WASHINGTON, March 10, 2011 — The World Bank Board of Directors approved today a US$15 million zero-interest credit to help Saint Lucia rehabilitate key infrastructure damaged by the passage of Hurricane Tomas and improve the island’s capacity to manage disaster risk.
An estimated 20,000 people will directly benefit from the rehabilitation of damaged public infrastructure, while the entire population will be better prepared to confront future natural disasters.
“Natural disasters such as Hurricane Tomas impose large costs on Saint Lucia’s economy by seriously impacting tourism and agriculture, with particularly severe effects on the most vulnerable communities and households,” said Françoise Clottes, World Bank Director for the Caribbean. “This financing will provide much needed resources to support the Government's program of rehabilitation and reconstruction of public infrastructure, but will also help the country deal with future natural hazards.”
Hurricane Tomas swept over the Eastern Caribbean region on October 30, 2010, affecting almost the entire island of Saint Lucia and causing damage estimated at 43 percent of the country’s GDP. The bulk of the damages resulted from flash flooding and subsequent landslides that made roads impassable, destroyed bridges and homes, and washed away river banks in the central and southwestern parts of the island.
Specifically, the Hurricane Tomas Emergency Recovery Project will finance the following activities:
- Support for early recovery by providing goods, technical advisory services and emergency operating costs. This will allow the Government to recover emergency expenditures incurred following the disaster (additional transportation costs, increased electricity bills for the public sector, staff overtime and rental of light and heavy machinery) instead of diverting resources from other pre-disaster budgeted expenditures.
- Reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged infrastructure. This includes reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged schools, hospitals, community centers, and roads. New construction standards resilient to future adverse natural events will be used.
- Improving the capacity to respond to natural disasters. Actions will focus on improving the capacity within the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Housing, Urban Renewal and Local Government, Ministry of Physical Development and Environment, and the National Emergency Management Organization to work with geo-referenced information in order to evaluate natural hazard and climate change risks. Various risk assessments and impact evaluation studies will be implemented in highly-affected areas, as well as a review of the National Disaster Management Plan, and training to improve disaster management capacity.
The US$15 million zero-interest credit from the World Bank’s International Development Association (IDA) is repayable in 35 years, including a 10-year grace period.