Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project
Implemented by the Organization of American States
Unit of Sustainable Development and Environment
for the USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance and the Caribbean Regional Program


Bulletin Date: December 1999

On 10 May 1997 at the culmination of the Caribbean/United States summit, the nations of the Caribbean and the United States signed an agreement entitled Partnership for Prosperity and Security in the Caribbean. A number of committments in section 5 of this document, 'Disaster Preparedness and Response', relate to activities of the Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project. This bulletin contains the text of this section, augmented by descriptions of applicable CDMP activities.

Partnership for Prosperity and Security in the Caribbean

5. Disaster Preparedness and Response

We recognise that the Caribbean region is vulnerable to several forms of natural disasters including hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes and flooding. This vulnerability has been compounded by the geographic situation of the region, which makes the Caribbean Sea a transit area for many cargoes of a potentially hazardous nature.

We also recognise the important role of preparedness and mitigation in reducing the vulnerability of our states to such natural disasters. We pledge to continue to coordinate our efforts and improve our ability to detect, monitor and respond to natural disasters. We affirm the priority of investment in planning, preparedness and mitigation initiatives, to strengthen the capacity of countries in the region to protect themselves from disasters and to decrease the need for emergency response resources in the future.

We therefore agree that:

  1. The United States will continue to assist, whenever possible, in the provision of logistical support in disaster response, including search and rescue and the supply of humanitarian assistance;

cdmp No activity.

  1. Unaffected countries will give speedy consideration to assisting affected countries in their rehabilitation process;

cdmp No activity.

  1. The Caribbean nations will take steps to reduce damage by hurricane and other natural disasters, by encouraging effective building design and construction standards through the promotion of the Caribbean Uniform Building Code (CUBiC);

cdmp The Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project (CDMP) has worked with the UN Centre for Human Settlements (UNCHS) to assist countries in adopting a national building code, based on the OECS model code. Under this activity, CDMP has provided assistance to Antigua & Barbuda, Belize, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada and St. Lucia. See the CDMP progress bulletin "National Building Code Development" and the Hazard-resistant Construction page for more information.

cdmp CDMP has completed a study of major public and private infrastructure projects that have failed in the region due to the effects of natural hazards. The study’s goal was to determine where it is best to incorporate hazard assessments and hazard mitigation techniques in the development process. Products of this study include an assessment of the costs and benefits of hazard mitigation for the reviewed projects and a design manual for incorporating hazard mitigation into engineering design. See the "Investing in Mitigation: Costs and Benefits" section of the CDMP web site and the CDMP progress bulletin "Causes of Building and Infrastructure Failure due to Natural Hazards" for more information.

cdmp CDMP supported a three-week training course for building inspectors from territories in the Caribbean that have recently updated their building codes. This course was developed and conducted by the Barbados Community College. See the Hazard-resistant Construction page for more information.

cdmp The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has agreed to provide a grant to support the update of CUBiC. To assist in this effort, CDMP supported the development of a full proposal to update CUBiC. This proposal has been delivered to the CDB for review.

  1. The United States will provide technical assistance to support the building of a regional capacity for conducting natural hazard assessments, integrating these assessments into national development planning processes, establishing hurricane models for vulnerable countries, undertaking seismic monitoring of volcanoes—including underwater volcanoes—and training in the handling of hazardous materials during chemical emergencies;

cdmp CDMP has supported the development of the Caribbean storm hazard assessment model, TAOS/L. This model enables accurate estimation of the storm surge height and maximum wind speed resulting from tropical storms. This model can be run for any location in the Caribbean for any storm, whether historic, hypothetical or currently in progress. The Caribbean Institute for Hydrology and Meteorology in Barbados has been designated as the regional home for TAOS/L and has been provided with the model software, along with the necessary training and support to produce country-specific storm hazard maps. Maximum Envelope of Water (MEOW) map atlases have been developed for eight countries/territories in the Eastern Caribbean. See the ‘Storm Hazard Modeling’ link on the CDMP web site for more information.

cdmp The CDMP has produced coastal storm hazard assessments for Belize, Montego Bay Jamaica and portions of the coasts of Antigua and Dominica using the TAOS model. In Kingston, Jamaica, CDMP is undertaking a multi-hazard assessment, encompassing seismic, landslide and coastal storm hazards. See the CDMP progress bulletin "Kingston Multi-hazard Assessment" for more information.

cdmp Hazard mitigation planning provides a framework for the incorporation of hazard and vulnerability assessment information into governmental policies and development plans. In 1997, CDMP and CDERA collaborated on the development of hazard mitigation planning materials and a weeklong workshop for natural disaster coordinators and national development planners from throughout the region. In March 1999, CDMP organized a four-day workshop on "Hazard Mapping and Vulnerability Assessment," once again bringing together disaster coordinators and development planners from the region. CDMP is currently supporting hazard mitigation planning pilot projects in Jamaica, St. Lucia, Grenada, Belize and Trinidad and Tobago. See the ‘Hazard Mitigation Planning’ section of the CDMP web site for more information.

cdmp The CDMP has supported work at the Seismic Research Unit of the University of the West Indies, Trinidad, to prepare sub-regional maps of seismic hazards in the Caribbean. See the CDMP progress bulletin on "Regional Seismic Hazard Information" for more information on this activity.

cdmp In March 1999, CDMP organized a workshop on "Hazard Mapping and Vulnerability Assessment" for physical planners and disaster coordinators from throughout the region. The aim of this workshop is to broaden the exposure to hazard mapping in the region and to demonstrate applications of this information in development and emergency planning. Further information is available Hazard Mapping Resources page of the CDMP web site.

  1. The United States will assist the Caribbean in exploring the availability and means of accessing disaster assistance programmes currently available in the World Bank and the IDB;

cdmp CDMP undertook the study "Insurance, Reinsurance and Catastrophe Protection in the Caribbean," which served as the basis for the CARICOM Working Party Report on Insurance and Reinsurance. CDMP is assisting the World Bank in a feasibility study of one of the report’s recommendations, the creation of a regional catastrophe insurance pool. CDMP is also collaborating closely with the World Bank and the Caribbean Development Bank on the development of the CDB’s disaster mitigation guidelines, which include provisions for rapid access to post-disaster reconstruction funds and considerable support for the funding of hazard mitigation activities both before and after disaster events. See the CDMP progress bulletin "Promotion of Loss Reduction Incentives and Hazard Mitigation in the Property Insurance Industry" and the Insurance, Reinsurance and Natural Hazard Vulnerability Reduction page for more information.

cdmp In conjunction with the World Bank, CDMP has carried out a study to estimate the probable maximum losses in public infrastructure from a major hurricane event in the Eastern Caribbean, focusing on the countries of Dominica, Saint Kitts and Nevis and Saint Lucia. This study was completed in July 1999. See the progress bulletin "Estimate of the Probable Maximum Loss from Tropical Storm Events" for more information.

  1. The relevant United States agencies will provide training opportunities in areas such as the handling of hazardous materials, dealing with chemical emergencies and disaster prediction and forecasting;

cdmp No activity.

  1. The United States and Caribbean agencies will cooperate to develop and promote common search and rescue protocols to govern medical evacuations, support logistics for humanitarian supplies, and overflight in search for survivors and survey damage;

cdmp No activity.

  1. We will develop and support mechanisms and procedures for civil-military, public and multi-country cooperation in planning joint exercises and mutual assistance for response to natural and technological disasters in the region;

cdmp No activity.

  1. We will continue efforts to maintain the Cooperative Hurricane Upper-Air Network; and

cdmp No activity.

  1. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) will collaborate in defining further areas of technical cooperation.

cdmp No activity.

CDMP home page: Project Contacts Page Last Updated: 20 April 2001