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PIOJ—Sustainable Development & Regional Planning Division

Beginnings Volume 5 Issue 15 April 2010

Disaster Risk Reduction and Vulnerable Populations in Jamaica


Protecting Children Within the Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Framework

This Issue..

Michelle T. Edwards and Kerry-Ann N. Morris INTRODUCTION

Disaster Risk Reduction and Vulnerable Populations in Jamaica


Off the Bookshelf


Building Disaster Resilient Communities Through Innovation


The Role of Jamaica’s Ecosystems in Disaster Risk Reduction


The Role of Jamaica’s Ecosystems in Disaster Risk Reduction


Earthquake Safety Tips



The growing literature on social vulnerability and disasters clearly demonstrates that natural disasters and other extreme events do not impact populations equally or at random. Lori Peek, Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology at the Colorado State University, argues that deaths, injuries and property losses from disasters tend to reflect larger patterns of social stratification and inequality. Vulnerable groups such as children, often have the hardest time preparing for and responding to disasters, and thus suffer disproportionate impacts when an event actually does occur (Peek, 2007). This paper examines the efforts of Jamaica’s disaster risk reduction programme, through the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), to address the special needs of children in disaster situations. Special focus will be placed on what has been done to meet these needs and how effective these interventions have been to date. This examination will

conclude with a look at the way forward for greater integration of the special needs of this particular sub–group of the population within the Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) framework in Jamaica. THE COMPREHENSIVE DISASTER MANAGEMENT (CDM) FRAMEWORK

Risk is defined as the probability of a hazard occurring that has the likelihood of having a negative impact on certain groups in the society. Disaster Risk Reduction therefore involves the systematic development and application of policies, strategies and practices to minimize vulnerabilities and disaster risks throughout a society to avoid or to limit the adverse impact of hazards within the broad context of sustainable development. The CDM cycle therefore illustrates the ongoing process by which governments, businesses and civil society plan for and reduce the impact of disasters, and take (Continued on page 3)

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From The Editor

On Tuesday, 12 January 2010, a catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake rocked Port-au-Prince, Haiti killing an estimated 230 000 people and injuring some 300 000 more. At the end of the shaking and over 52 aftershocks later, some 1 000 000 persons were made homeless. The earthquake was felt here in Kingston, Jamaica and was a wake-up call to many of us who still find it hard to wrap our minds around the devastation, sense of loss, horror and despair experienced by our Haitian neighbours. As we reflect on the Haitian situation, we need to consider our own level of preparedness for such an event would we have been sufficiently prepared or would we have been in the same position? It is with these thoughts in mind that we chose to focus on Disaster

Risk Reduction in this issue of Beginnings. Our cover story focuses on reducing disaster risks for vulnerable populations with specific focus on children. In this issue we also look at building disaster resilient communities through an innovative Hazard Simulation software developed under the Emergency Recovery Project (ERP) being executed by the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) in collaboration with the Ministries of Health, Education, and Local Government and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM). We complete our focus on disaster risk reduction by summarizing the development and outcomes of the Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Methodology Development P roject (R iVAMP ), a pr oject implemented by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the Government of

Jamaica through the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ). In addition, useful earthquake safety tips are provided and our usual “Off the Bookshelf” feature focuses on literature consistent with our theme. Beginnings would like to thank our contributors for this month—Ms. Michelle T. Edwards and Kerry-Ann N. Morris from the ODPEM and Ms. Loy Malcolm, JSIF. To our readers we hope you will find this issue both informative and useful and remember: “Emergency preparedness is a team sport” (Eric Whitaker) we all have to do our part.

Thank You.

Nadine Brown Editor/Desktop Publisher

WE NEED TO HEAR FROM YOU!! The Beginnings team would like to get your valuable feedback and response in order to provide relevant information and links about issues important to YOU! Send us your input on sustainable development related websites, events, projects, articles, workshops etc. and we will gladly include them in our publication. Please feel free to forward this newsletter to friends and colleagues who may find the information useful. Past issues of Beginnings are posted on the official website of the PIOJ at:


Beginnings Editorial Team Toni-Shae Freckleton Kim Hoo Fatt

is a biannual newsletter of the Sustainable Development & Regional Planning Division, Planning Institute of Jamaica. The opinions expressed by

our contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Beginnings. Please send comments to: The Editor, Beginnings, 16 Oxford Road, Kingston 5. Tel: (876) 935-5058 Fax (876) 906-4465 Email:

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Disaster Risk Reduction (Continued from page 1)

steps to recover after a disaster has occurred. Appropriate actions at all points in the cycle lead to greater preparedness, better warnings, reduced vulnerability or the prevention of disasters during the next repetition of the cycle. The CDM framework is multihazard and multi-sectoral in its application and is concerned 1: Illustration of the Four Phases primarily with integrating vulnerability Fig. of the Comprehensive Disaster assessment and risk reduction into development planning and management (CDERA, 2001) through four major phases: Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery. Mitigation: •

During the Mitigation phase structural and non-structural measures are undertaken to limit the adverse impact of natural hazards, environmental degradation and technological hazards.

Preparedness: in this phase measures are taken to reduce the minimum level possible, of loss in human life and other damage, through the organization of prompt and efficient actions of response and rehabilitation such as practicing earthquake and fire drills.

Response: includes actions carried out in a disaster situation with the objective to save life, alleviate suffering and reduce economic losses. The main tool in response is the implementation of plans which were prepared prior to the event.

Recovery: is also referred to as the recovery and rehabilitation phase, activities are geared towards the restoration of basic services and the beginning of the repair of physical, social and economic damage e.g. lifelines, health and communication facilities, as well as utility systems.


According to the Demographic Statistics 2009, (STATIN, 2010) children (0 to 18 years) accounted for 35.2 per cent (approximately 947 859) of Jamaica’s total population of 2 695 583. Jamaica has an intermediate population with the very young and very old being the most vulnerable to disasters . In any type of disaster, children and adolescents constitute a particularly vulnerable group. Children require special protection as according

to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, they have the right to be the first to receive attention during emergencies. Peek (2007) argues that disasters harm the physical spaces in which children live – their homes, neighbourhoods and schools – and may lead to long-term displacement, disrupt their daily routines and educational progress, threaten their sense of safety and security in the world, cause stress within families and communities and may result in personal injury or the death of loved ones. Clearly children not only have basic survival needs such as food, water and shelter, but also suffer great emotional trauma and require psycho-affective needs such as love, recreation and play (ODPEM, 2005). ODPEM’s Role in Preparing Jamaica’s Children and Schools for Disasters In all societies, children represent hope for the future. Therefore by extension, educational institutions, due to their direct link to children are universally regarded as institutions of learning, instilling cultural values and passing on both traditional and conventional knowledge to younger generations. Understanding the special place that children hold in our society and culture, and their special needs that arise during disaster situations, ODPEM from very early in its beginning, initiated a dynamic preparedness/public awareness programme that focuses on Jamaica’s children and schools. This programme remains a priority for ODPEM and includes activities such as: •

Earthquake drills;

presentations to teachers and students;


the maintenance of a disaster preparedness website specifically targeting children;

designated hazard awareness days are utilized to further prepare the nation’s children for disasters;

and a Culinary Competition where students are asked to create and present original dishes that may be used in a disaster event using non-perishable food items.

Integrating Children’s Needs/Rights Within the Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) Framework: Two ODPEM-Led Approaches Despite the on-the-ground efforts of ODPEM, disaster management policies and practices in Jamaica have been slow in recognizing children as a particularly vulnerable group in any disaster. This has been allowed to happen although Jamaica has ratified the main international treaties that have an impact on the rights of Jamaican children. These are:

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Disaster Risk Reduction ... CRC Article


Status in the CCPA

Article 6 Survival and Development

“…Every child has inherent right to life…”

Not addressed in the CCPA

Article 9 Separation from Parents

“States Parties shall ensure that a child shall not be separated from his or her parents against their will.” “A child temporarily or permanently deprived of his or her family environment … Shall be entitled to special protection and assistance…” “States Parties shall provide … Co-operation in any efforts by the United Nations … To protect and assist such a child and to trace the parents or other members of the family … For reunification with his or her family.” “States Parties recognize the right of the child to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health…” “States Parties recognize the right of the child to education…” “States Parties recognize the right of the child to rest and leisure, to engage in play and recreational activities appropriate to the age of the child…” “States Parties undertake to protect the child from all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.” “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to promote physical and psychological recovery and social reintegration of a child victim of any form of neglect, exploitation, or abuse…”

Article 20 Protection of a Child Without a Family

Article 22 Refugee Children

Article 24 Health and Health Services

Article 28 Education Article 31 Leisure, Recreation and Cultural Activities

Article 34 Sexual Exploitation

Article 39 Rehabilitative Care

Sufficiently addressed in the CCPA

Not addressed in the CCPA. Children not mentioned in the Alien Act.

Insufficiently addressed in the CCPA. Insufficiently addressed in the CCPA.

healthy environment in which all children may flourish (UNICEF, 2004). Jamaica ratified the CRC in May 1991 and passed the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA) in 2004. It is hoped that the CCPA will bring Jamaica in line with the provisions of the CRC; however, there are gaps. For instance, while the CCPA adequately addresses issues of child care and protection in places of safety; children’s homes; and in the care of fit persons, children in other situations, particularly in the access of economic, social and cultural rights, are not adequately addressed. Many of these gaps also have implications for CDM in the Jamaican context. Table 1 displays relevant excerpts from the CRC that are applicable to the rights-based approach for the inclusion of children’s needs in the overall CDM framework. The table further explains whether these excerpts are addressed in the CCPA. Only two articles in the CRC that are applicable to the inclusion of a child-rights approach to CDM in Jamaica are sufficiently addressed in the CCPA: Article 20 (Protection of a Child Without a Family) and Article 39 (Rehabilitative Care). Three articles are insufficiently addressed in the CCPA: Articles 28 (Education), 31 (Leisure, Recreation and Cultural Activities), and 34 (Sexual Exploitation). Articles 6 (Survival and Development), and 22 (Refugee Children) are not addressed in the CCPA.

Insufficiently addressed in the CCPA. Sufficiently addressed in the CCPA.

Table 1: Relevant Excerpts from the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) Applicable to Comprehensive Disaster Management (CDM) & Their Status in the Child Care and Protection Act (CCPA) •

The Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC);

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW); and

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

All three treaties provide a framework for the development of policies and strategies to promote and protect the rights of children and women, to eradicate inequality and discrimination, and to create a

ODPEM Approach #1: Recognizing Children’s Rights in Disaster Management and Response After two severe flooding events in October 2001 and May 2002, the ODPEM realised that their situation reports, though timely, did not adequately and comprehensively reflect the status of children in disaster conditions. In response, with the assistance of the UNICEF Country Office for Jamaica, the ODPEM commissioned an assessment of child-friendly disaster response in May 2002, and a workshop on the development of child-friendly guidelines was held in July 2002. These efforts led to the publication of the Guidelines for Child-Friendly Disaster Management and Response in 2005. The guidelines were developed around six core aspects of the CRC (Figure 2) for integrating a child-rights approach to CDM and sought to ensure that risk management, especially disaster response in Jamaica, uses a child-rights approach (ODPEM, 2005) by recognizing the nine articles above in responding to any type of disaster.

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Disaster Risk Reduction ... & OD ON FO RITI T NU







Figure 2: Core Aspects of the CRC Integrated into a ChildFriendly Approach to Disaster Management and Response in Jamaica The Guidelines serve as an aide-mémoire for planners and implementers in times of emergency. It uses a succinct checklist format that makes it easy for any practitioner in the field to refer quickly to the appropriate sector and guidelines for assistance. ODPEM Approach #2: Building a Culture of Prevention In and Through Schools Disasters present a direct threat to the fulfilment of children’s rights and can, in a very short period of time make it very difficult to ensure the rights of children are protected. This was most vivid in 2004 where schools were used as shelters in the aftermath of hurricane Ivan. Lessons learned from this experience led to the implementation of a project to strengthen the capacities of communities, through schools, to protect children in the event of a natural or man-made slow/rapid-onset emergency.

inseparable priorities for action: disaster risk education and school safety. Making disaster risk education part of national primary and secondary school curricula fosters awareness and better understanding of the immediate environment in which children and their families live and work. According to Salvano Briceño, Director of the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN/ISDR), children who are taught about natural hazard risks play an important role in saving lives and protecting members of the community in times of crisis. Schools also serve as a community’s central location for meetings, group activities, and makeshift hospitals, vaccination centres or places of refuge and shelter in times of disaster. Many of these school buildings, however, are unable to withstand the forces of nature. Recognizing the need for disaster risk education for school children and school safety, the ODPEM/MoEY/UNICEF initiative trained and equipped 150 school-based professionals (teachers, principals and guidance counsellors) and Parent Teachers Association (PTA) representatives from 30 target schools with knowledge and skills to inform and develop comprehensive school emergency preparedness and response plans and sensitize community members on emergency preparedness and disaster management processes and procedures. Topics covered in the training included shelter management, vulnerability community assessment, basic disaster management, how to develop and use a hazard map, basic first aid, and community preparedness and response. Of the 150 school professionals, 41 were equipped with the knowledge and skills to operate, maintain, and communicate through radios in emergency situations. They increased their knowledge about how to best protect the rights of children in emergency preparedness and response activities through the utilization of ODPEM’s Guidelines for Child-Friendly Disaster Management and Response. Some 40 000 children were initially targeted. UNICEF identified the project a Good Practice (ISDR, 2007), meaning that the Project illustrated one and/or several initiatives, such as: •

Promoting awareness on school safety;

Protecting Children in Emergencies by Strengthening the Capacity of Schools and their Surrounding Communities to Respond to Disasters

Integrating disaster management into school curricula;

Training and capacity building of school teachers, students and staff on basic life saving skills; and

This Project, launched in 2005, was a joint initiative of the ODPEM, the then Ministry of Education and Youth (MoEY), and UNICEF Jamaica. The Project was implemented in 2005/2006 in communities most vulnerable to flooding and landslides.

Building the resilience of school facilities to disaster impacts to protect children in the event of a natural hazard.

Protecting children during disasters require two distinct yet

The Project helped to develop 30 school emergency preparedness and response plans and increased the capacities of the targeted 30 schools and their communities to better protect some 40 000

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Disaster Risk Reduction children from potential hazards. Communication protocols and communication mechanisms were also established in partnership with the targeted schools, the MoEY and the ODPEM to facilitate preparedness and response activities. These schools were designated by the MoEY on the basis of their high vulnerability to flooding, landslides or sporadic outbreaks of conflict within the surrounding communities. The ODPEM has made great strides in addressing the needs of and protecting children in disasters through their ongoing preparedness/public awareness campaigns and by creating specific projects to integrate children’s needs/rights in the CDM framework. By recognizing the rights of the child in disaster management and response and building a culture of prevention in and through schools - an ongoing effort - ODPEM and by extension, Jamaica, is committed to raising awareness, mobilizing action, and harnessing existing practices to reduce loss of life, livelihood, as well as social and environmental losses caused to communities as a result of disasters. These activities reflect the five priorities for action outlined in the Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters: 1. 2.

Ensure that disaster risk reduction is a national and a local priority with a strong institutional basis for implementation.

Of the 30 schools targeted, none had previously designed an emergency preparedness and response plan even though there was a general consensus and recognition that such a plan was needed. Lack of resources and technical support were cited as the main challenges to the development of such plans.

Most of the schools had no contingency plans in place to facilitate communication between themselves and emergency responders including the police, fire brigade and, notably the Ministry of Education and Youth (MoEY).

The schools did not have the telephone numbers of front-line responders available or visible for use during and after a rapidonset emergency. Most of the schools did not have the telephone numbers of the local police and fire stations.

Children were not regularly exposed to information on how to prepare for or respond to an emergency situation other than at the annual Earthquake Awareness Day in Schools activities or information available via radio announcements during the annual hurricane season. Children were poorly equipped to respond to rapid and slow-onset emergencies, due to the lack of vulnerability assessments, hazard identifications and precautionary actions/responses to fire, flooding, and earthquakes.

No emergency management or response initiative was available or standardized to care for children with disabilities in schools (although there was a general recognition that these children were even more vulnerable during emergencies) or children living in child-care institutions.

Identify, assess and monitor disaster risks and enhance early

warning. 3.

Use knowledge, innovation and education to build a culture of safety and resilience at all levels.


Reduce the underlying risk factors.


Strengthen disaster preparedness for effective response at all levels.

CONCLUSION While the efforts of OPDEM are all highly commended efforts there is still more to be done. The ODPEM’s Guidelines for Child-Friendly Disaster Management and Response, although serving as an aide mémoire for planners and implementers in times of emergency, there is need for further training in the specifics of the Guidelines and how to effectively implement them in times of emergencies. This includes incorporating the Guidelines in all training material. Approach #2 limitations:

To better protect children within the surrounding communities, the ODPEM and the MoEY recognized the need to expand the initial project implemented in 2005/2006 and build on the lessons learnt to further strengthen the capacities of schools to react before, during and after emergencies. Such an expansion of the work initiated in 2005 will inform the necessary streamlining of the development of emergency preparedness and response plans through schools and child-care institutions by preparing and presenting a how-to guide. The three key lessons learnt from this Project: •

Using a standardized tool for developing school emergency preparedness and response plans greatly facilitates the development of thorough and quality plans.

The availability and access to basic psychosocial support to children and caregivers following an emergency can substantially aid recovery processes and reduce the impact of post-traumatic stress syndrome on children and caregivers.

Increased emphasis must be placed on children and their

also brought to attention the following

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Disaster Risk Reduction protection before, during and after the onset of a disaster situation.

Readings Readings List on — Vulnerable Vulnerable Groups Groups and Disaster Preparedness

REFERENCES Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA), Comprehensive Disaster Management in the Caribbean: Baseline Study, Barbados, 2001 International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR), Hyogo Framework for Action 2005-2015: Building the Resilience of Nations and Communities to Disasters, World Conference on Disaster Reduction 18-22 January 2005, Kobe, Hyogo, Japan ISDR, Towards a Culture of Prevention: Disaster Risk Reduction Begins at School, Geneva, 2007 Madden, Frances, A Child-Friendly Disaster Response Assessment: Commissioned by UNICEF and the Child Support Unit of the Ministry of Health, Kingston, 2002 Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), Guidelines for Child-Friendly Disaster Management and Response, Kingston, 2005 Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), Demographic Statistics 2009, Kingston, 2010 United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Advancing Children’s Rights in Jamaica: Report on Legislative Reform Initiative, Kingston, 2004

Frail Elderly as Disaster Victims: Emergency Management Management Strategies Strategies Disaster Preparedness and the Chronic Disease Needs of Disease Needs Vulnerable Older of Vulnerable Adults Older Adults

Sustainable Development Events Lessons Learned From Hurricane Andrew: Recommendations for Care of thefor Elderly inthe Long-Term FacilitiesCare Recommendations Care of Elderly inCare Long-Term Facilities Sustainable Tourism New Forest, United Kingdom July 5- 7, 2010 | ESRI International User Conference San Diego, California July 12-16, 2010 2nd International Conference and Exhibition on Waste to Wealth & 6th Int'l Conference on Combustion, Incineration / Pyrolysis and Emission Control Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia July 26 - 29 2010 Lessons_Learned_From_Hurricane_Andrew__.1.aspx Lessons_Learned_From_Hurricane_Andrew__.1.aspx Pediatric Disaster Preparedness: Best Planning for the WorstCase Scenario Pediatric Disaster Preparedness: Best Planning for the WorstCase Scenario Pediatric_Disaster_Preparedness__Best_Planning_for.15.aspx Pediatric_Disaster_Preparedness__Best_Planning_for.15.aspx Creating a Regional Pediatric Medical Disaster Preparedness Network:aImperative and Issues Creating Regional Pediatric Medical Disaster Preparedness Network: Imperative and Issues Principles of Disaster Planning for the Pediatric Population Principles of Disaster Planning for the Pediatric Population Disaster_Planning_for_the_Pediatric_Population.pdf

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Off the Bookshelf

Knowing Your Risk Profile

With the increasing vulnerability and exposure of communities to various types of hazards - both natural and man made, it is of great importance that the risks associated with these hazards be taken into account in the decision making process of the overall disaster management policy of such communities. The Community Risk Profile (CRP) tool was developed by UNEP to provide communities with a means of making a rough estimate of various types of risks they are exposed to, supporting the decision making process, especially as to whether or not further assessments are needed. While the CRP is not presented as a risk assessment tool, it provides users with a qualitative approach to characterise an expected level of risk and thus decide on the necessity for further assessment. It is also a tool that can be used to support awareness raising and capacity building activities. Assessing the Vulnerability of Local Communities to Disasters An Interactive Guide and Methodology. Community Risk Profile Tool Author: UNEP Number of Pages: 52 Year of Publication: 2008 PDF available at: DTIx1054xPA-CommunityRiskProfile.pdf

The Story of Plate Tectonics

In the early 1960s, the emergence of the theory of plate tectonics started a revolution in the earth sciences. Since then, scientists have verified and refined this theory, and now have a much better understanding of how our planet has been shaped by platetectonic processes. People benefit from, and are at the mercy of, the forces and consequences of plate tectonics. With little or no warning, an earthquake or volcanic eruption can unleash bursts of energy far more powerful than anything we can generate. While we have no control over plate-tectonic processes, we now have the knowledge to learn from them. This booklet, available online gives a brief introduction to the concept of plate tectonics and highlights some of the people and discoveries that advanced the development of the theory and traces its progress since its proposal. This Dynamic Earth Author: W. Jacquelyne Kious, Robert I. Tilling ISBN: 0-16-048220-8 Available on-line at : Big Caribbean Wave

The Caribbean Sea region, is typically associated with hurricanes and is also prone to the hazard of tsunamis. The authors aim to present the overall existing tsunami hazard in the region by initially presenting an overview of all of the existing tsunami-causing factors found in the region: earthquakes, sub-aerial and submarine landslides, and submarine explosions. Field evidence of recent and pre-historic tsunami events is also presented along with a description of the tsunami hazard mitigation efforts being carried out locally and in collaboration with national and international programs. The book concludes with the presentation of related recent research results. Caribbean Tsunami Hazard ~ Aurelio Mercado-Irizarry (Editor), Philip L. F. Liu (Editor) Hardcover: 364 pages Publisher: World Scientific Publishing Company (February 8, 2006) Language: English ISBN-10: 9812565353 ISBN-13: 978-9812565358

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Building Disaster Resilient Communities Through Innovation By Loy Malcolm



defined as events which trigger the need for external assistance. In instances like these, communities or countries have experienced an event with which they are unable to cope. Therefore, how can we strengthen the capacity of our communities to respond to events at the local level? There are some factors with which we must contend, i) Jamaica’s location and landscape, and ii) the previous levels of damage that Jamaica has suffered as a result of natural disasters. Jamaica’s geographical location makes the island susceptible to severe tropical weather systems, including tropical waves, tropical depressions, tropical storms and hurricanes. These tropical weather systems have resulted in extensive damage to Jamaica’s coastal zone, resulting in losses of more than J$84 billion. The coastal zone is of particular economic value as it is responsible for generating approximately 90.0 per cent of the island’s GDP. Further, approximately 60.0 per cent of Jamaica’s population resides within 2km of the coastline. “Communities that are informed and aware of the risks they face and how to reduce those risks will be better prepared for natural events…”

These inescapable facts demand that we engage our communities in the planning and risk reduction process. While previously, hurricanes and floods were foremost in our minds; recent occurrences have changed this outlook. We therefore need to ensure that risk reduction and planning are fully integrated into all our development activities.

While we cannot prevent the occurrences of natural events (that trigger disasters) we can mitigate the impact on our communities and the country at large. It is with this in mind that the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) through

A section of the model house showing the application of good soil stabilization solutions in building construction.

funding from the World Bank and the Government of Jamaica (GOJ) has sought to introduce and strengthen disaster risk reduction throughout our communities. The Emergency Recovery Project (ERP) is being implemented through a US$10.0 million loan from the World Bank to the GOJ. The project is currently being executed by the JSIF in collaboration with key state agencies namely Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Local Government and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM). One key theme of JSIF’s implementation strategy has been sustainability; this was previously limited to ensuring that the infrastructure investments were properly assessed for suitability and thereafter maintained in good condition. With the onset of the ERP however, this has been expanded to include disaster risk reduction through training. Conveying the message of preparing for events, especially those that seem far-fetched, requires innovative and engaging delivery strategies. It is out of this need to deliver the message in a captivating way, that the ERP disaster risk reduction training tools were conceptualized.

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Building Disaster Resilient Communities...

These visualizations are seen alongside recommended engineering solutions. The life-sized architectural model is used with the software and it allows the individual to see and touch an actual house constructed to depict the dos and don’ts of good construction.

A screenshot of a software generated visualization from a flood event.

An interactive Hazard Simulation software and a lifesized architectural model house form part of the training delivered to the JSIF beneficiary communities. The Hazard Simulation software utilizes multiple layers of GIS data on Jamaica’s hazards (flooding, wind, landslides, earthquakes), and soil types to inform the recommended construction solutions for houses across the country.

Communities that are informed and aware of the risks they face and how to reduce those risks will be better prepared for natural events. The occurrence or onset of these events will trigger informed action by communities. Our communities and by extension Jamaica will be the better for it. For more information on the JSIF and its programmes, visit their website at Loy Malcolm is the Environmental Officer at Jamaica Social Investment Fund

JUST FOR LAUGHS What is the first thing you should do if a hurricane is confirmed to be heading in your direction? a. Check your supplies for the big hurricane party b. Air drop a roadmap, of another area, into the eye c. Put out all your trash for immediate air disposal d. Begin drawing plans for the new house you will soon be building A screenshot of the software interface with which users would interact, observe visualization and view information.

A hurricane is dangerous if...

Community persons will be able to interact with the software and see a visual representation of impact from specific hazards on their communities and housing solutions.

a. you get in its way b. its had a REALLY bad day c. you try to stop it to ask directions d. you do not yield right of way

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IN FOCUS The Role of Jamaica’s Ecosystems in Disaster Risk Reduction


October of 2009, The United Nations Environment

Programme (UNEP) in collaboration with the Government of Jamaica through The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) embarked on the Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Methodology Development Project (RiVAMP). The project was executed over a 6 month period and involved a number of public consultations and workshops in Kingston and Negril. The following is a summary of the project report covering the basis of the methodology, key findings and proposed recommendations. Over 2.2 million people have lost their lives in natural hazardrelated disasters (excluding epidemics) over the last three decades (1975-2008). While population growth and migration to areas of high risk, such as urban centres and coastal areas, raise the number of people affected by hazards, environmental change and degradation further contribute to disaster statistics. According to the 2009 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction, ecosystems degradation is one of the major drivers of disaster risk. As climate change is expected to magnify disaster risk, there is emerging global interest to better understand the role of ecosystems and environmental changes in influencing hazards and vulnerability. Small Island Developing States (SIDS) such as Jamaica, with their limited territories and often heavily populated coastal areas, are at the front line of experiencing ecosystems decline, natural hazard-induced disasters and climate change impacts. SIDS are amongst the countries most at risk from tropical cyclones, with the highest proportion of their population exposed. Sea level rise and deteriorating storm conditions exacerbate impacts of storm surges and flooding associated with tropical storms and cyclones. While SIDS are not major contributors to climate change, they can play a proactive role in adapting to climate change and building resilience against the impacts of natural hazards. Efforts to reduce the impact of natural hazards often require risk information to identify potential hazards and vulnerability of human lives, livelihoods and critical assets to the damaging impacts of those hazards. Although numerous risk assessments are available, common standards and guidelines have only been recently developed. Moreover, assessment methodologies do not yet adequately identify how environmental factors influence patterns of risk and vulnerability. As a result, these assessments fail to incorporate critical aspects of risk and thus do not consider the potential of developing ecosystem-based risk reduction options.

About RiVAMP The Risk and Vulnerability Assessment Methodology Development Project (RiVAMP) was conceived to develop a methodology that takes into account environmental factors in the analysis of disaster risk and vulnerability. While there are different types of risk and vulnerability assessments, what is new about RiVAMP is that it recognizes ecosystems and climate change in the risk assessment process. The purpose of RiVAMP is to use evidence-based, scientific and qualitative research to demonstrate the role of ecosystems in disaster risk reduction, and thus enable policymakers to make better-informed decisions that support sustainable development through improved ecosystems management. In this regard, the targeted end-users of RiVAMP are national and local government decision makers, especially land-use and spatial development planners, as well as key actors in natural resource and disaster management. As a pilot initiative, the RiVAMP methodology is intended mainly for application in SIDS or coastal areas, and focuses on tropical

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Role of Ecosystems...

cyclones and their secondary effects (coastal storm surges, flooding and strong winds). Accelerated sea level rise (ASLR) associated with climate change is also considered as an important factor contributing to the risk of storm surges and beach erosion. Jamaica as a pilot country Jamaica was selected as the first country for the RiVAMP pilot for several reasons, including: its high vulnerability to tropical cyclones and sea level rise; diverse ecosystems and rich biodiversity which are under pressure as a result of population growth, economic development and a strong international tourism industry; high-level government commitment to hazard mitigation and climate change adaptation; and strong partnerships with the University of the West Indies and UNEP’s Caribbean Environment Programme (CEP) based in Kingston, Jamaica. Following a consultative process at the national level, Negril, located in the western end of the country was chosen as the study area for the pilot assessment. Like many coastal areas around Jamaica, Negril’s natural environment is under threat from growing urban and touristic development. The results of the pilot assessment are thus applicable to other coastal, particularly tourism-dependent areas in Jamaica.

• •

Local livelihoods and vulnerability; and Environmental governance.

These four areas aim to establish a systemic understanding of human and ecological interactions, and to identify the driving causes of ecosystem degradation and the potential consequences of increasing hazard vulnerability and exposure. By focusing on governance, RiVAMP seeks to determine opportunities for influencing policies and planning processes so that ecosystems-based approaches are integrated in land-use planning, livelihoods development, disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation strategies. The RiVAMP methodology combines the use of applied science, stakeholder consultations and interviews which allows for improved data triangulation, as the technical analysis is balanced with local knowledge and real experiences. The science-based component consists of satellite imagery analysis, and other remote sensing techniques (e.g. use of aerial photographs), Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping and analysis, statistical analysis and modelling the buffering effects of coastal ecosystems on the coastline under conditions of sea level rise and storm surges. Scientific analyses are complemented by stakeholder consultations that have been undertaken at the national and parish levels and in two selected communities in Negril, namely Whitehall and Little Bay.


provide important services that support economic development, local livelihoods and hazard mitigation, but they are under significant threat from both natural and anthropogenic (or human-induced) sources.”

Practical decision support outputs Specific outputs generated from the RiVAMP pilot in Jamaica include the following: •

Satellite imagery analysis to determine the distribution of coastal ecosystems, specifically coral reefs and sea grasses, and to estimate beach erosion in Negril over the last 40 years;

Hydrodynamic modelling using different offshore wave regimes (i.e. local wind waves, swell waves and extreme storm conditions) and sea levels to study the effects of coral reefs on shoreline protection;

Statistical analyses (using multiple regressions) to establish the correlation between coral reefs and sea grasses and beach erosion, taking into account other factors (i.e. beach slope and nearshore wave regime) that may influence beach loss;

The RiVAMP methodology The initial framework and guidance material for the RiVAMP methodology have been developed through consultations with environmental and risk assessment experts from around the world (see Annex 4). The assessment framework is based on measuring four key components consisting of approximately ten indicators (see Annex 1). The four main areas that are assessed include the following: • Ecosystems and ecosystem services; • Environmental change, as a result of human activities and climate change;

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Role of Ecosystems...

Estimations of future scenarios or risk of beach erosion in Negril under rising sea levels and worsening storm conditions in the region;

A theoretical model of exposure to storm surges and associated flooding in Negril based on a 10 and 50year return storm period;

Local community-generated maps to illustrate environmental degradation over the past 40 years and the corresponding increase of vulnerability to floods and storm surges, which validate the scientific analyses; and

Reports of the national, parish and community-level workshops that provide an overview of ecosystem benefits, and the major drivers of ecosystem degradation as well as proposed solutions.

KEY FINDINGS 1. Ecosystems provide important services that support economic development, local livelihoods and hazard mitigation, but they are under significant threat from both natural and anthropogenic (or human-induced) sources. Major types of ecosystems include coral reefs, coastal vegetation such as sea grasses, mangroves, sand dunes and other types of beach vegetation, wetlands (peatlands), and forests. Each of these ecosystems is in overall decline in Jamaica, particularly in Negril. Natural drivers of ecosystem degradation include the increasing frequency and intensity of tropical storms and cyclones in the region that can cause major environmental damage, rising sea levels and ocean water temperatures due to climate change and variability, and invasive species. Human activities that contribute to ecosystem degradation primarily include land-based sources of pollution associated with crop cultivation, urbanization and coastal and touristic development. 2. Coastal ecosystems, particularly coral reefs and sea grasses, play a crucial role in supplying beach sand material and protecting the shoreline. Hydrodynamic modelling illustrates that the shallow coral reefs attenuate or dissipate nearshore wave energy and thus mitigate against beach erosion. On the other hand, sea grasses are a major source of beach sand supply in Negril. The observed rate of maximum beach erosion from 1968 to 2008 was found to be negatively

correlated with the width of coral reefs and dense sea grass meadows. This means that beach areas shielded by coral reefs and thick sea grasses experienced less erosion, suggesting that these ecosystems provide protection to the beach. The degradation of nearshore ecosystems will therefore result in a diminished beach sediment supply, as well as increased vulnerability to beach erosion and storm surges caused by tropical storms and cyclones. 3. Ecosystems degradation is a contributing factor to increased local vulnerability to flooding and storm surges. Deforestation as a result of urbanization and housing development has increased flooding downhill affecting several sections of the Whitehall Community. Hurricane impact on coral reefs, illegal sand mining activities and unsustainable resource practices (e.g. destructive fishing practices, removal of mangroves, sea grasses and other types of coastal vegetation, and agricultural runoff) have contributed to beach degradation and increased storm surge vulnerability in Little Bay.

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Role of Ecosystems...

4. Scientific evidence shows that over the past 40 years, Negril’s beaches have been experiencing severe and irreversible shoreline erosion and retreat. Bloody Bay in the northern section of Negril has experienced lower erosion rates than Long Bay, with sections of Long Bay beach without coral reef cover showing higher rates of erosion. The highest erosion rates have occurred after 1991, when beach recovery after storms has been slower, and these trends are likely to continue. It is expected that long-term sea level rise, changing patterns of tropical storms and cyclones in the region (in terms of both frequency and intensity), diminishing sand supplies due to coastal ecosystem degradation as well as coastal development will exert an even higher toll on Negril’s beaches. 5. Estimations based on global projections of long-term or accelerated sea level rise (ASLR) together with local predictions of extreme storm waves and surges show that, by 2060, the combination of ASLR and extreme wave surges will have a devastating impact on Negril’s beaches and the coastal infrastructure behind it. Even under the lowest projections of ASLR for 2060, an extreme event (i.e. the 50-year return storm) will result in the total loss of approximately 35 per cent of the beach (in terms of length), while another 50 per cent of the beach will lose more than half of its present width. 6. Taking into account sea level rise, exposure to storm surges and subsequent flooding is expected to put approximately 2 500 people or 14 per cent of the total coastal population at risk during a 50-year return storm event, affecting mainly the Long Bay coastline, the Great Morass environment, the West End cliffs and the New Savannah River area. 7. Ecosystems degradation, together with beach erosion and the increasing impact of tropical cyclones, may over time undermine resource dependent livelihoods, such as fishing, farming and tourism, which are vital to the local and national economy. For instance, declining fish stocks in Little Bay over the past decade have forced many women and men out of the fishing sector, contributing to unemployment.

RECOMMENDATIONS Among the proposed recommendations suggested by stakeholders at the national, parish and community-level workshops are: 1. Strengthening Environmental Governance • Re-examine, update and revise environmental policy and legislative frameworks • Integrate multiple hazard and environmental assessments as part of land-use planning and zoning • Clarify institutional mandates and minimize potential for overlap • Empower and strengthen capacities of local authorities in environmental management, development planning (including land-use and zoning) and disaster risk management • Strengthen cross-sectoral, multi-stakeholder mechanisms for collaboration and coordination 2. Identifying ecological-based solutions for risk reduction • Apply a “ridge-to-oceans” approach to address root

causes of ecosystems degradation, mainstream within the wider context of development planning • Utilize applied scientific research to inform policies and actions • Apply cost-benefit analyses to balance competing stakeholder interests • Develop alternative employment opportunities and skills to support sustainable resource management 3.

Promoting environmental education for effecting behavioural change and local action • Initiate a public education campaign in Negril to raise

local understanding of beach dynamics and the role of ecosystems in beach protection and hazard mitigation

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• • • • •

Before an earthquake Build your home in accordance with the recommended building codes. See your parish council office for details. Bolt heavy furniture, water tanks, water heaters, gas cylinders and storage units to a wall or floor. Place largest and heaviest items on lower shelves. Emergency items such as canned foods, medication, flashlights, battery-operated radios, fire extinguishers and a First Aid kit should be readily available and working properly. All family members should know how to use this emergency equipment and should know how to turn off electricity, gas and water using safety valves and main switches. All family members should know what to do during an earthquake and should practise these safety tips through regular drills.

During an earthquake

• • • • • • •


• • • •

• • •

• • • •

STAY CALM. DO NOT PANIC. BE ALERT. If inside stay inside, do not run out of the building. If inside, stand in a strong doorway or get under a sturdy desk, table or bed and hold on. Do not use elevators or stairs. Move away from windows, mirrors, glass doors, pictures, bookcases, hanging plants and heavy objects. If outside and there are no obvious signs of danger nearby, stay there. If outside, stay away from glass buildings, electricity poles, and bridges. If in a vehicle, do not stop on or under a bridge. Always look out for falling plaster, bricks, lighting fixtures and other objects.

If trapped under debris

• • • •

Do not light a match. Do not move about or kick up dust. Cover your mouth with a handkerchief or clothing. Tap on a pipe or wall so rescuers can locate you. Use a whistle if one is available. Shout only as a last resort. Shouting can cause you to inhale dangerous amounts of dust.

After an earthquake


Check for broken gas lines and fires. Check utilities and switch them off, if necessary. Check your house for serious damage and evacuate if the house seems likely to collapse. Be prepared for more earthquakes (aftershocks). Stay away from landslide-prone areas. Turn on transistor radio for emergency news. If possible, check the Seismic Research Centre’s website at for updates on the earthquake.

Light a match or turn on a light switch. Use a flashlight instead. Touch fallen power lines. Go sightseeing. Leave the streets clear for emergency and rescue vehicles. Attempt to move seriously injured persons unless they are in danger of further injury.

Beginnings - Issue 15  

Beginnings is a biannual newsletter of the Sustainable Development & Regional Planning Division, Planning Institute of Jamaica. The opinio...

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