Dominican Republic
1.1 Dominican Republic Humanitarian Background

Disasters, Conflicts and Migration

Natural Hazards



Comments / Details



Due to the increase activity of atmospheric phenomena in the region of the Caribbean, during recent decades there has been an increase in the severity of violent natural phenomena and droughts.

The effects of climate change in the rain seasons have caused a change in yearly patterns in the Dominican Republic.  The drought periods have also changed, becoming longer throughout the decades. In the past 50 years, the Dominican Republic has been affected by droughts that reduce the agricultural and milk production, increase animal deaths, lower dam and river water levels, increase rural migration and affect the food security of communities. Droughts result in slow onset emergencies, not perceived until their effects are shown in development indicators later on.  The main droughts which have caused significant damage to the country have occurred in the years 1957, 1960, 1967, 1997, 2000, 2010 and 2014.

The Dominican Republic and Haiti also suffer increased desertification, especially in the border areas due to incorrect management of soil, which combined with lack of rain have caused 70% of the Dominican territory to be partially or completely affected by desertification, in the southwest, northwest and east of the country.

40% of droughts that have occurred from 1966 to 2000, were recorded in the northwestern part of the country, specifically in the provinces of Santiago, Valverde, Puerto Plata and Monte Cristi, and south of the National District. However, agricultural drought affects mainly the south and west and the border with Haiti.



The whole island has a high vulnerability to seismic hazard due to its location in the zone between the North American tectonic plate and the Caribbean tectonic plate. In Dominican Republic, the highest risk is concentrated in the Cibao Valley, the northern mountains, the Samaná Peninsula, the Atlantic coast and the northern insular slope.

The history of earthquakes on the island reports that there were multiple earthquakes throughout the decades - six of them considered devastating in the years 1562, 1783, 1842, 1887, 1904 and 1946, with and approximate recurrence period of 70 ± 10 years for earthquakes of great destructive power on Hispaniola.

  • The 1946 quake in Samaná Bay was of magnitude 8.1 and since then there has not been an earthquake of similar magnitude on the Dominican Republic. It caused a tsunami with waves of 5 meters.
  • The following events recorded magnitudes of 6.4 to 6.5 degrees on the Richter Scale: September 2003 in Puerto Plata, leaving 2 dead and damage to productive infrastructure, buildings, hospitals and schools.
  • On March 21, 2010 there was a 4.6 magnitude earthquake near the towns of Valverde and Santiago. There was no damage.
  • On April 18, 2010 there was a 5.1 magnitude earthquake in Dominican Republic, felt especially in Santo Domingo and East of the country. There was no loss of life or significant property damage caused by the earthquake directly, although as a result of the earthquake there was a strong surge that killed three people who were sailing in waters near Isla Saona.
  • On May 16, 2010 there was a 5.7 magnitude earthquake in Puerto Rico, which was also felt in the Dominican Republic, no damage.

There are many municipalities qualified as having High Seismic Risk. These municipalities range from the northwest corner to the northeast of the island, and include Montecristi, Mao, Santiago, Salcedo, Moca, San Francisco de Macoris, La Vega, Nagua and Samaná. Also, in the south there are particular flaws in the municipalities of San Juan de la Maguana, Neyba and Jimaní.

According to the Technological Institute of Santo Domingo (INTEC), 75% of 61 schools evaluated in Santo Domingo are seismically vulnerable. The number could be extrapolated to the rest. According to the Dominican School of Engineers, Architects and Surveyors (CODIA), 30% of the buildings in the country are classified as "informal construction" and do not follow the set construction criteria and are therefore vulnerable to high intensity quakes.

Source: Analysis of disaster risks and vulnerabilities in the Dominican Republic. Consulting for the European Commission, 2009.




In 2012 the country recorded an epidemic that killed 68 people officially registered and affected 9,284. Meanwhile, the previous year had low incidence rates with 2,324 cases and two deaths reported.


In 1996 there was an epidemic in the country, with 6,302 cases. This incidence took on a downward trend until 2004, with fewer than 5,000 cases, but in 2005 there was an increase in the number of cases, with a total of 5,003. In 2007, the incidence rate was 42.3 tuberculosis per 100,000 inhabitants.

Tuberculosis is the first opportunistic infection in people with HIV (about 12.2%) and in 2005, 8.6% of TB cases were HIV positive.


Malaria mainly affects rural and suburban populations of the provinces classified as high risk of transmission. The species is native parasite Plasmodium falciparum chloroquine sensitive. Outbreaks are associated with internal and external migration of temporary workers linked to agriculture and construction, with natural phenomena that cause high rainfall, mainly hurricanes, and the limited response capacity at the local level.

Between 2000 and 2004, the annual average number of cases was 1,490 and increased to 2,354 in 2004 (incidence rate of 27.5 per 100,000 population). In 2005, 3,837 cases (64% in men) were recorded, with the most affected age group being the population of 10 to 49 years (73.8% of cases), and 75% of these cases occurred in rural areas. For 2008, 1,840 cases of malaria were reported, resulting in a 3.4% of the population being at risk of malaria.


HIV and AIDS is one of the leading causes of death for people between 15 and 49. The prevalence is 1.1 % with a slight downward trend.


Because of the cholera epidemic in neighbouring Haiti, which started in October 2010, a cholera outbreak was also recorded in the Dominican Republic in November 2010. The outbreak occurred in the main towns and rural areas with services deficit of water, sanitation and hygiene, and the provinces of the Dominican-Haitian border.  In February 2011 the disease was considered endemic epidemic by the Ministry of Public Health. A total of 19 provinces were affected.  Monitoring of cholera is included in the monthly surveillance of the Ministry of Public Health.  The outbreak has been reduced and controlled since then.

Influenza A H1N1

Since the beginning of the epidemiological surveillance of influenza A H1N1 virus in 2009, a total of 491 cases for the influenza A H1N1 virus were confirmed in the Dominican Republic. (Source: Bulletin secretary of state for public health and welfare Dominican Republic, November 3, 2009).


Ebola virus is a serious, often fatal, infectious viral disease that causes hemorrhagic fever and affects animals and people, the exact origin of which is unknown.

This epidemic represented a threat to the health of the world population. Although for the Dominican Republic the risk was low, in 2014 the Ministry of Public Health worked along with other sectors to avoid the introduction of this virus into the territory. Therefore, he advised knowing and complying with the recommendations issued by this agency and PAHO / WHO (Source: Boletín informativo DIGPRES semana del 03 al 09 de noviembre 2014: ébola enfermedad por el virus del ébola (EVE), October 14, 2014).


Symptoms of chikungunya, which also include headache and muscular pain, usually appear three to seven days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. The disease is only rarely fatal, but the joint pain it causes can last for months or even years for some. The Dominican Republic's Ministry of Public Health, with support from the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO), in May 2014 released a guide for the clinical management of patients, distributing it to public and private hospitals throughout the country (Source: Dominican Republic is first country in the Americas to publish guidelines for clinical management of chikungunya, July 17, 2014).


On 23 January 2016, the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) reported the presence of the Zika virus in the Dominican Republic after ten cases were confirmed, eight were contracted locally and two were imported from El Salvador. After confirming the circulation of the virus, the Dominican government issued Decree 7-16 on 23 January 2016, which instructed the Ministry of Health to coordinate actions to detect and confirm cases of dengue, chikungunya and Zika, address and implement a guidance strategy and to reduce the number of mosquito-breeding sites (Source: Dominican Republic: Zika, dengue and chikungunya virus outbreak DREF Operation Final Report n° MDRDO008, November 14, 2016).


Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people who fall sick with COVID-19 will experience mild to moderate symptoms and recover without special treatment. The Dominican Republic has local capacity to diagnose the COVID-19 through the National Public Health Laboratory.  The Ministry of Health advises of mandatory quarantine or self-quarantine for COVID-19 positive patients (Source: Coronavirus Information for the Dominican Republic, July 7, 2020). 

The last updates published by the Epidemiology Department about COVID-19, 27,370 confirmed cases (693 new infected) have been reported in the Dominican Republic: 2,726 are in hospital isolation, 8,637 in home isolation, 15,338 recovered and 669 deceased (7 deaths), lethality = 2.44%; per million habitants, the case fatality rate is 64.03. 175 cases have been found in the Intensive Care Unit; 44.43% in Santo Domingo City, 34.29% in Santiago and 9.71% in Duarte Province. 

Median age of total cases: 39 years, interquartile range is from 28 to 53 years. 54.06% (14,795) are men and 75.92% (20,779) of the cases are concentrated in 12 municipalities. In total, there are 223 COVID-19 positive health workers, of whom 65.47% (146) are female. In the last 4 weeks, the positivity of the processed samples is 19.89%. (Diary bulletin).

Extreme Temperatures




Floods are one of the largest and most regular natural disasters in the Dominican Republic. Throughout the years between 1966 and 2000, higher impact floods in the country have had recurrence periods between 4 and 6 years.  The years of most intense recorded flooding have been: 1970, 1975, 1981, 1988, 1993, 1998 and 2007.

From a total of 464 registered floods in the period 1966-2000, just over 50% were caused by rainfall proper to the rainy season, and only 8.4% to extreme weather events (tropical storms, hurricanes and tornado).

About 46% of floods registered in the period from 1966 to 2000 were concentrated in major urban areas such as the National District and several cities in the subregion of Central and Eastern Cibao. The rest were located in throughout entire territory, with a high incidence in rural areas.

The cause of these events is not only the level of precipitation that may occur during the rainy season but also inappropriate or inefficient use of the river system, particularly in Yuma, Camú and Yaque del Norte.

Most recent floods:

  1. November 2003. Flooding on the lower areas of the rivers Yaque del Norte and Yuna. Affected Population: 65,848 people.
  2. May 24, 2004. The floods caused by the overflowing of the White River of Jimani, affected 5,000 people, out of which 500 lost their lives, in the municipality of Jimani and specifically the community Jimani and El Limon,
  3. Between October and November 2007, heavy rains caused by tropical storms Noel and Olga caused extensive flooding, loss of life, destroying more than 38,000 hectares of crops and causing the displacement of over 130,000 people.

On June 16, 2008, storm Fay affected the country through La Altagracia province, killing four people. Due to its rains, 11,760 people were displaced, 446 homes were affected, 30 areas were isolated, and five bridges and highways with considerable damage. 

On August 26, 2008, tropical storm Gustav entered the Pedernales province, killing 8 people due to landslides, some 6,255 people were evacuated, and more than 1,239 houses were damaged and 12 totally destroyed. Around 50 localities were held incommunicado due to flooding. 

Already on September 3, 2008, the Hanna storm was causing heavy rains to the north and northwest regions, as well as in the capital. Hundreds of relatives were displaced without deaths. 

Between September 6 and 8, 2008, news reports indicate that Category Two Hurricane Ike caused the death of a farmer in the Dominican Republic, the displacement of 11,915 people, two destroyed bridges and five blocked roads. 

Between November 4 and 5, 2010, Hurricane Tomás led to the evacuations of 8,400 people, due to the rains, 1,680 houses were affected and in some areas rainfall was recorded with values ​​of 263 and 228 mm respectively. 

On August 4, 2011, storm Emily arrived disorganized in the country, but caused heavy rains, causing the deaths of 3 drowned people. The storm displaced some 7,534 people across the nation and the damage was severe in agriculture, although no figures were specifically provided. 

Days later, on August 22, 2011, Hurricane Irene, category two, affected the north coast of the Dominican Republic and produced winds with storm intensity and prolonged rains. 31,900 people were displaced, 85 communities were isolated, 2,300 houses were affected, of which 16 houses destroyed. 

On August 23, 2012, Hurricane Isaac, category one, on its way through the Caribbean, affected the country and caused the evacuations of more than 7,800 people from the lowlands, isolated 10 areas, destroyed 49 homes and left large electricity without part of Santo Domingo. It caused intense rains in Azua, Barahona, San Juan de la Maguana and Elías Piña, in the West and Southwest of the country, in Jimaní it caused agriculture to collapse.

Although it did not directly impact the national territory, Hurricane Sandy, on October 24 it left intense rains that caused the evacuation of 26,000 people, 4,670 flooded homes in different areas of the country, 141 isolated communities and several destroyed bridges. The rains left damage to agriculture for RD $ 993.3 million, according to official figures. 

On August 28, 2015, Tropical Storm Erika affected almost the entire country, leaving 823 homes damaged and 7,345 people displaced. It blocked 400 roads and left many power cuts, causing losses in the banana harvest for RD $ 400 million. 

Hurricane Matthew, category 5, on October 3, 2016, left four dead, more than 200 houses destroyed and nearly 18,000 displaced people. Until Irma appeared, Matthew considered as the most powerful in almost a decade, leaving at least 573 dead in Haiti. 


Insect Infestation




Volcanic Eruptions


High Waves / Surges


The shores of the Caribbean are exposed to high risk of tsunami. The most common cause is usually a local earthquake, but the tsunami caused by regional and distant movements, volcanic eruptions and submarine landslides also threaten low-lying coastal areas.

The earthquakes that occur in the Dominican Republic with its epicentre in the sea and reach a substantial size, can produce tidal waves or tsunamis on coasts near the epicentre. According to available records, the Dominican Republic has been hit by nine significant tsunamis in 1751, 1769, 1770, 1775, 1842, 1843, 1887, 1946 and 1953, however, the quantification of damages is known in detail only for years 1946 and 1953.



High Winds


The most recent major hurricanes and tropical storms recorded are:

  • Hurricane Georges, September 1998. The most destructive in recent years.
  • Tropical Storm Kyle, 2014
  • Tropical Storm Erika,2015
  • Tropical Storm Fred, 2015
  • Hurricane Mateo,2016
  • Hurricane Harvey ,2017
  • Hurricane Irma ,2017
  • Hurricane Katia,2017
  • Hurricane José, 2017
  • Hurricane Maria,2017

Other Comments


Man-Made Issues

Civil Strike


International Conflict


Internally Displaced Persons


Refugees Present


According to UNHCR, the Dominican Republic is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, and enacted national asylum legislation in 1983. It hosts some 725 refugees with over 200 asylum cases that have remained pending with the authorities over the last ten years. The majority of this population is of Haitian nationality, and entered the country seeking protection during the political turmoil of the 1990s and the early 2000s.

Landmines / UXO Present


Other Comments


For a more detailed database on disasters by country, please see the Centre for Research on Epidemiology of Disasters Country Profile.

Seasonal Effects on Logistics Capacities

Seasonal Effects on Transport

Transport Type

Time Frame

Comments / Details

Primary Road Transport

From May to November

  • Expected in hurricane season: prolonged heavy rains cause landslides that can lead to collapse of bridges and roads, partial or complete obstruction of roads.
  • Affect the increase in transport fares.
  • Strongly affects the shortage of markets and increased consumer prices.

Secondary Road Transport

From May to November

  • Very likely negative impact.
  • Prolonged heavy rains can cause overflow of roads and landslides that block roads and cause their collapse, and therefore can result in partial or complete inaccessibility.

Rail Transport


Air Transport

From May to November

  • Likely negative impact.
  • The closure of airports is likely when hurricanes or tropical storms occur. There may be suspended flights on the day of hurricane or tropical storm. Depending on the extent of the damage occurring in airport infrastructure, normal services are restored.
  • Flood Damage can occur on track and taxiways, communication failure and other damage. Deterioration is common in deposit areas with metal roof structures made of aluzinc.

Waterway Transport

From May to November

  • Likely negative impact.
  • High winds and storm surges affect the physical infrastructure of ports and docks, and the operation and movement of loading and unloading of ships.
  • Ships are also affected by strong waves that occur when a hurricane or tropical storm is approaching.
  • Earthquakes are also likely to produce strong waves and even tsunamis, preventing the movement of vessels and causing damage to coastal infrastructure.

 Rainy season (or similar) from June to November. Storms and torrential downpours generate severe flooding in main streets and avenues in all towns and the capital.  Daily activities, such as trade, transport, education and other work, can be seriously affected.  Due to the deficiencies of the sewerage system, the filter and drains in most of the country cause overflow of roads. 

Seasonal Effects on Storage and Handling

Activity Type

Time Frame

Comments / Details


From May to November

  • No threat affects the storage of packaged foods.
  • The stores are sufficient to allow entry of trucks if necessary, in the event of heavy rain or other adverse weather event capacity.


From May to November

  • No threat affects the handling of the materials which is performed within the store.
  • Not required for pre-provisioning.




Rainy season (or similar) from June to November.  Seasonal effects on storage might be due to over flooding of installations or rain pouring in due to improper infrastructure.  This is considered though a low probability as government and private sector storage infrastructure is regularly well built to withstand torrential rain.  Commodities and supplies though should be covered within the warehouse or hub to ensure if water drips from ceiling openings, they do not affect the supplies and commodities.

Capacity and Contacts for In-Country Emergency Response


The Dominican government has the responsibility first and foremost to coordinate the lifesaving, search, rescue and aid to victims of natural disasters and other emergencies occurring on its territory. Therefore, the State has the primary role in the initiation, organization, coordination and implementation of humanitarian assistance within its territory.

The Dominican government’s National Emergency Commission (CNE), established by Government institutions, civil society organizations and international agencies, is in charge of defining and establishing the institutional and regulatory framework for government and civil society coordination in preparedness and response initiatives with regard to natural disasters.  The Commission’s operational structure is the Center for Emergency Operations (COE), which is responsible for coordinating the operational aspects of the response with all government institutions, private sector, and the humanitarian community.  The country has diverse plans, protocols and procedures that establish the coordination and activation of the national emergency response.

In January 2013 the President of the Dominican Republic created by decree the commission for handling natural disasters within the Ministry of the Presidence.  Its fundamental purpose is the improvement of the effectiveness of military and civil defense in case of natural disaster through the creation of a commission as interagency coordination body.

Act 257 enacted of July 17, 1966 created the Office of Civil Defense for the preparation and execution of all emergency functions arising from disasters caused by flood, earthquake, storm, hurricane, fire, shortage or distribution deficient supply of materials, to protect the lives of the citizens of Dominican Republic. These functions include coordination of the functions of the various departments of the State, its Autonomous Organizations, Churches Auxiliary Fire, Rescue, Engineering, Police, Medical, Communication and Private Entities. The Civil Defence Board is constituted by all the Ministries of State and representatives of Autonomous and Private Institutions.

Law 147-02 of September 22, 2002 on risk management, creates the National System for Prevention, Mitigation, and Disaster Response, as a mechanism of the executive branch to implement a set of measures suitable for management risks whose main objective is the socialization of prevention, risk reduction and mitigation, restoration service and a quick and sustainable recovery.

The National Prevention, Mitigation and Disaster Response CNPMR is the governing body of the sector risk management of the National System and will be chaired by the President and in his absence will be represented by the officer that the delegate.

Covid-19 Government Structure - Response

The Dominican government under the leadership of the Presidency has established five commissions with the purpose of mitigating the impacts of the pandemic COVID-19. 

  • High-Level Commission for the Prevention and Control of COVID-19: is in charge of leading the actions of the Dominican Government in the execution of the coronavirus prevention and control protocols (COVID-19). 
  • Economic and Employment Affairs Commission: is in charge of addressing the economic and employment issues caused by the health crisis of the coronavirus COVID-19. Responsible for the implementation of the ‘Quédate en casa’ or “Stay at Home” program and the Employee Solidarity Assistance Fund (FASE). 
  • Social Affairs Commission: is in charge of leading together with the government social assistance institutions and representatives of social organizations and churches to guarantee permanent assistance to the most vulnerable population in the country, with the distribution of raw and cooked food. 
  • Emergency and Health Management Committee: to combat COVID-19 is in charge of Developing and supervising implementation of preventive strategies to mitigate and reverse the scope of COVID-19; Policies and measures to increase the response capacity of health sector institutions and respond to emergencies and critical citizens. It promotes public-private partnerships to increase the response of the national health system to the pandemic. 
  • Citizen Oversight Commission for COVID-19. 

The Ministry of Public Health (MSP) is the institution with the greatest responsibility in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19), whose main objective is to implement the necessary actions to safeguard all Dominicans against this disease.

For more information on government contact details, please see the following link: 4.1 Government Contact List.

Humanitarian Community

The Humanitarian Country Team (EHP) exists to ensure timely, predictable and effective response of the humanitarian community to support the efforts of the Dominican government to a disaster by strengthening the strategic and operational coordination, according to the principles laid down in the Resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations 46/182.

In particular, the EHP serves as a forum for decision-making and direction of emergency action in case of major events that exceed the capabilities of the emergency response system of the country. The Humanitarian Country Team will be composed of a management level and a technical level.

Executive Level:

The Humanitarian Country Team is chaired by the Humanitarian Coordinator and Resident Representative of the United Nations System (UNS).

The EHP consists of:

  • Heads of Agencies of the United Nations System (UNS), including the International Organization for Migration (IOM).
  • Directors of Non - Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that are a member of the International IASC worldwide with a presence in the country.
  • Representatives of Non - Governmental Organizations or national NGO platforms, with a mandate, expertise and capacity of humanitarian response.
  • Representatives of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the Dominican Red Cross.
  • The World Bank as coordinator of the donor community in the country and aid agencies and other donors that have emergency units in the Dominican Republic.
  • The President of the National Emergency Commission of the country and if a special representative was appointed by the Government.
  • The composition of the Humanitarian Country Team may be amended in accordance with the evolution of emergency, when membership of a new humanitarian actor requested and have the support of the Humanitarian Country Team and / Coordinator / a Humanitarian / Resident Coordinator.

 Technical Level: Humanitarian Task Force

  • Humanitarian Task Force (ETH) is coordinated by the coordinator / UNETT.
  • The coordination of the ETH, is responsible for the technical secretariat, convenes meetings, identifies the agenda, conduct coordination and monitoring, as well as facilitate the exchange of information between team members.

 The ETH is composed of the technical focal points designated by the members of the Humanitarian Country Team's partners / additional partners working in the humanitarian field.

For more information on humanitarian agency contact details, please see the following link: 4.2 Humanitarian Agency Contact List.


Jump to top