USAID giving US$5m to fund disaster risk-mitigation efforts

Saturday, July 13, 2019

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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).

“Recognising that Jamaica may need to identify financial resources to meet the immediate and long-term rebuilding costs of a major natural disaster, USAID has agreed to partner with the Government and the World Bank to provide catalytic funding in the 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,” said USAID.

Jamaica had directly requested USAID's participation in the DRFI in November 2018, and in response USAID agreed to complement and enhance the World Bank's policy-based loan support by partially funding disaster risk finance mechanisms being instituted by the Government.

“USAID Jamaica believes that this initiative is vital to the country's resilience in the event of a natural disaster,“ country representative Jason Fraser said.

“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.

“Jamaica is transforming in a positive way, and USAID wants to transform the way we operate 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,” said Fraser.

“Jamaica has made impressive economic progress over the last five years but it is still vulnerable to natural disasters,” said World Bank country manager Galina Sotirova.

Jamaica has been showing a strong commitment to promoting climate and financial resilience, and creating more fiscal buffers for difficult times in the face of natural disasters. An example is the Public Financial Management Policy Framework for Natural Disaster Risk Financing, to prepare for the potential enormous costs caused by these disasters 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.

USAID/Jamaica said it has placed disaster risk reduction programming in Jamaica as a high priority and will focus its activities that will help to reinforce Jamaica's position as a regional disaster response leader.

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