Friday 6th April 2018 – Kingston, Jamaica. The launch of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Post Disaster Recovery Action Network this week in Miami saw total communications and entertainment provider, Digicel, and its chairman and founder, Denis O’Brien, making a significant commitment to help rebuild the island of Dominica in the wake of Hurricane Maria.
On 18 September 2017, Hurricane Maria made landfall on the Caribbean island of Dominica with intense rainfall and winds of over 160 MPH causing catastrophic destruction. The Government's Post Disaster Needs Assessment found that Hurricane Maria had resulted in damages totaling over US$900 million.
With the island's physical infrastructure particularly affected; according to the Government's Post Disaster Needs Assessment, 90% of housing experienced damage, with 15% of homes having been destroyed, and an additional 75% experiencing varying levels of damage. Educational facilities were also heavily impacted with 41% of schools needing full reconstruction and many additional facilities requiring repairs. Overall, 100% of Dominica's students were affected to some degree by the hurricane.
Through its CGI commitment, Digicel will rebuild seven schools and 360 homes in Dominica to address the damage from Hurricane Maria. Activities will range from repairs to full rebuilding, dependent on the conditions of each school. The objective is to rebuild these seven schools and the 360 homes of the parents and children attending those schools and for the work to be complete by the end of June.
To support local capacity building, Digicel will also train 100 community members in building techniques and provide community workshops on risk mitigation and disaster preparedness to 70 adults and 300 school children in collaboration with the Ministry of Education. This commitment builds upon Digicel's expertise in supporting school infrastructure in other geographies including Haiti and represents an expansion of Digicel's existing work.
In presenting Digicel’s commitment at the CGI Post Disaster Recovery Action Network launch in Miami this week, Digicel Dominica CEO, Nikima Royer explained that the focus on education and housing was central to getting the economic cycle moving again, saying; “We recognise that parents need to know that their kids are in a safe learning environment so that they in turn can focus on doing what they need to in order to provide for their families. From our Chairman, Denis O’Brien, and our Group CEO, Alexander Matuschka and through the entire organisation, there is an enormous commitment to this effort and to helping Dominica build back better and that is a source of huge pride.”
Commenting on Digicel’s Clinton Global Initiative Action Network on Post Disaster Recovery commitment, Digicel Chairman, Denis O’Brien, said; “After the trauma of the hurricane, it’s vital that the children of Dominica get the safety and security they need to thrive - and that means access to a great education and the peace of mind of a secure roof over their heads. By rebuilding schools and homes, we’re hopeful that we are helping these children and their families on a path to a brighter tomorrow.”