Jamaica: World Bank grants $200 million to Gustav Recovery Project

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A grant of $1.728 million Euros ($203.83 million) was signed Friday (October 22) under the Tropical Storm Gustav Recovery Project, at a press briefing at the Ministry of Finance and the Public Service in Kingston.

The grant, signed between the Government and the World Bank, will be used to support government's efforts to restore the levels of service in selected community infrastructure, specifically early childhood, primary and all age schools, and community heath clinics to pre-tropical storm levels.

Minister of Finance and the Public Service, Hon. Audley Shaw, stated that the preliminary estimate of damage and losses to the economy as a result of Gustav was approximately $15.16 billion.

"Notably, the storm caused significant damage to the education sector as, according to preliminary reports from the Ministry of Education, 56 primary and secondary schools sustained damage estimated at $200 million," Mr. Shaw said.

He added that more recently, the adverse weather conditions produced by Tropical Storm Nicole resulted in similar damage to infrastructure, agriculture, schools and health facilities islandwide, with preliminary losses estimated at $11.8 billion.

"Undoubtedly natural disasters have long term implications for the entire society, as they increase vulnerability, particularly among the poor, and adversely affect the country's goals towards economic development," Mr. Shaw said.

The project will consist of rehabilitation to early childhood, primary and all age schools and community health centres in Clarendon, St. Catherine, St. Elizabeth, Westmoreland and Kingston and St. Andrew. There will also be disaster preparedness training in each of the communities being assisted, to increase the sustainability of the infrastructure investments.

"The government is going to be absolutely insistent that all of the restorative that is being done will have to be done properly. So there is no sense in doing 'slap dash' work and you don't do it properly and then the next time we have a disaster the problems are multiplied," Mr. Shaw said.

World Bank Special Representative to Jamaica, Dr. Bradul Haque, noted that the World Bank's Natural Disaster report ranks Jamaica as the country third most exposed to multiple hazards in the world.

"That report states that over 80 per cent of Jamaica's Gross Domestic Product is at risk from three or more hazards. It also notes that almost 90 per cent of the population is at risk from these hazards," Dr. Haque said.

He also informed that the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), the implementing agency, will have one year to implement the project.

"Based on JSIF's previous experience and expertise, it is ready to begin effective and sustainable implementation," Dr. Haque said.

He also thanked the Government for its growing recognition of the need to respond to natural disasters, when they happen, and prepare for them, as well.