Post-Georges Disaster Mitigation

Objective 1 | Objective 2 | Objective 3 | Objective 4

Objective 4: Increased public understanding of the need and options for hazard mitigation, through public information and education programs

The impacts of natural hazards are experienced by all sectors and segments of society, particularly in the hazard-prone small island states of the Caribbean. Any effective response to these hazards must also be broad-based and multi-sectoral. To meet this goal, all activities of the Post-Georges Disaster Mitigation Project included representatives of a wide range of agencies, organizations and individuals. Through participation in training courses, working sessions and field work, many individuals and groups who are not typically involved in disaster-related activities gained an understanding of, and experience with, hazard vulnerability reduction tools and techniques. In addition, each component of the project included significant public information activities.

Mitigation Planning. During the preparation of the national hazard mitigation policies and plans, over 60 individuals from a variety of backgrounds were trained in hazard mitigation planning. With the completion of each of the individual hazard assessments, public presentations were made on the methodology, findings, maps and recommendations of each assessment. In both St. Kitts/Nevis and Antigua/Barbuda, open public presentations were held at the conclusion of the hazard vulnerability assessments. In Antigua/Barbuda, the final presentation of the final assessment was well-covered by the local media and a news bulletin on this meeting was distributed by the Caribbean News Agency (CANA). In St. Kitts/Nevis, the vulnerability assessment presentation was coordinated by the Physical Planning Unit; this presentation also provided an opportunity to display and highlight publicly the capabilities of the geographic information system housed at the PPU. Throughout the development of the national hazard mitigation policies and plans, a local advisory group, led by the local disaster offices and assisted by a local consultant, actively participated in the preparation of the plan. The work of this group was presented and vetted by the national mitigation councils in both countries. This hands-on experience with plan development and review by individuals across all sectors of government and the private sector reportedly built a strong understanding of the options and opportunities for hazard mitigation. Final public presentations of the plans were organized in St. Kitts and in Nevis and Antigua/Barbuda.

Strengthened Building Practices. Under this activity, a number of workshops and training courses were organized to build the skills and knowledge of vulnerability reduction techniques and activities. For public and private sector architects and engineers, a five-day course on Multi-hazard Building Design was conducted in the fall of 2000. Building inspectors, associated both with the government building inspectorate and with local banks and insurance agencies, received training on the recently adopted building codes and code review in a two-week training course. During the spring of 2001, public meetings were held to sensitize home owners and home builders on the contents and importance of national building codes and safer building. Finally, a series of roundtables were held with representatives of the local financial industries to develop approaches for promoting hazard mitigation in the insurance and banking sectors. As a result of these meetings, the local professional organizations in both countries have become reactivated.

Emergency Shelter Management. During the development of the national emergency shelter management policies and handbooks, broad public consultations were held at the beginning of the process to identify issues to be addressed. Similar meetings were held at the completion of the draft documents, to provide review and feedback. In organizing these consultations, special emphasis was placed on engaging the coordinators of the district disaster committees, to ensure that the concerns of all parts of the islands were addressed.

The public information activities within the individual project components were supplemented by the development of more general public information materials. In St. Kitts and Nevis, the PGDM supported the National Emergency Management Agency in the development and publication of a series of hazard brochures, in the construction and installation of a billboard and banner campaign, and in funding of radio and TV public service announcements, production of a safer construction video and with the incremental costs for a hazards-related community survey. In Antigua/Barbuda, a series of public information brochures was drafted and a mitigation calypso by Calypso Joe were produced.

Pre-project Baseline (December 1999)

Active hurricane seasons during the past decade-and numerous damaging strikes in both Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis-have reinforced to residents of both countries the destructive power of hurricanes and related hazards. Despite this, mitigation remains a difficult sell.

As part of annual pre-hurricane season preparedness activities, both countries mount public awareness campaigns to reinforce proper preparedness and response activities. To promote hazard mitigation activities, these campaigns must be expanded throughout the year and integrated into a broader range of activities and sectors.

To facilitate a shift in attention towards mitigation activities, a targeted public awareness campaign will be undertaken. This campaign will focus on low- and middle-income homeowners and school preparedness programs, to strengthen preparedness and mitigation within these vulnerable sectors.

No comprehensive program exists to ensure that rebuilding after damaging hazard events will be carried out so that overall vulnerability is reduced by the rebuilding activities.

Expected outcomes

  1. Each country has conducted a targeted public information campaign to promote hazard-resistant building practices.
  2. Each country has implemented a school disaster preparedness program and prepared disaster plans for all schools.
  3. Each country has organized and trained a disaster auxiliary corps and has developed an action plan for the corps for post-disaster activities.

Pre-PGDM Documents and Reference Information

USAID/OAS Post-Georges Disaster Mitigation:

Page last updated on 17 Sep 2001