Say the name “Maria” in Dominica and in many cases people’s first thoughts will not be of someone they know, but rather of the deadly hurricane that tore through their country and the Caribbean in a single night in 2017. Many will close their eyes as they relive those terrifying moments.
The Carib community, better known in Dominica as the Kalinago, are an indigenous people with their own cultural assets and language. Living on the island’s rugged east coast, they have been able to maintain a degree of independence and be close to nature. But proximity to the natural world can also mean exposure to natural disasters. And when Hurricane Maria landed on the east coast in September 2017, the Kalinago and their homes were hit especially hard.
Since the hurricane, Dominica has set about rebuilding its housing, applying new and better standards. The “Build Back Better” principle underpins the 20 million euros or so in budget support that the EU is providing to Dominica between 2018 and 2023 to help communities across the country, including the Kalinago, build more resilient homes and stronger disaster shelters.
"Building Back Better" fits nicely into Dominica’s broader, ambitious aim of becoming the world’s first climate-resilient nation. Here again, EU budget support will play a key role. As the country finally unlocks its geothermal potential, EU budget support will benefit the energy sector directly as well. And with the Covid-19 crisis putting even more pressure on the country’s finances, budget support will also help the country keep its social protection programmes going.
In the Kalinago community’s mother tongue, Dominica is called Wai‘tu kubuli, which means “Tall is her body”. Thanks to its own strength and efforts, coupled with its ties of cooperation and friendship with the European Union that stretch back more than four decades, the nation of Dominica is rising from the devastation of Hurricane Maria to stand tall once more.