Natural Hazard Risk
The Dominican Republic is considered a hotspot for natural disasters. The country is exposed to droughts, earthquakes, flooding, hurricanes, landslides, temperature extremes (heat waves), tropical storms, and tsunamis. From 1980 to 2008, 40 natural disasters affected 2.65 million people, almost a quarter of the country’s population.
Land degradation, rapid and unplanned urbanization since the 1960s, and weak enforcement of building codes and zoning regulations are the main drivers of vulnerability. The country’s debt limits available resources to recover from disasters and to provide social protection. And, the scientific community is concerned the Septentrional Fault, along the country’s northern coast, is overdue for a large earthquake.
Climate change is expected to increase the risk and intensity of excess rainfall, storm surges, and hurricanes in the Caribbean, with relatively higher impacts in the Dominican Republic. Predicted impacts include flooding in coastal zones and low-lying areas, with potential damages and economic losses projected to reach nearly 17 percent of gross domestic product.
The Dominican Republic has taken steps to advance disaster risk management (DRM), including developing a comprehensive legal and institutional framework for DRM. The Disaster Risk Management Law of 2002 established the National System for Disaster Prevention, Mitigation, and Response. The National Development Strategy (2010–2030) aims to mainstream climate-change adaptation in development and incorporate DRM criteria in all public policies, programs, and projects. The National Plan for the Reduction of Seismic Risk, approved in 2013, does this through technical guidelines to reduce risk factors associated with seismic hazards. In 2016, a DRM directorate was established in the Ministry of Education to ensure resilient education infrastructure.
To build on its DRM accomplishments, the government’s priorities include:
- Supporting provinces and municipalities to establish their own Disaster Prevention, Mitigation, and Response Committees and to develop and implement their own emergency and DRM plans;
- Integrating DRM criteria into building codes, regulations, and zoning laws to increase the resilience of education and health infrastructure; and,
- Developing a financial strategy that will support the mitigation of disaster impacts.
GFDRR is supporting the Dominican Republic to strengthen the government’s capacity to mainstream DRM. Key areas of focus include: integrating DRM in municipal and territorial planning, building a more resilient solid waste management service, analyzing existing post-disaster financing mechanisms, and identifying risks in order to protect schools.
In 2012, GFDRR supported better integration of DRM into the territorial planning system by developing vulnerability and risk indicators, guidelines, and recommendations for consideration in five pilot municipalities. In 2013, GFDRR supported the Council of Ministers of Finance of Central America, Panama, and the Dominican Republic to undertake financial assessments of possible risk transfer options and solutions. Building on the findings, in 2016, GFDRR financed through the ACP-EU Natural Disaster Risk Reduction Program a Disaster Risk Financing and Insurance Country Note to help guide a disaster risk financing strategy in the Dominican Republic.
Further, as part of its fiscal resilience strategy, the government has entered discussions with the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF SPC), determining it a financially beneficial solution due to its ability to provide a cost-effective and fast-disbursing liquidity in the immediate aftermath of a disaster.
GFDRR anticipates continued demand from the Government of the Dominican Republic in the following engagements, which are in the early stages:
- Supporting the preparation of a $100 million Development Policy Loan with a Catastrophe Deferred Drawdown Option (CAT-DDO), a World Bank disaster risk finance instrument that increases fiscal resilience in the aftermath of a disaster and promotes the implementation of DRM policies;
- Establishing a National Information System for DRM to manage and share hazard and risk information;
- Strengthening the national capacity of the Ministry of Education to fill information gaps in evaluating and mapping critical infrastructure;
- Developing a tool to quantify economic losses from disasters in various infrastructure sectors; and,
- Implementing a household survey to collect poverty data in the context of disaster and climate resilience.