Harbour Heights, a community overlooking Harbour View in the hills of East Rural St Andrew, will be the first to benefit from a pilot landslide mitigation project, to be implemented by the Office of Disaster Management and Preparedness (ODPEM).
Titled the Jamaica Landslide Risk Reduction Project, it is being financed by a US$2.37 million grant from the Japanese Social Development Fund, an affiliate of the World Bank. The programme is slated to cover four communities over a three year period, beginning with Harbour Heights.
Project coordinator at ODPEM, Kirk Frankson, told JIS News that Harbour Heights, a former Operation Pride settlement, was chosen because it met the criteria of a compact settlement with residents at risk and vulnerable.
The mitigation project will include the plotting (with the aid of GPS technology and local ‘lay-of-the-land knowledge), outlining and erecting of a series of drains, gutters, channels and rainwater harvesting strategies that will act as natural hazard intervention techniques.
“We’ve actually completed the process of creating the community hazard map and are completing a proposed drainage plan. We’ve engaged the community in several sensitization sessions and workshops,” Mr. Frankson said.
The works programme in Harbour Heights is scheduled to start in another three months. Itaims to reduce the risk of natural disasters in vulnerable communities.
The concept is based on the Management of Slope Stability in Communities (MoSSaiC) methodology, developed by a team of researchers from the University of Bristol, Professor Malcolm Anderson and Dr. Elizabeth Holcombe. It was first implemented in St. Lucia, which had a similar landslide problem.
According to Mr. Frankson, one unique aspect of the project is the employment opportunities for persons the residents.
“So, we’ll be doing significant community-based contracting, where we create short-term employment for persons in the community and, through a multiplier effect, ensure that the community benefits from the process,” he said.
Mr. Frankson noted that experience has taught that when implementation of projects is done by communities, it creates a level of sustainability for the development, as the residents take some level of responsibility and are more likely to protect and maintain it.
By O. Rodger Hutchinson, JIS PRO