World Bank Says Climate Change Wiped Out Dominica's GDP

December 4, 2015Emerging Marketsby EW News Desk Team

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After the island sustained severe damage in a tropical storm, Dominica's economy has suffered horrendously. To assess the full extent of the damage, the World Bank, United Nations, and other development partners with funding support of the European Union (EU) and the World Bank Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery put their resources together to study the problem. What they found proved shocking.

According to their results, which the participants compiled in a "Rapid Damage and Impact Assessment," Tropical Storm Erica nullified 90 percent of Dominica's Gross Domestic Product (GDP). This level of damage occurred because the heavy rainfall brought by the storm followed an unusually dry period, triggering landslides and slope failures that damaged roads, buildings, bridges, and farmland. Though the storm only battered the island nation for a few hours, it managed to destroy critical infrastructure that tallied up to the equivalent of five years of normal investment for the small nation of only about 70,000 people. The damage estimate totaled around $483 million (USD).

Tropical Storm Erica killed 11 people and left many inhabitants without electricity or water for days. This led to the closing of the airport, which, for a nation that depends heavily upon tourism, represented a major blow to the economy. Unfortunately, these conditions have become more and more common thanks to climate change. An increasing number of storms develop offshore, and they tend to grow stronger than in years past. 

According to the World Bank, hurricane activity will probably increase by about 40 percent over the next few years. Coupled with a rise in sea levels resulting from the melting of the ice caps, climate change will only continue to harm small island states like Dominica. 

As reported by Caribbean360, the World Bank asserts that the solution for Caribbean states like Dominica lies in lies in a two-step approach. On the one hand, the governments of the world must agree to regulations designed to lessen and/or reverse the effects of climate change. Second, nations that are already feeling the effects of climate change need to set priorities for recovery and reconstruction that focuses on building climate-resilient infrastructure. 

Dominica's Prime Minister Skerrit had this to say about the situation: "We believe that it is not only about cutting roads, building houses and giving somebody a key…. I'll be the first to say, as I've said before, that we do not have the requisite expertise on the island to guide us in that direction therefore we are relying heavily on our partners all of whom have indicated their keen interest and intention to provide us with that level of support and guidance."

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