Updated: November 03, 2017

Nov 3, 2017
Consistency is the true foundation of trust; either keep your promises or do not make them - Roy T Bennet

These days it seems that Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit cannot complete a full sentence without uttering the words "climate resilience".  Those 2 words have become his latest "buzz" phrase to confuse the Dominican people while, simultaneously promoting himself.  Those are not new words. Mr. Skerrit does not seem to realize that " resilience " is a process.  There's no special style of house or bridge called "climate resilience". Resilience cannot take place in a vacuum. Even at this early stage of Dominica's recovery, from Maria's ravages, the process could be taking place to increase the resilience of the structures that are left standing. Earth to Skerrit:- another hurricane season is less than 8 months away.

One would think that the Press briefing, conducted everyday over the past several weeks, would have informed Dominicans of some aspects of the climate resilience plan.  This  has not happened. Notwithstanding the Prime Minister's zeal to speak at number of those briefings, he has yet to explain what short term plans are being undertaken in Dominica to set it on a long term path to"climate resilience".  What does this mean?  Dominicans need to know. According to Mr. Skerrit, Dominica is going to be the first "climate resilient country" in the world! What exactly does this entail?.  Here is the meaning in a nutshell. Resilience means the ability of a country to withstand, survive and thrive in the face of hazards. It involves,food, transportation, communication, infrastructure and water. This has to be an ongoing process that adapts to changes in the world.  It has to be flexible; so,  there is no rest.  The process can start at this very moment.  No need to wait for some detailed plan. Those plans may have to be changed anyway depending on the dynamic situation.  There are things that can be put in place right now to set Dominica on a path to resiliency.

Dominica sustained catastrophic damage to many bridges during the passage of Hurricane Maria. The Labor Administration has announced plans for 'bailey bridges' to replace about 8 damaged bridges. Are there any plans to make the bridges that are left standing more resilient? These structures should not be ignored. Are there any plans for foot or pedestrian bridges especially in areas that could be totally cut off? One hopes that in Dominica's " climate resiliency" plan for Bridges, Foot bridges will be considered. They could be used by pedestrians in case of total collapse of 'roadway' bridges. Unfortunately, Dominica's bridges, which are so integral to communication, livelihood and progress of the country have not received the attention they deserve.  The record of this Administration on bridge management has been abysmal.

A key aspect to climate resiliency of roadways is bridge maintenance. For example, if you build a "climate resilient" bridge and you allow big, oversized trucks to pass on the bridge without a consistent monitoring of fatigue damage, then your "climate resilient" bridge has a high chance of collapsing in the 'right' storm. Resilience includes maintenance but,  as evidenced by past practice of his Administration, it is unclear that Mr. Skerrit is aware of this principle.

The Climate Resiliency initiative has been in existence for about 7 years. Mr. Skerrit and his advisors saw no utility in getting Dominica on board with this international initiative. They have successfully hoodwinked the Dominican public for almost two decades and have grown overly confident in their ability to obfuscate. Hurricane's Maria's devastating impact on Dominica provided them with the opportunity to test their ability of misleading the world while pretending they care about Dominicans. Jumping on the 'Climate resiliency' train may finally bring an end to mismanagement in Dominica. If funds are to be provided to Dominica for said purpose, they will come with accountability and conditions, two aspects of governance that are alien to the Labor Administration.

Dominicans must show the world that they are up to the challenge. Therefore, on this the 39th Anniversary of Dominica's Independence the country has an opportunity to become a more coherent and productive entity if the leadership is open to suggestions from all stakeholders. If this occurs it would be to the benefit of the entire country, rather than serving to keep the ruling party in power.