The Impact Of Climate Change On The Disabled Communities’ Health In Dominica

Globally, about 1.3 billion people are living with disabilities. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), this represents 16% of the world’s population, or 1 in 6 of us. 

In many countries, people with disabilities (PWDs) are mainly seen as members of a vulnerable community, and their skills or abilities are often sidelined or overlooked by the wider society. 

On the Caribbean island of Dominica, the same is true. Although some NGOs and human rights advocates continue to raise awareness regarding the plight and achievement of people with disabilities, civil society and the central government are not doing enough to bolster the community toward sustainability and inclusion. CIJN has identified some of the main challenges affecting the disabled community in Dominica. It is clear that after the passage of Tropical Storm Erika in 2015 & Hurricane Maria in 2017, people with disabilities were exposed to more significant risks of noncommunicable diseases, severe physical injury, anxiety disorders, amplified respiratory conditions, infectious diseases, lack of access to medical care and medication and in some cases, even malnutrition.

The Impact Of Climate Change On Children With Disabilities

Children with Disabilities (CWD) continue to struggle for inclusion in a modern society that is facing global challenges. The lack of finance, the lack of empathy and compassion by the general public, and the lack of willpower and policy enforcement by public officers and some private sector entities are some of the main factors that have led to the systematic sidelining of Children With Disabilities in Dominica. However, the problem in all of this is Climate Change. It has exacerbated the issues that affect CWDs. In many cases, Children With Disabilities in Dominica suffered and were further marginalised because of Tropical Storm Erika in 2015 and Hurricane Maria in 2017.

Geothermal Energy: A Possibility or A Wasted Venture

A Viable Solution For Economic And Energy Sustainability In Dominica

Measuring 46 kilometres in length, the Caribbean Nation of Dominica is a volcanic island with nine dormant volcanoes, mountain streams, rivers, waterfalls, densely forested areas, large geothermal reservoirs, and a population of about 72,000. Dominica is optimistically exploring geothermal energy and constructing a 10 MW geothermal power plant by the beginning of the year 2025. However, some residents of Roseau Valley and Laudat have expressed safety concerns regarding the geothermal project’s impact on the island’s volcanic activity. They are concerned about the damage to tourist attractions in the Roseau Valley. Residents say they are also not clear about the status of an Environmental Social Impact Assessment (ESIA) Technical Study submitted to the Physical Planning Division for approval.

Dominica at Risk of Losing its FreshWater Resource

‘A land of 365 rivers’ is just one of the phrases that describe the beautiful Caribbean island of Dominica. But with so many rivers and freshwater catchments, these questions come to mind: why do some communities experience intermittent Water supply, why have others been unable to drink the water they receive and why are some unable to access pipe-borne water in 2023?

This report will illustrate and ascertain the state of the country’s freshwater distribution network. We will also look at what led to the challenges currently being faced by the relevant authorities and how we, as a nation, can improve and preserve our freshwater sources in Dominica, to avoid becoming victims of a looming crisis.

Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit takes the Oxford AstraZeneca Vaccine on television in February 2021.

Misinfo ‘Epidemic’ Blamed for Vax Hesitancy in Dominica

The Covid-19 pandemic had been ongoing for nearly a year when Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit took his first dose of the Oxford AstraZeneca vaccine during a live television broadcast on Feb. 24, 2021.

Though no Covid-related deaths had been reported in Dominica at the time, he urged the rest of the country to follow his example.

“Let us not wait for other countries to impose the requirement on us if we have to travel or we have to do business overseas,” he said. “But even for those of us who have no business traveling, it is for our own protection. Science has shown that it will help in the fight against Covid-19 and it minimises the opportunity for getting very ill and for death.”

The Climate Pains of the Kalinago

Even as Dominica aims to earn the distinction of being “the world’s first climate-resilient nation,” following the devastating hurricane season of 2017, the slogan appears increasingly elusive as key sectors, agriculture in particular, gear up for what appears to be a rough ride. Difficulties occur despite the relatively recent establishment of a Climate Resilience Execution Agency for Dominica (CREAD) and initiatives such as ‘Build Back Better’ which focused on more resilient infrastructure. The island more recently launched a new “brand identity” to promote greater international awareness of its value as an eco-tourism destination, even amidst fears, especially in the face of the emerging climate crisis, that insufficient resources may slow recent advances and sideline the longstanding value of domestic food production. Ahead of last Novembers UNFCCC Conference of Parties (COP26), Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerritt lamented the fact that while such an event “has been going on for a very long time for over 30 years … we have not seen any tangible actions on the part of the developed world. There is lots of money, but they’re not getting to us.” 

The country’s Citizen by Investment (CBI) programme is however providing a modest alternative.


Unanswered Questions Undermine Credibility

The Commonwealth of Dominica is one of five countries in the Eastern Caribbean that allows persons born outside of the state to obtain a passport for a one-time fee or real estate investment through its Citizenship by Investment (CBI) programme. The programme began in 1991 to support areas like tourism, manufacturing, low-cost housing, infrastructure, agriculture, and healthcare. The Caribbean Investigative Journalist Network (CIJN) found that Dominica is heavily dependent on the CBI programme and that more than half of the government’s projected growth in revenue for the fiscal year 2021/2022 is expected to be financed by the CBI. Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit in his latest budget address declared that CBI  will contribute 58% percent of Dominica’s capital budget for the Public Sector Investment Programme. The Public gets a glimpse of some of the CBI earnings during Dominica’s annual National Budget presentation. 

This table depicts the reported contributions for CBI’s Economic Diversification Fund (EDF) over the last five years:

CBI Total Yearly Revenue for the Period 2017-2022

YearCBI Revenue in USD2017-2018$148,146,7762018-2019$83,086,5172019-2020$67,538,9022020-2021$109,841,9092021-2022$171,612,697Figure 1.1 (This figure does not include monies collected under the real estate option of the CBI)

Between 2017 to 2022, the country collected more than USD$580M from CBI applications and investments from its Economic Diversification Fund – one of two options to gain citizenship via the programme.

Searching for the Sun on the Nature Island

Almost a decade after Dominica’s best and brightest recommended a diversified renewable energy plan, the island’s 75,000 residents are paying a high price for continued reliance on diesel-fueled generators to supply the electric grid. The current government has poured funds into a geothermal plant that would be capable of exporting electricity at a profit.  But the project has stalled over costs and concerns about safety and it’s impact on the environment. As a result, Dominica ranks as one of the countries whose people pay some of the highest energy rates in the World. Prominent environmentalist Atherton Martin reflected on the public record for making the switch to non-fossil fuels saying “We are where we are: not in a good place.”

Sources: World Factbook, U.S. Nat’l Renewable Energy Lab

Martin, Dominica’s former Minister of Agriculture, placed the blame squarely on the government for ignoring the detailed Low Carbon Climate Resilient Development Strategy of 2012.  That report was an in-depth study into the viability of renewable energy plants.  It even identified where they could be located.