The Community Based Landslide Risk Reduction Project, being implemented by the Office of Disaster Planning and Emergency Management (ODPEM), will inform Government strategy on disaster risk reduction in vulnerable community.
This is especially in relation to communities that are categorised as marginalised or informal settlements, said Senior Director for Mitigation Planning and Research at ODPEM, Karema Aiken-Mitchell, at a recent JIS Think Tank.
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“We certainly provide input to the housing policy, the hazard risk reduction policy and to NEPA’s (National Environment and Planning Agency) development plans and orders. So… we certainly do provide that disaster rate reduction information for these policies,” she said.
Four communities, previously informal settlements that have been regularised, are benefitting under the project, which involves mitigation measures and training to reduce natural hazards such as flooding and landslides.
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The mitigation strategies include putting in traditional terracing, benching of slopes, planting of grass and the implementation of drains and gutters.
Mrs. Aiken-Mitchell said that while some regularisation of these communities have taken place through strategies like Operation Pride, “the infrastructure to support that regularisation of tenure has not gone along with that process and so this is an excellent opportunity to put systems in place to reduce that risk for the communities."
She said that through the project, regulators and planners are taking a second look at the informal settlements to see how applicable this project can be in reducing their risk. This is especially in areas where a high level of poverty exists and where communities exist on marginal lands leading to abnormal exposure.
“So, this very innovative project is forcing us to look, not just at the organisational level but at the wider government policy, on how we can intervene in other similar communities and reduce the risks,” she noted.
Mrs. Aiken-Mitchell informed that ODPEM’s Director General, Ronald Jackson, has prepared a Cabinet submission “looking at how informal developments are assessed, tenure issues, and at risk reduction measures to be implemented”.
The Community Based Landslide Risk Reduction Project, which is being implemented through funding from the World Bank, employs low-cost mitigation strategies developed under the Management of Slope Stabilisation in Communities (MoSSiC) methodology.
The MoSSaiC strategy, developed by United Kingdom-based geologists, uses a simple implementation formula, in which a process called ‘Community Mapping’ is utilised. This involves having members of the MoSSaiC team, members of the ODPEM and the community walking through the areas, with community members pointing out the locations where they get a lot of water, where the water goes, where the landslides occur, and where houses might have been lost due to landslides. Based on that information, a map is then plotted with GPS data.
Decisions are then made, in conjunction with the community, regarding where to put drain networks and gullies that can stop the water from saturating the soil, especially near to homes, thereby reducing the risk of landslides.
The four communities identified to benefit under the project are Harbour Heights, Melbrook Heights and Bedward Gardensin St. Andrew and Breastwork in Portland.
Harbour Heights, a regularised community overlooking Harbour View, is the first test case, where some $50 million is to be spent erecting a network of drains, channels and rainwater harvesting strategies that will act as natural hazard intervention techniques.
By O. Rodger Hutchinson, JIS PRO