An Atlas of natural hazards in Jamaica was officially launched on September 26, by Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill.
The publication entitled, 'Natural Hazards Atlas of Jamaica', is authored by Dr. Parris Lyew-Ayee, Jr., Geologist and Director of the Mona Geo-Informatics Institute, and Urban Geologist and Lecturer in the Department of Geography at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona, Rafi Ahmad.
The atlas is a detailed compilation of 'geo-coded' data on the four areas of natural hazards that have impacted Jamaica from as far back as the 1850s. These include floods, landslides, earthquakes and hurricanes. It consists of a collection of maps, photographs and data that give the reader a clear insight into the various hazards that have impacted Jamaica over the years.
In his address, Minister Pickersgill hailed the atlas as a very "valuable tool", noting that it is very comprehensive and informative, taking into account all parishes.
He pointed out that disasters over the past decades have caused close to 800,000 deaths worldwide, with earthquakes accounting for nearly 60 per cent of all disaster-related deaths.
"Over the years we have been working on different projects to identify and reduce disaster prone areas, and to incorporate this into planning. I am quite impressed and pleased to note that this atlas has been simplified and is quite easy to understand and use," Mr. Pickersgill said.
"Because each parish has different topographic features and unique characteristics, it is most interesting to read the historical facts on what natural hazards have occurred in each parish, as well as the current figures and statistics," he added.
The Minister said a copy of the atlas should be in each school library and corporate office across the island, as it offers something for everyone, even those who do not have the time to read facts and figures.
"We have a tool that can be utilised by planners and decision makers as well as homeowners to determine what disasters they are prone to, and just how vulnerable they are. The photographs in the atlas should provide a reality check for us all on the kinds of damage that we have faced as a result of natural disasters," he noted.
Mr. Pickersgill said the atlas will be of great interest to all agencies engaged in the planning, use and management of land, students and teachers in both secondary and tertiary institutions, and local community members.