Dominica Monday launched a programme aimed at assisting the most vulnerable households and children affected by Hurricane Maria that swept through the island last September killing at least 28 people and leaving millions of dollars in damage.
The government is collaborating with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Social Services, Family and Gender Affairs, Helen Royer said people already receiving public assistance will automatically be included in the initiative. She said foster children will also benefit from the scheme.
WFP head mission Marco Selva said the main objective is to ensure that people who suffered as a result of the category 5 storm “can find their way through and recover…and help the most vulnerable deal with their most pressing needs”.
He said the cash transfer to those households and children will be limited and will be in addition to the cash transfer already being provided by the government.
“It will be for three months and it will go from EC$240 up to EC$645 depending on the number of children in the household,” he said, describing the initiative as a “shock response social protection”.
UNICEF said a criteria had been established to ensure that the most vulnerable homes are targeted under the initiative.
“We feel that the beneficiaries of the ongoing public assistance programme are some of the most vulnerable citizens of Dominica and it is correct to assume that it would have been one of the most affected by the hurricane,” said Alexs Lazovski, UNICEF social protection specialist.
But he said given the impact of the hurricane it was felt necessary to establish “so called beneficiary selection committees in each of the Village Councils and identify the most vulnerable households.”
Dominica has been appealing to the international community for assistance in rebuilding and Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit said the intention is to become the first climate resilient country in the world.