****Source Carribeannewsnow, Caribbean new editor, first published May 3, 2023
Forces of nature run amok annually, leaving immeasurable impacts. These include the loss of life and livelihoods, disruption of services, and leaving thousands homeless.
In a report by Reuters in 2017, about 14 million people are being made homeless on average each year due to sudden disasters such as floods and storms. According to the study, South and Southeast Asia countries have the highest displacement and housing loss.
But disasters also have a knack for finding the vulnerable in the Latin Americas and Caribbean.
Even if the tiny island of Dominica is no stranger to natural disasters, still, the nation was left dumbfounded following the onslaughts of Tropical Storm Erika and Hurricane Maria.
OCHA Services and UNDP reported that Tropical Storm Erika resulted in damage and loss equivalent to approximately 90% of Dominica’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Meanwhile, the Post-Disaster Needs Assessment concluded that Hurricane Maria resulted in total damages of EC$2.51 billion (US$931 million) and losses of EC$1.03 billion (US$382 million), which amounts to 226% of 2016’s GDP.
Dominicans were left with little to no means to rebuild and recover. Hence, the government stepped in and devised a mechanism independent of international community aid that could plunge the country into significant debt.
The need to rebuild extensively and the ambition to fully adapt to climate change pushed the government to formulate new policies in urban planning and develop integrated housing communities across the nation; thus, the Housing Revolution Programme (Integrated Housing Development) was born.
Funded by the country’s Citizenship by Investment (CBI) Programme and developed through Public-Private Partnership, the government-led initiative aims to provide new, modern, integrated housing to low- and middle-income families.
And it took no more than two years to reap what was sowed. Resettlement for displaced families started in December 2018 at the Bellevue Chopin Housing Development. Three hundred fifty (350) residential units, a 28-unit commercial complex, a community centre, a health centre, and a recreational field completed the first integrated community on the island.
In the past three years, twelve other housing developments have sprung out across the East Coast, West Coast and the capital city, Roseau. To date, about 2,000 housing units have been completed by MMC Development Ltd.
This year, housing developments will also rise in Scotts Head, Eggleston, Canefield, Vieille Case, Penville, Point Michel, Woodford Hill, Paix Bouche, and Roseau Valley.
Meanwhile, a master-planned community development awaits the residents of Grand Bay in 2023. Beyond the beautifully crafted homes and picturesque view of Grand Bay Ville are services and amenities such as shops, basketball court, community centre, pocket parks, recreational spaces, and gas station; safely secured 24/7, with the police station and fire station within the area.
The standard design proposed by MMC Development Ltd for the developments is a mixture of two- and three-bedroom houses and apartments with a toilet and bath, a living room, a dining area, and a kitchen. In addition, and as part of efforts to ensure resilience, the structure was built with reinforced concrete with stormproof windowpanes. It is also fortified with retaining walls, sewage and stormwater drainages, and all utility lines are underground.
The units are granted, not sold nor rented, and are awarded to beneficiaries through a selection system based on dire and social needs, with particular consideration for single mothers.
Aside from providing climate-resilient homes, the programme also paved the way for the creation and sustenance of livelihoods. Local contractors and other skilled workers were employed for the various housing developments.
With the rapidly changing environment, disaster recovery is now linked to the concepts of resilience and community renewal. And through the Integrated Housing Development Programme (IHDP) adopted by countries like Dominica, the integration of housing and recovery are successfully achieved -– proving that there is significant potential to improve the quality of life and the socio-economic status of even the most vulnerable.