It has been slightly over three months since Dominica experienced a wave of destruction from Hurricane Maria that swept through the island on September 18, 2017. Conversations on the streets of Dominica and on the airwaves highlight a nation that is hopeful and eager to pick up the pieces from the ravages of Hurricane Maria that tore through the island on 18th September 2017, and plans are underway to host the cultural carnival in the month of February.
Humanitarian agencies have now transitioned into the recovery and preparedness phase with the focus of reconstructing homes, providing livelihood support, and restoring public infrastructure and services essential for restoring normalcy in the country. The Ministry of Planning has taken over the inter-sector early recovery coordination with close support from the United Nations Development Programme.
Presently, approximately 20,000 buildings have been surveyed by the ongoing Building Damage Assessment, 400 construction professionals have been trained on updated building codes and 350 workers from 15 communities have been provided emergency employment through the National Employment Programme. They have been engaged in cleaning, clearing and removal of debris as part of rehabilitation of the community.
The government, World Food Programme and UNICEF are aiming to provide 25,000 people with cash transfers. So far, approximately 13,300 households have been interviewed as part of the Vulnerability Needs Assessment, and the first payments under the Public Assistance Programme was (PAP) released on 4 December 2017. The first payments for non-PAP beneficiaries took place on 8 January 2018. The second and third cycles of disbursement, alongside awareness campaigns and monitoring activities will keep responders occupied for the next three months.
Nineteen child friendly spaces have been established, with 1,219 facilitators and 1,023 teachers trained in providing psychosocial support in schools and further training on psychosocial first aid provided to government, NGO, community-based organisations representatives and gender-based violence survivors. UNFPA and UNICEF are now working on a proposal for protection of adolescents, a public awareness campaign on gender based violence and preparedness plan.
Gains have been made in restoring water supply, reopening schools and health centers, providing food relief, transitional shelter and psychosocial support. The next phase of humanitarian work will certainly require greater collaboration with communities to build back stronger and sharing of lessons that will prepare the country adequately for the next hurricane season.
CDAC Network’s Communications and Community Engagement Coordinator, Nicholas Njoroge, is working with humanitarian agencies in early recovery and preparedness efforts to maintain momentum in the communication and community engagement (CCE) working group which is working to mainstream CCE into recovery and preparedness plans, engage local media in more responsive programming, support development of key messages for agency information campaigns, and provide CCE trainings to humanitarians and media. Additionally, analysis of feedback mechanisms and inclusion of information and communication in rapid assessments, alongside support to H2H partners in dissemination of results from micro perception surveys, is part of his scope of work.
Email Nicholas for support or to collaborate on communication and community engagement activities