Post-Georges Disaster Mitigation Overview


Hurricanes and tropical storms periodically wreak havoc in the Caribbean, creating conditions of disaster among the general population and destroying infrastructure. The capacity of small island states to stabilize and resume normal economic activity following hurricane-induced setbacks depends upon several factors, including the initial level of hazard vulnerability, the size of the country's international reserves, the country's capacity to organize external financial aid flows and the speed with which normal trade patterns can be reestablished.

Hurricane Georges, a category 3 storm, struck the Eastern Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis, 20-22 September 1998. The hurricane caused severe damage to economic and social infrastructure and dealt a serious blow to both islands' economies. In St. Kitts and Nevis, the hurricane affected 85 percent of the housing stock, the majority of schools (including half of the schools that had been designated as shelters) and the general hospital. Electrical, telephone, water and transportation infrastructure were also damaged. One-third of the country's hotel rooms were damaged and up to half of the sugar cane crop was lost. In Antigua, the south coast of the island suffered most of the damage, with 400 homes destroyed, disrupted electrical supply and damage to a number of health facilities. The tourism sector, livestock and fisheries also suffered significant losses.

In response to the damages from Hurricane Georges, the US Agency for International Development-Jamaica/Caribbean Regional Program (USAID-J/CAR), established a program entitled Hurricane Georges Reconstruction and Recovery in the Eastern Caribbean, targeting Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis. This program included three components: restoring hospital services (St. Kitts only), enhancing local capacity for disaster mitigation and reactivating economic activities. The Organization of American States' Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment (OAS/USDE) implemented the disaster mitigation capacity building component for USAID-J/CAR, under the project Post-Georges Disaster Mitigation (PGDM).

Post-Georges Disaster Mitigation Program

The goal of the PGDM program was to reduce the vulnerability of population and economic activities in St. Kitts and Nevis and Antigua and Barbuda to natural hazards, including tropical storms and related flooding and seismic and volcanic hazards, through enhanced capacity for hazard mitigation. Under this broad goal, four specific objectives were pursued in each country:

  1. Develop, adopt and begin implementation of effective national hazard mitigation policies and operational plans.
  2. Adopt national building codes and improve building practices.
  3. Establish comprehensive national emergency shelter policies and programs, with appropriate training for emergency and shelter managers.
  4. Increase public understanding of the need and options for hazard mitigation, through public information and education programs.

Further information about these activities and the overall project is available in the full project proposal.

As natural hazards affect all economic and social sectors in these countries, development of an appropriate response must also be multi-sectoral. To ensure an integrated approach to hazard risk reduction under this project, disaster mitigation councils were established to guide project planning and execution. These councils are composed of public- and private-sector representatives of the national disaster office, physical planning, economic planning, the insurance sector, the tourism sector and NGOs, such as the national development foundations. Activities under the PGDM built on the experiences and lessons of the USAID/OAS Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project.

Program Details

Period of Activity January 2000 - July 2001
Funding Agency USAID/J-CAR in Kingston Jamaica
Implementing Agency OAS Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment

USAID/OAS Post-Georges Disaster Mitigation:

Page last updated on 17 Sep 2001