JIS News

The disaster resilience and risk mitigation capacities of four communities are being boosted, under a project to be implemented by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), at a cost of $6 million.

The project, ‘Management of Slope Stability in Communities (MoSSaiC)’, primarily entails drain infrastructure improvement works, among other activities, aimed at reducing flooding, and improving slope stability to curtail the incidence of land slippage, and other occurrences resulting in dislocation for the residents.

Approximately 20,000 residents will benefit from the undertaking in the targeted communities where the project will be undertaken as a pilot, beginning in the next few months. These are Harbour Heights, Melbrook Heights, and Bedward Gardens in St. Andrew; and Breastworks, in Portland.

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Funded through the World Bank with financing from the Japan Social Development Fund (JSDF), the project is slated for execution over 12 months by the National Works Agency (NWA).

A contract for the work was signed by ODPEM’s Acting Director General, Richard Thompson, and NWA Chief Executive Officer, E.G. Hunter, during a brief ceremony at ODPEM’s Haining Road offices, in Kingston, on June 25.

Senior Director for Mitigation, Planning and Research at ODPEM, Kareema Aikens-Mitchell, informed that the communities are the first beneficiaries of the programme, and outlined the rationale for their selection.

“We had a number of criteria that we used to evaluate the need. Because (the undertaking) is looking at improving landslide risk in certain communities…you had to have high density, and we can clearly see that in the communities that we are working with. There has to be some element of social vulnerability. Also, we had to be working with a particular slope gradient, where landslide risk is prominent,” she explained.

Mrs. Aikens-Mitchell said the work will see the construction of main drains, intercept drains, and feeder drains, among other features.

“At the end of the project, we hope to replicate the methodology across other communities in Jamaica,” she said.

For his part, Environmental Engineer at the NWA, Dr. Mark Richards, indicated that the agency has commenced surveys in the project areas and will shortly be “going into the design phase” for the project plans being drafted.

“We expect to be in the communities within a few months, so once the designs are complete and we get contractors on board, then actual work will start,” he assured.

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In his remarks, Mr. Thompson pointed to ODPEM’s “role and responsibility” in ensuring that “our communities are more resilient.”

He underscored that “this community-based landslide risk reduction project is part of a bigger framework as it relates to building disaster-resilient communities.”

Mr. Hunter said the NWA welcomed the opportunity to partner with ODPEM in executing the project. Noting that the agencies are “usually united” in national disaster recovery efforts, he pointed out that “it is good to see that we are now engaged in a mitigation effort.”

He assured that the NWA is committed to “delivering this project on time, within budget, and in accordance with stipulated specifications.”

Contact: Douglas McIntosh

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