KINGSTON, Jamaica – The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), at a meeting here, has declared itself a partner in the Caribbean’s push to get back on its feet in the wake of devastating hurricanes.

The fund’s managing director Christine Lagarde delivered that assurance as she began deliberations with regional leaders and other top officials gathered in Jamaica for a one-day IMF/Caribbean forum.

Addressing the opening ceremony at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel in New Kingston, Lagarde said there was no mistaking the ravaging impact of natural disasters on regional economies and the IMF would not turn its back on the vulnerable states.

“Emergency relief following events like Hurricanes Irma and Maria is a key responsibility of the global community.

“The IMF stands ready to do whatever it can in those situations in accessing macroeconomic implications, determining the financing needs and providing financial support that could also help to catalyze broader financing from the rest of the international community,” she said.

The IMF’s pledge came as Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit appealed to officials from the international community attending the United Nations Climate Change Conference taking place in Bonn, Germany to deliver on their commitments to help rebuild the country, which was left with damage estimated at 225 percent of Dominica’s Gross Domestic Product.

“Maria, that winged messenger of climate change, destroyed approximately 6,000 homes. We need US$200 million to rebuild them in more suitable locations and to a standard that makes them climate resilient. No one has yet offered help to rebuild those homes.

“Maria destroyed our schools and clinics. We need $90 million to rebuild and make our schools and clinics climate resilient. None have stepped up to the plate to help us take on that challenge.

“Maria ripped apart our water pipes. We need $56 million to get running water again. None have said yes.  Maria destroyed our crops. We need $37 million to establish an entire system of climate resilient agriculture, irrigation and food production,” Skerrit said.

In Jamaica, the IMF managing director proposed to host a separate forum with key regional stakeholders that would look beyond financing to wider issue of disaster mitigation and resilience.

“What we will do is to convene a special event of all the major public and private stakeholders to explore options not for pledging funds, that is something that needs to come in due course, but to explore the options for building resilience in the region including disaster risk mitigation, debt management strategies, particularly designed bonds for the future.

“In this effort, we will not be travelling alone. We want to do that in a cooperative way and working with the Caribbean authorities and the Caribbean people themselves,” Lagarde said.

The one-day conference was held under the theme ‘Unleashing Growth and Strengthening Resilience in the Caribbean’.