St. Vincent moves to protect communities against climate change threats
The Board of Directors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved a package of USD11.435 mn to the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to finance a project to reduce the vulnerability to extreme rainfall and other climate change impacts of over 21,000 people living in communities in Georgetown, Bridgetown and Marriaqua. The package includes: a loan of 2 mn for the upgrade of roads, bridges and river defences and slope stabilisation; a grant of USD175,000 to finance consultancy services for technical assistance to enhance the national early warning system; and a grant of USD60,000 for monitoring and evaluation consultancy services. This project adopts a proactive approach to risk reduction through the upgrading of road sections and bridge structures at critical locations, as well as the upgrading and reConstruction of road sections to increase alternate routes for climate change adaptation. In total, three bridges will be upgraded or reconstructed; 3.2km of roads will be built or upgraded, and defences work will be carried out on over 708m of river. There will also be institutional strengthening with respect to monitoring and evaluation, and building Disaster Risk Management capacity through the integration of the national early warning system into the country' Comprehensive Disaster Management Strategy. St. Vincent and the Grenadines is exposed to high levels of risk to meteorological and geophysical hazards, which have significant negative impacts on the country' economic and fiscal stability. These natural hazards are being exacerbated by the adverse impacts of climate variability and climate change, which place increased stress on water availability, coastal protection investments, food security, national infrastructure and livelihoods, especially of the poor and vulnerable groups. Recognising that disaster risk management and disaster risk reduction are key elements in its sustainable development strategy, since 2011, the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has embarked on a sustainable development programme. The programme utilises financial assistance from multilateral development banks to address disaster vulnerability reduction, and mitigation of the effects of climate change. The country' National Economic and Social Development Plan (2013-2025) includes improving physical infrastructure, preserving the environment and building resilience to climate change as one of its strategic goals to facilitate and guide optimal improvement of the quality of life for its citizens. Dr. the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (right) with Dr. Warren Smith, President of the Caribbean Development Bank during a Board of Directors meeting held in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Wednesday, March 9, 2016 ahead of the First Negotiation Meeting of the Special Development Fund.