Thu | Dec 3, 2020

USAID provides US$5m for disaster mitigation

Published:Monday | July 15, 2019 | 12:15 AM

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has committed US$5 million to assist the Government of Jamaica (GoJ) to fund its Disaster Risk Finance Initiative (DRFI).

The agency said the commitement was made after recognising that Jamaica may need to identify financial resources to meet the immediate and long-term rebuilding costs of a major natural disaster. It has agreed to partner with the government and the World Bank to provide catalytic funding to support the Government of Jamaica’s quest to develop innovative approaches to finance their own disaster recovery. This includes developing a policy framework for disaster risk finance in the public sector, and innovative financial instruments for risk management.

In a news release, the USAID said the Jamaican government directly requested its participation in the DRFI in November 2018. Responding to this call, USAID will complement and enhance the World Bank’s policy-based loan support by partially funding disaster risk finance mechanisms being instituted by the government.

The USAID says it believes the initiative is vital to the country’s resilience in the event of a natural disaster. USAID’s Country Representative, Jason Fraser, stated: “This US$5-million investment by the United States government, through USAID, in collaboration with the World Bank and the GOJ, will help build and establish a lasting financial mechanism that will mitigate the potential losses due to the impact of natural disasters on Jamaica’s economy.”

“This would be a transformative initiative that would have a long-lasting, self-sustaining outcome, as the Jamaican government has committed to taking over these payments over the long term,” the agency stated.

It said Jamaica is transforming in a positive way, and the agency wants to transform the way it operates in Jamaica.

“As the first bilateral donor to respond positively to this call, we look forward to advancing new innovative models for the development of Jamaica,” it added.

ECONOMIC PROGRESS

World Bank Country Manager Galina Sotirova noted that “Jamaica has made impressive economic progress over the last five years, but it is still vulnerable to natural disasters.”

She said Jamaica is showing a strong commitment to promoting climate and financial resilience and creating more fiscal buffers for difficult times in the face of natural disasters. She cited as an example, the government’s Public Financial Management Policy Framework for Natural Disaster Risk Financing to prepare for the potential enormous costs caused by natural hazards and to facilitate the availability of dedicated resources for recovery in the face of disaster risks.

“The gains could be wiped out overnight by a single disaster. For the World Bank, this is an opportunity to continue our support, and work together with USAID to improve Jamaica’s economic and climate resilience,” Sotirova said.

The USAID has placed disaster risk reduction (DRR) programming in Jamaica as a high priority and will focus its activities that will help to reinforce the country’s position as a regional disaster response leader. The agency said it is looking to the government and other partners to further develop the DRR programming based on both Jamaica’s vulnerability to natural disasters and leadership throughout the region.