WASHINGTON, D.C.: The World Bank has approved US$36 million for St. Vincent & the Grenadines and St. Lucia after the two Caribbean countries were affected by a freak storm last Christmas, resulting in the deaths of more than 12 people.
More than 30,000 people will benefit from the funds approved under the International Development Association (IDA) Crisis Response Window.
The bank said the weather 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 World Bank said the respective governments’ Rapid Damage and Loss Assessments, conducted in January with assistance from the World Bank, the Africa Caribbean Pacific-European Union Natural Risk Reduction Program and the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery estimated total losses to be about US$108 million, or 15 per cent of St. Vincent & the Grenadines’ gross domestic product (GDP) and US$99 million or eight per cent of St. Lucia’s GDP.
The bank said the disaster took place 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,” it said.
Within a few weeks of the disaster, the World Bank said it 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.”
The World Bank said 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.
“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 & the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves.
St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony said it is imperative to mobilize resources to rebuild his nation’s infrastructure, which was heavily damaged in the storm.
“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,” he said.