Commonwealth of Dominica

Overview                                               

Dominica, officially the Commonwealth of Dominica is a 290-square-mile Eastern Caribbean island, with a population of 71,941. The country which gained Independence in 1978 is known as the ‘Nature Isle of the Caribbean’ and is lush with rivers and rainforests, and home to an expansive array of flora and fauna.

In 2017, after a long history of being ravaged by hurricanes, the full category-five force of Hurricane Maria hit Dominica, decimating its physical and economic infrastructure. However, with the aid of many nations, the people of Dominica embarked on an ambitious reconstruction, build back better and economic recovery process under the umbrella of Dominica's commitment to becoming the first climate resilience country in the world as stated by Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit’s address to the CARICOM-UNDP Conference in New York on 21st November 2017.

Dominica's efforts to Climate Resilience are patent in the establishment of an institutional infrastructure for resilience through the implementation of the Climate Resilience Act,  the Climate Resilience Execution Agency (CREAD), the Climate Resilience and Recovery Plan (CRRP) and the National Resilience and Development Strategy 2030, coupled with renewed efforts to boost food security and the agricultural/fisheries sector, digital transformation, low carbon development,  sustainable tourism and resilient housing. 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, UNDP established a project office in 2017 to assist the government with immediate response, recovery and reconstruction post-Hurricane Maria. Since the launch of the project office, the UNDP portfolio has scaled up significantly resulting in a myriad of projects supporting reconstruction and social protection, resilience building, agriculture, Indigenous peoples, blue economy and digital transformation. 

 

Main Initiatives

UNDP’s current work in Dominica includes a focus on recovery, resilience, livelihood strengthening and social protection. Strengthening national recovery frameworks, disaster preparedness and climate and community resilience is a part of that work, as is empowering women to take a more proactive role in emergencies.

Under the projects Improving Recovery Planning & Capacities for Resilience in the Caribbean and Development of Climate Resilience & Recovery Plan, UNDP along with the Dominican Office of Disaster Management advanced the creation of a Climate Resilience and Recovery Plan (CRRP) which bolsters national systems for preparedness and ensures the integration of gender equality. UNDP also provides implementation support to the Climate Resilience Execution Agency for Dominica (CREAD) and in partnership with the UK Government, monitors the progress of CREAD in delivering on the CRRP.

Dominica’s goal of becoming the world’s first climate-resilient nation is an ambitious one, but through projects and programmes, UNDP is providing the support needed to accelerate and achieve this goal. The Green Climate Fund (GCF) Readiness Support project (finalized in March 2020) was created to enhance the capacity of the country to access climate change funding and financing available from the GCF.

Meanwhile, the  EnGenDER project is being implemented to ensure that climate change and post-disaster recovery actions are better informed by an analysis of gender inequalities and to guarantee that inequalities are alleviated rather than exacerbated.  Through the Offer of Complementary Funding (OCF), the project is also supporting Government with developing assessments to apply for climate financing; while developing a comprehensive livelihood assessment for Dominica’s indigenous population to identify possible short- and medium-term interventions that contribute to Kalinago’s livelihood enhancement.

UNDP also supported climate resilience and energy efficiency. The Low Carbon Development Path (LCDP) project aimed to remove technical, financial and policy-based, barriers to the use of energy-efficient applications (closed March 2021); and under the Japan Caribbean Climate Change Partnership, Dominicans were able to access alternative low-emission and climate-resilient technologies and strengthen their knowledge networks to further develop these technologies.

Restoration efforts in Dominica were conducted using UNDP’s “build back better" approach to ensure resilience against future shocks. Employing this approach UNDP supported the resilient rehabilitation of two buildings at the Salisbury Educational Facility which were severely damaged by Hurricane Maria. Resilient reconstruction of this facility accelerated the return of essential schooling for students, providing a safe haven in the event of future disasters. The Handover Ceremony of the Facility took place on 14th October 2020.

Other recovery efforts in response to Hurricane Maria, included the provision of technical expertise in debris/waste management, the implementation of a short-term emergency employment programme that benefited 400 persons (in 18 communities), the re-roofing of 480 buildings (472 homes, 3 schools and 5 medical centres), and the successful implementation of a Building Damage Assessment (BDA) to evaluate the state of 29,431 structures throughout Dominica.

The need to improve post-disaster communication infrastructure was also critical given the physical isolation and communications disruption experienced by villages and communities after Hurricane Maria. In collaboration with national and international partners and input from three communities, UNDP piloted an innovative community wi-fi network to provide three communities with reliable access to emergency communications systems.

Sustainable sectoral development is necessary to build resilience against shocks. The agriculture sector is Dominica’s primary industry; however, it is constantly threatened by reoccurring disasters. The Strengthening Disaster Management Capacity of Women in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana and Commonwealth of Dominica aims to scale up the resilience of small farmers and female farmer groups by enhancing risk-informed decision making and community support. Similarly, the Supporting Sustainable Ecosystems initiative (to close in December 2022) provides effective integrated landscape management of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park, establishing a buffer zone to reduce threats to biodiversity and ecological functioning.  

There is an ongoing initiative benefiting the indigenous community in Dominica. The Strengthening Sustainable Livelihoods and Resilience in the Kalinago Territory (to close June 2022 but no-cost extension request until December 2022 being prepared) initiative seeks to strengthen the livelihoods and resilience of the Kalinago Territory, by working with Government in delivering an integrated package to strengthen capacities to boost agricultural production and sustainable agricultural practices; design and implement community reforestation programmes to augment livelihoods and protect critical water catchment areas; develop a comprehensive Kalinago tourism strategy and brand that generates new income opportunities for the territory, and; boost institutional capacities of the Kalinago Council for improved participative and inclusive decision making and planning.

The development of the blue tourism sector is essential to Dominica’s sustainable economic growth. Through the donation of vital equipment, UNDP supported the livelihoods and economic recovery of the Portsmouth Association of Yachting Services (PAYS). This initiative launched in 2019 benefitted over 100 people by connecting farmers, fishers, laundry services, restaurants, retailers, tour guides, tour operators, taxi operators and others within the yachting and tourism sector.

One of the most significant interventions supporting recovery and reconstruction is the Dominica Development and Reconstruction Facility, DDRF (signed in April 2020); which assists the government with direct cash transfers and technical assistance to implement social protection, COVID-19 response and reconstruction programmes that are estimated to directly benefit over 15% of the Dominica population.

Digital transformation has been a growing area for close collaboration in Dominica. Through a successful pilot initiative by the Government of Dominica’s Ministry of Public Works and the Digital Economy, UNDP Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean collaborated with IsraAID to deliver a 12-week training programme, Work Online Dominica, to provide an alternative pathway of employment and to leverage and build skills to find freelance opportunities online (the gig economy). Given the success of the programme, cohort 3 is currently underway.  

In the broader picture of digital transformation, Dominica is implementing a digital economy development project, the Caribbean Digital Transformation Project, financed by the World Bank. The project aims to boost access to digital services, technologies and skills. The project is opening new areas of work for UNDP in Dominica. To support this process, the UNDP Chief Digital Office piloted its first digital readiness assessment in Dominica in November 2020, to assist with the framing of the digital opportunities across core pillars of digital transformation. In 2021, UNDP mobilized technical assistance to support Dominica develop a national digital transformation strategy which was recently finalized (2022) and is currently waiting on Cabinet approval, while discussions are taking place to further collaborate with the Government around Digital Identity and tailored support for the implementation of Dominica's digital transformation strategy.

Currently, UNDP continues to advance recovery by partnering with the Government to respond to the COVID-19 emergency. Towards this end, UNDP has supported the development of a Human and Economic Assessment of Impact (HEAT) Report with the collaboration of UNICEF and UN Women, provided assistance to MSMEs to go digital and provided technical assistance to support Government efforts in designing a successful Reopening Strategy.

Additionally, UNDP is technically and financially supporting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) within ten countries and territories that are directly or indirectly linked to the tourism sector or have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, through the Future Tourism project.   With gender equality and empowerment of women at its core, the project seeks to promote economic diversification, job creation and resilience with the “Blue Economy for Green Islands” approach in the tourism sector thereby boosting recovery and supporting the digitally enabled transformation of the business processes and value chains of MSMEs.

Dominica is also a beneficiary of the United Nations Trust Fund for Human Security (UNHSTF) joint programme (UNDP, UN Women, FAO, ILO) 'Building Effective Resilience for Human Security in the Caribbean Countries: The Imperative of Gender Equality and Women Empowerment in a Strengthened Agriculture (and related Agri/Fisheries Small Business) Sector' which seeks to enhance human security by advancing comprehensive and gender-responsive development with a focus on key economic sectors in the Caribbean, including farming, fishing, agri-fisheries and related small business activities. Under this programme, UNDP worked with rural farming women groups to identify issues impacting their livelihoods through the use of the community scorecard tool, while identifying solutions and the partnerships needed to do this. 

The Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF-SGP) has been operational in Dominica since 2005 and has since provided 140 grants for a value of USD3,737,883. Now in its 7th Operational Phase (OP7), tit manages 9 ongoing projects under the strategic initiatives of Community-based conservation of threatened ecosystems and species; Sustainable agriculture and fisheries, and food security and Local to global coalitions for chemicals and waste management.  Projects also address the cross-cutting initiatives of CSO-Government-Private Sector Policy and Planning Dialogue Platforms, Enhancing social inclusion, knowledge management and results management.

Finally, in collaboration with the University of the West Indies, UNDP has assisted with the improvement of Dominica’s fiscal outlook, through a public expenditure review. This includes a review and validation of the recommendations for expenditure reduction made by International Financial Institutions and the provision of additional feedback to assist with decision-making to inform the three-year budget process.

In addition to Barbados, the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat, UNDP has supported the development of a Blue Economy Scoping Study for Dominica.

For more information on Dominica, please view the Human Development Report Briefing Note for this country.

Did you know?

Dominica has 365 rivers – a river for each day of the year!

Contact Us

To contact us, you can write to the Dominica Head of Office of UNDP, Luis Francisco Thais Santa Cruz  at luis.francisco.thais@undp.org