On October 28, 2007, Tropical Storm Noel struck the Dominican Republic with major rainfall nationwide. Around six million people—70 percent of the population—were directly or indirectly affected. More than 160 people were killed, and 130,000 were displaced. Only five weeks later, the country was hit by Tropical Storm Olga, which displaced another 62,000 people, killing 33 and causing further destruction. Productive infrastructure was severely damaged by these events, with especially widespread destruction of infrastructure related to water (irrigation, water supply, and sanitation), transportation, and energy. Key sectors of civil and economic function were affected, including agriculture, health, and many other sectors relying on power distribution.
The Emergency Recovery and Disaster Management Project was designed as a hybrid operation, focusing both on emergency response to immediate needs and on capacity building to strengthen disaster risk management in implementing agencies. At the request of the government of the Dominican Republic, the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank, along with other donors including the United Nations, worked to ensure that all priority infrastructure needs were met in the four most affected sectors: irrigation, transport, electricity, and water supply and sanitation. The Bank’s main focus was on the three areas in which it had the longest institutional relationship on the ground (irrigation, electricity, and water supply/sanitation), building, inter alia, on the experience gained from the Bank-supported Hurricane George Recovery Project that closed in December 2003.
Over its span, from 2008 to 2016, the project achieved both of its goals: response to emergency needs on the ground and capacity building for resilience and preparedness to meet needs raised by future disasters. Primary results of the program included:
- Rehabilitation of 24 irrigation schemes, including works on canals and reservoirs, embankments, pumping systems, water intakes, and floodgate systems. Irrigation was restored on 37,218 hectares (of which 16,763 resulted from retroactively financed activities), benefiting 18,779 farmers producing bananas, chickpeas, rice, maize, tomatoes, and other fruits and vegetables—all essential for local and national food security.
- Restoration of three dams (Tavera, Jiguey, and Chacuey). Works covered the reinforcement and renovation of structures including embankments, protection walls, and drainage systems, all of which are essential for the dams to function effectively in key areas of flood reduction, water supply, irrigation, hydropower, and environmental conservation.
- Improved decision-making tools related to extreme events. The Disaster Information Systems, including the telemetric network, were repaired and updated as needed.
- Restoration of transmission capacity, with the replacement of 152 km of transmission lines. The restored transmission capacity supplies most of the electricity in the southern region, benefiting more than one million people.
- Restoration of the Aguacate power plant’s original generation capacity (52 MW) and upgrade (additional 8 MW). Restored or expanded generation capacity, totaling 60 MW, benefited more than 590,000 inhabitants. The Las Barias dam, critical for the functioning of the La Valdesia (54 MW capacity) and Las Barias power plants (0.85 MW), was restored as well.
- Restoration of the water treatment facilities in Santo Domingo and in Santiago. Working with Corporación del Acueducto y Alcantarillado de Santo Domingo and Corporación del Acueducto y Alcantarillado de Santiago, the project contributed retroactive financing for exceptional expenses incurred just after the tropical storms to acquire materials and equipment, implement ancillary works, and meet costs of operation. In Santiago, the project contributed to restoring 28 percent of the potable water consumption of 750,000 inhabitants, while in Santo Domingo over a million gallons of drinking water were provided to the population cut off from the regular water supply.