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Results Briefs April 27, 2022

Enhancing Physical and Fiscal Resilience in the Dominican Republic

General view of houses in the Gualey neighborhood in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on March 5, 2021.  Photo: Orlando Bar

General view of houses in the Gualey neighborhood in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on March 5, 2021.



Photo: Orlando Barría/World Bank

The World Bank used an instrument called the Disaster Risk Management Development Policy Loan with Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat DDO) to help the Dominican Republic quickly mobilize resources to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and enhance resilience against natural disasters. The Cat DDO disbursed US$150 million in a matter of days after the Government declared a national emergency for the COVID pandemic in March 2020. In parallel, the country’s resilience was enhanced through reforms supported by the operation, aiming at: (a) strengthening institutions for improved climate and disaster resilience in the fiscal, education and water sectors; and (b) establishing mandatory regulations for climate and disaster risk reduction in public investment, hospitals and private construction works.

Beneficiary Story/Quote

As per the Ministry of Finance communiqué on the Cat DDO disbursement in March 2020, then-president of the Dominican Republic Danilo Medina recognized, at the time this first Cat DDO was signed, the importance of this financing to mitigate risks derived from climatic events, disasters, and pandemics, allowing the country to be better prepared to save lives and assist affected communities.


Due to its geographic location, the Dominican Republic is highly exposed to natural hazards such as earthquakes, hurricanes, and tropical storms, which have posed major challenges for its sustainable growth and resilient development. The country has faced high vulnerability to adverse natural events, exacerbated by unplanned urban growth, land degradation, and weak enforcement of building codes and zoning regulations. Additionally, public health-related shocks caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and other emerging diseases have also constituted a significant challenge for the country. Disasters and health-related shocks can strain a country’s fiscal resources, as they are often unexpected and necessitate a speedy response. Managing these risks and avoid the creation of new ones are therefore a development imperative for the DR.  


The World Bank supported the government of the Dominican Republic through a Disaster Risk Management Development Policy Loan with Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (Cat DDO), an instrument that provides financing in the event of a disaster, health emergency, or other shock as defined in the terms of the instrument.  It not only provided timely liquidity for the government to respond to the COVID-19 emergency, but most importantly it enhanced the government’s existing Disaster Risk Management (DRM) and Climate Change Adaptation (CCA) systems by facilitating the implementation of priority policies in DRM and CCA across the socioeconomic sectors of education, water, public investments, health and construction. The Cat DDO was the first ever to include health emergencies as a trigger and the first in the Caribbean. It supported in particular measures to strengthen the resilience of the health sector, in compliance with international regulations mandated by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) and the World Health Organization (WHO).


This Cat DDO supported the country’s more vulnerable population by contributing to the adoption of mechanisms to increase the government’s fiscal resilience and capacity to mobilize resources in the aftermath of a disaster. During the 3 year of the Cat DDO implementation, the following results were achieved:

  • The medium-term fiscal framework, published by the Ministry of Finance, started to include an assessment of contingent liabilities associated with disasters
  • The Ministry of Education reported that in 2020, 759 risk assessments of educational centers were carried out, using a tool called rapid visual evaluation, and 217 evaluations were carried out using the Index of Security in Educational Centers of the Dominican Republic (ISCERD). These combined numbers were equivalent to about 16 percent of schools in 2015.
  • By 2020, 100 percent of the projects approved in the National Public Investment System (SNIP) complied with mandatory technical standards of incorporating disaster and climate risk analysis.
  • Between January 2017 and March 2020, the vulnerability to natural and health adverse events of 80 health facilities had been evaluated using PAHO’s Hospital Safety Index tool and 22 were granted an operating license. 
  • In 2020, 10,866 inspections were carried out, in adherence to Regulation R-004 (Supervision and General Inspection of Works) in private construction private works with a construction permit, which represents 100 percent of such private works.


risk assessments of educational centers were carried out in 2020, using a tool called rapid visual evaluation

Bank Group Contribution

The World Bank, through the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), provided a loan in the amount of $150 million to help finance the project. Moreover the World Bank provided technical assistance to support the Ministry of Education in undertaking risk assessment of the education infrastructure, and to support the Ministry of Finance in the systematic economic assessment of contingent liabilities associated with disasters.


The key partner for the success of this program was the Government of the Dominican Republic and its ministries responsible for the achievements of the specific results set for each reform, namely, Ministry of Economy, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, and Ministry of Public Works and Construction. In addition to closely coordinating with government entities, the World Bank also collaborated with the private sector, academia, and civil society to improve the design of this operation. Moreover, the European Union and the Government of Japan contributed with financing to the World Bank Technical Assistances to support the Government in achieving the agreed results of the reforms supported by the Cat DDO.

Looking Ahead

The Government of the Dominican Republic requested a second Cat DDO to further strengthen national policies and institutions to manage risks from adverse natural and public health events. Some areas supported under the first Cat DDO will be further supported under a second Cat DDO, currently under preparation (P178122) including education, disaster risk financing, and the quality of disaster risk assessments required in public investments. The second Cat DDO will also explore opportunities arising from the ongoing technical assistance dialogue in areas such as territorial planning, social protection, climate change, spatial data infrastructure, and housing.

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