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Story Highlights

  • Residents of four communities in the parishes of St. Andrew and Portland, are now better equipped to mitigate the effects of natural disasters.
  • The residents, from Breastworks in Portland; and Melbrook Heights, Harbour Heights and Bedward Gardens in Kingston and St. Andrew, have benefitted from interventions under the Community-Based Landslide Risk Reduction project.
  • The project, which got underway in 2010, was implemented by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), with US$2.37 million in funding from the World Bank through the Japanese Social Development Fund (JSDF).

Residents of four communities in the parishes of St. Andrew and Portland, are now better equipped to mitigate the effects of natural disasters.

The residents, from Breastworks in Portland; and Melbrook Heights, Harbour Heights and Bedward Gardens in Kingston and St. Andrew, have benefitted from interventions under the Community-Based Landslide Risk Reduction project.

The project, which got underway in 2010, was implemented by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), with US$2.37 million in funding from the World Bank through the Japanese Social Development Fund (JSDF).

The primary objectives of the intervention were: to reduce the risks of vulnerable communities to natural disasters, as well as to equip community members with the requisite skills and expertise to effectively manage catastrophic incidents.

It involved mitigation measures and training to reduce natural hazards such as flooding and landslides.

Minister of Local Government and Community Development, Hon. Noel Arscott, hailed the project, which employed low-cost mitigation strategies developed under the Management of Slope Stabilisation in Communities (MoSSaiC) methodology.

“This low-cost, community-based approach to landslide risk reduction is critical, and it works because it is community-centric and community-specific, rather than generally applied,” Minister Arscott said, while addressing the closing ceremony for the project on Wednesday, June 24, at the Altamont Court Hotel in New Kingston.

“The work carried out is proof that communities can be transformed through shared teaching and the application of technology,” he added.

Mr. Arscott noted that over the past 20 years, disasters in Jamaica have resulted in cumulative costs of more than US$1 billion, and interventions such as these are intended to mitigate such losses.

He cited the World Bank’s Natural Disaster Hotspots Report ranks Jamaica as the country with the third greatest exposure to multiple hazards in the world. “This means that 87.7 per cent of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is at risk from disasters, and 87.7 per cent of our population lives in areas at risk from three or more hazards,” Mr. Arscott said.

He noted further that research by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), shows that floods and landslides are Jamaica’s most frequently recurring hazards.

“Unplanned housing developments in vulnerable communities, on steep hill slopes, pose major problems for residents and for Government, at the local and national levels,” Mr. Arscott said.

Persons living in the selected communities benefitted from training in building code awareness and basic construction techniques, time and conflict management, proposal writing, fire and landslide safety, and shelter management.

They also built, ‘V’ drains, ‘U’ drains, walkway drains, step drains, manholes and tyre walls.

Mr. Arscott encouraged the residents to ensure that the drains they have worked to build are not clogged with garbage.

In her remarks, Project Manager at ODPEM, Paula Buchanan, noted that a manual is to be developed called the ‘MoSSaiC Jamaican Tool Kit’ as well a video documenting relevant lessons learnt during the implementation of the project.

She noted that the drains designed and implemented in the four communities were done with full participation from the community members.

“The residents were able to identify the areas that suffered most from landslides and the engineers from the National Works Agency were asked to develop and design the drains to match the descriptions given,” Miss Buchanan said.

Also present at the function was Minister of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining and Member of Parliament for Kingston East and Port Royal, Hon. Phillip Paulwell, who lauded the work done under the project.