters and the impacts of climate variability,” said St Vincent and the Grenadines’ prime minister, Dr Ralph Gonsalves.

The disaster happened in the peak of the tourism season. While the financial impact of the disaster remains unknown, early estimates conclude that this event will affect the agriculture and tourism sectors and result in economic contractions in both countries.

"While services and transport access have been largely reinstated, parallel efforts will need to be undertaken to mobilize resources required to stabilize and permanently rehabilitate, reconstruct and retrofit damaged infrastructure,” said Saint Lucia’s prime minister, Dr Kenny Anthony.

Within a few weeks of the disaster, the World Bank was able to make US$1.9 million in emergency funds available to support the governments’ recovery efforts.

“The reconstruction efforts are crucial as the hurricane season in the Caribbean is fast approaching,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank country director for the Caribbean. “Our financial support will not only rebuild critical infrastructure and boost the economy, it will also help build long-term climate resilience”.

Approval for specific investments under these operations will be sought under streamlined emergency response procedures that allow the Bank to respond quickly to meet reconstruction needs following natural disasters.
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