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Belize will strengthen the climate resilience of its energy sector as a result of a US$8 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF) approved today by the World Bank Board of Directors.
“A major concern we often grapple with is extreme weather,” said Frank Mena, Belize’s Minister of State for Finance, Public Service, Energy & Public Utilities. “The impact of such events often leads to major set-backs to our development progress,” he added.
Belize is often in the direct path of tropical storms and hurricanes, which are expected to intensify due to climate change. This has caused many human casualties and widespread damages, resulting in costly disruptions of vital public services. The impact of Hurricane Dean in 2007 resulted in US$80-100 million in damages, equivalent to 6-8 percent of GDP, and a near countrywide power blackout. Likewise, Hurricane Earl left another wave of disruptions last month.
“Building climate resilience is a key priority for Belize. This project aims to support the government’s continued efforts to make energy and power systems better prepared and more resilient to storms, hurricanes and natural hazards,” said Sophie Sirtaine, World Bank Country Director for the Caribbean.
Among the concrete results to be achieved by the Energy Resilience for Climate Adaptation Project in Belize are:
- Improved capacity for long-term energy planning, taking into account the impact of climate change;
- Better monitoring of weather and localized impacts of climate change through the installation of meteorological and hydro-meteorological stations across the country;
- Enhanced electricity supply security despite weather events, by strengthening the transmission network and reducing the likelihood of service disruptions;
- Improved preparedness through the design and implementation of an Emergency Response and Recovery Plan for the power sector;
- Revitalized communication network of the power company, ensuring better command and control coordination during response and recovery operations.
This four year project is financed by a US$8 million grant from the Global Environment Facility’s Special Climate Change Fund (SCCF) and US$3.9 million counterpart financing from the Government of Belize and the Belize Electricity Limited (BEL) company.
Credit: World Bank
The sixteen member governments of the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) renewed their hurricane and earthquake insurance for the 2013/14 policy year that started June 1. Since CCRIF’s inception in 2007 – and despite increasing economic and financial pressures – member countries have recognised the value of including CCRIF’s parametric hurricane and earthquake coverage in their national disaster risk management strategies.
This year was no different, especially given that the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) predicted an active 2013 Atlantic Hurricane Season with more and stronger hurricanes than usual. For the six-month hurricane season, which began June 1, NOAA stated there was a 70 percent likelihood of 13 to 20 named storms – well above the seasonal average of 12 named storms.
In light of the budgetary constraints felt by countries across the region, CCRIF sought again this year to minimise premium costs. For the 2013/14 policies, CCRIF provided a 25% discount on premiums because no payouts were made by CCRIF in 2012/13, resulting in an underwriting surplus for the organisation, which is run as a not-for-profit entity. Also, countries could apply a portion of their Participation Fee (a deposit paid when they initially became a CCRIF member) toward their premium payment and had the option to lower the minimum attachment point for tropical cyclones (hurricanes) from a fifteen-year to a ten-year return period. These all led to a reduction in the effective cost of coverage to countries this year by at least 25% but in some cases up to 50%.
The Facility also added the new excess rainfall product to its portfolio of offerings to Caribbean governments for 2013/14. This product specifically covers extreme rainfall events, from both cyclonic systems and from non-cyclonic systems. It should be noted that rainfall is not included in CCRIF’s current hurricane policies, which trigger based on damage from wind and storm surge. Many countries have consistently expressed interest in excess rainfall coverage and in fact, the new product is of interest to countries which are not yet CCRIF members since they are not vulnerable to hurricanes or earthquakes but have significant extreme rainfall risk.
CCRIF recognises that rainfall is a leading cause of damage in the Caribbean – not only during hurricanes but throughout the year, and is seeking ways to enable countries in the region to obtain this coverage. Earlier this year, CCRIF, in collaboration with the Caribbean Development Bank, Sustainability Managers held a meeting with international development partners to explore ways in which they could support the roll-out of this product. These donors were very interested and committed to examine how they could provide support.
Since the inception of CCRIF in 2007, the Facility has made eight payouts totalling over US$32 million to seven member governments on their hurricane or earthquake policies. All payouts were transferred to the respective governments within 14 days after each event.
The payouts made by CCRIF since 2007 are listed below.
Event Country Payouts ($US)
Earthquake, 29/11/07 Dominica 528,021
Earthquake, 29/11/07 Saint Lucia 418,976
Tropical Cyclone Ike, 09/08 Turks & Caicos Islands 6,303,913
Earthquake, 12/01/10 Haiti 7,753,579
Tropical Cyclone Earl, 08/10 Anguilla 4,282,733
Tropical Cyclone Tomas, 10/10 Barbados 8,560,247
Tropical Cyclone Tomas, 10/10 Saint Lucia 3,241,613
Total for the Period 2007 – 2012 — 32,179,470
Source: CCRIF Press Release