In 2016, Hurricane Matthew ripped through the northern provinces of the Dominican Republic, leaving behind severely damaged roads, bridges and homes. Flooding from high seas rendered swathes of agricultural land unusable. Thousands of people saw their homes destroyed, often beyond repair.
Then, in 2017, Hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the Dominican Republic. The country still feels the effects today.
And as the climate continues to change, hurricanes are likely to become more frequent and more intense.
This is why the Dominican Republic has launched a programme to restore social services and rebuild housing and other essential infrastructure in the provinces of Monte Cristi, Espaillat, Puerto Plata and Duarte, which suffered the most damage from Hurricane Matthew.
Emerson Vegazo is the managing director of the Directorate General for Multilateral Cooperation, the Dominican Republic’s entity for implementing projects supported by European Union and other international funding. He says that the reason why the housing stock suffered the most significant damage is quite straightforward: human settlements are typically established along rivers, in coastal regions – in other words in riskier, more vulnerable areas, where flooding and landslides are more likely to occur. To move away from these places is a challenge in itself, but it is necessary if communities are to be made more resilient.