The devastation caused by Tropical Storm Erika in Dominica must be used as an opportunity to document best practices if such a disaster occurs in another Caribbean country.

This call came from Dominica???s Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Housing, Lands and Water Resource Management, Lucien Blackmoore, as he spoke on the sidelines of the Habitat III Regional Report Expert Group Meeting at the Courtyard by Marriott, Hastings, Christ Church.

Mr. Blackmoore, who was appointed as Dominica???s Resettlement Coordinator following the storm???s passage last August, reported that 521 families were impacted.

???Most of the areas that we resided in are no longer fit for human habitation. This Habitat III meeting is extremely appropriate and relevant right now because we are looking to resettle people, not just relocating them but creating new urban centres,??? he disclosed.

The Permanent Secretary explained that with Dominica???s terrain being one of the most rugged in the region, and as a result of the destruction caused by Tropical Storm Erika, arable land was limited. The solution, he stated, was land optimisation.

???In Dominica, some of the areas previously used for housing can no longer support residential use??? So the balance of the space we have has to be optimised. When you talk optimisation of space that is when you are talking urbanisation and housing,??? he underlined.

Mr. Blackmoore expressed the hope that the region would overcome its ???very serious stalemates in our seeming inability to go from the plan to the execution???.

???I really want to see that we can take this Habitat III meeting as an opportunity to strategise and put into formulation an action plan where we can move and to get those plans executed. Where we can begin to see best practice and an industry standard being implemented so that we can realise safe and affordable housing for the people and better organisation for the Caribbean and Latin Amercia,??? he stressed.

Barbados??? Minister of Housing, Denis Kellman, also mentioned Dominica???s plight during his welcome remarks.?????I can still vividly recall the pictures and videos that Mr. Blackmoore shared with those present at the MINURVI (Ministers and High Authorities of Housing and Urban Development of Latin America and the Caribbean) General Assembly in Jamaica in August this year. The significant damage to the housing stock and physical infrastructure after severe flooding will forever be etched in my mind,??? he recounted.

Citing the effects of the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile, and the damage caused over time by hurricanes in the Caribbean and Central America, the Minister emphasised that ???we must ensure that the international community fully understands those particular circumstances which we face as small island developing states???.

The Habitat III Regional Report is intended to record how urban areas have transformed since Habitat II in 1996 and how they are likely to change the future. Over 30 representatives from the Caribbean and Latin America met in Barbados with the overall objective of gathering input for the final draft of the report.

Habitat III is a United Nations Global Conference which will be held in Quito, Ecuador, in October 2016.

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