Press Release (August 29, 2018) – Over 580 families who lost their roof and nearly everything else after Hurricane Maria have received assistance from the UN Migration Agency (IOM) to rebuild stronger, more resilient roofs.
An IOM contingent arrived in Dominica less than two weeks after the category five hurricane decimated Dominica on 18 September 2017, damaging or destroying 90 percent of the housing stock.
Almost a year after Hurricane Maria ravaged the tiny island, Dominica struggles to go back to normality.
Most of the country has been reconnected to the national water and power grids, schools have reopened, and the government is working to become the world’s first climate resilient country.
Notwithstanding, if the array of houses covered in tattered tarps, the piles of distorted galvanized sheets at many bends, or the ghosts of abandoned homes and businesses littered around the country are any indication, there is still a great deal of work to be done.
“Getting to this stage has not been easy,” says Jan-Willem Wegdam, Team Leader of IOM Dominica. “We have had to be creative to solve procurement issues, obtaining scarce building materials, recruiting skilled carpenters from the wider Caribbean because we simply did not have enough available workforce locally to implement the work. We have been working with many international and local organizations: Habitat for Humanity, ADRA, All Hands & Hearts, volunteer builders from the Mennonite community and, of course, our migrant carpenters.”
Emergency shelters still house families who have not been able to return to a normal life in what may remain of their homes. Many houses simply disappeared. Emergency shelters across the island were damaged, and most have not yet been repaired.
IOM has been able to assist with housing needs in 11 communities so far, repairing or re-building roofs and wooden core houses with funding from UK Aid, the European Commission humanitarian agency (ECHO), the Government of Australia, and contributions from ChinaAID via the UNDP. But even when the milestone of 600 families assisted is celebrated, there will still be room to do more. IOM has been collaborating closely with the Village Councils to try to ensure that the most vulnerable people get the help that they need.
The humanitarian agency is currently in discussions with potential donors to see if they can help meet some of the remaining needs.
IOM currently employs over 150 people across Dominica; only three are expats.
The economic impact in the communities is significant through wages and salaries, casual pay, rental of vehicles and accommodation, and procurement of goods and services.
With Dominica being one of its newest member states, IOM is building capacity for a long-term presence on the island, positioning to be an active partner to the government and people of Dominica in a quest to build better homes, communities, and lives across the island.