Linking disaster risk finance to social protection in Saint Lucia

Saint Lucia, as a small island developing state, faces significant disaster risk, especially from climaterelated hazards. Historical data over the past four decades indicate that Saint Lucia experiences a tropical storm or hurricane on average once every three years. With climate change accelerating, the country’s exposure to climate hazards is increasing, posing a threat to its development plans. When shocks occur people endure losses to their assets, livelihoods and well being that can deepen poverty and push non-poor households into poverty. Saint Lucia has recognized these growing risks and is actively developing comprehensive disaster risk management approaches to address them. Social protection systems already play an essential role in poverty reduction. These systems can also improve disaster risk management by facilitating rapid and predictable assistance to the most vulnerable after disasters. During the COVID-19 pandemic, these systems proved essential for delivering support to affected populations across the Caribbean. It is critical that predictable and adequate financing be available for such efforts. This can be promoted by more strongly linking social protection with disaster risk financing strategies, policies and instruments that address the fiscal impacts and losses caused by hazards and shocks. Saint Lucia and other countries in the region are working with development partners, including the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Bank, to develop more predictable financing for disaster response to address this challenge. Recent investments by the government and partners in social protection have created momentum and a solid base to address gaps, institutionalize good practices, and expand the ability of these systems to respond to a range of climate and other shocks. While risk financing instruments linked to social protection and disaster response are nascent in Saint Lucia and elsewhere in the Caribbean, a range of options and capacities already exist. This paper provides outlines opportunities to strengthen and institutionalize linkages between disaster risk finance and social protection, building on these emerging efforts and lessons from COVID-19.