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Hazard Mitigation & Vulnerability Reduction Plan
Jérémie, Haiti

A Programme to Mitigate the Impacts of Natural Hazards

Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project
Unit of Sustainable Development and Environment
Organisation of American States
Washington, DC

May 1999

This report was prepared for CDMP by:

Ravidya Maharaj
Department of Geography and Geology
University of the West Indies
Mona Campus, Kingston 7

Axel Kravatzky
Tet Ansanm Ltd., 22, Warner St.
St. Augustine, Trinidad & Tobago

Note: the electronic version of this report is divided into four parts. This is the first part and contains the executive summary. The other three parts contain Sections 1-3, the appendices and the photo inventory.







2.1.1. Hurricanes and High Winds
2.1.2. Storm Surges and Coastal Flooding
2.1.3. Landborne Floods
2.1.4. Droughts and related hazards
2.1.5. Slope Instability
2.1.6. Riverbank erosion
2.1.7. Subterranean Collapses
2.1.8. Earthquakes
2.1.9. Shoreline Erosion
2.1.10. Groundwater Contamination
2.1.11. Boatwrecks
2.1.12. Fires


2.2.1. Demographic Characteristics
2.2.2. The Range of Hazards
2.2.3. Impacts of Hazards Life Community Health Property Livelihood

2.2.4. Coping with Disasters
2.2.5. Awareness
2.2.6. Connections
2.2.7. Observations Structures & Infrastructure Environmental conditions Environment/rurality


2.3.1 Identification of Critical Facilities
2.3.2. Classification of Critical Facilities
2.3.3. Sphere of Influence of Jeremie




Appendix I Sample Vulnerability Survey Questionnaire
Appendix II Sample of Semi-structured questionnaire for organisation interviews
Appendix III Sample Semi Structured Interview for Critical Facilities Inventory
Appendix IV Details on key Probabilistic Analyses
Appendix V Volunteers for Vulnerability Survey
Appendix VI Individuals and Organisations contacted and/or Interviewed
Appendix VII Members of the Disaster Mitigation and Management Committee of Jeremie (CMGD-J)


Table 1: Disaster Cycle
Table 2 Causes of direct and indirect hazards
Table 3 Hurricane affecting Jeremie
Table 4 Mean monthly rainfall for Jeremie and Jacmel (mm)
Table 5 Floods resulting from heavy rains associated with hurricanes
Table 6 Reported morbidity in the Town of Jeremie (Hospitals & Clinics), 1998
Table 7 Communities of Jeremie
Table 8 Ratio of female household heads to male household heads
Table 9 Occupations by gender
Table 10 Most feared hazards in Jeremie
Table 11 Relative Importance of Hazards in Areas of Jeremie
Table 12 Responses indicating worsening disasters
Table 13 Reported deaths from natural or technological hazards
Table 14 The incidence of illnesses after hazards have occurred (community ranks)
Table 15 Lack of Access to Health Care (Community ranks)
Table 16 Medical Personnel employed by Medical Institutions in Jeremie
Table 17 Relative vulnerability of structures
Table 18 Relative vulnerability of infrastructure (community rank)
Table 19 Fears of Loss of Access to Livelihood Earning Factors (community rank)
Table 20 Rurality Indices
Table 21 Reasons why people are affected by hazards (counts)
Table 22 Percentage of Households with family outside Jeremie
Table 23 Metadata for Observations sheet
Table 24 Data about structures and infrastructure
Table 25 Environmental Conditions in each of the communities
Table 26 Stockpiles, animals and land-use
Table 27 Inventory of Critical Facilities
Table 28 Distribution Statistics for Number of Households in Jeremie


Figure 1 Historic Hurricane Tracks affecting Southwestern Haiti
Figure 2 Drainage of Jeremie
Figure 3 Hazards Affecting Jeremie
Figure 4 Surveyed Zones
Figure 5 Critical Facilities
Figure 6 Partial decision tree showing derivation of Total Number of Households estimate
Figure 7 Frequency Histogram on "Number of household estimate" using Monte Carlo Simulation
Figure 8 Cumulative probability distribution for "Number of Households" based on Monte Carlo Simulation


The Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project (CDMP) seeks to promote public/private sector disaster mitigation and preparedness initiatives and to carry out pilot projects in specific communities, with the goal of establishing community-based, sustainable disaster preparedness and prevention programs. CDMP has assisted with the establishment of disaster management committees in three communities in the southwest peninsula. To further the work of these committees, CDMP contracted consultants to prepare these community-based hazard assessments. Jeremie is trying to develop under difficult conditions. Disasters, whether caused by natural or technological hazards, have the effect of setting most people back and stifling development. Four essential dimensions capture the most significant effects of disasters:

Life: direct and indirect loss of life as a result of natural or technological hazards.

Livelihood: the extent to which livelihood systems are disrupted or made less resilient (more vulnerable) through direct or indirect effects of natural or technological hazards. Measure: number of working days lost or spent on recovery, and increase in dependence on single income source

Health: Reduce the extent to which human health is affected by natural or technological hazards.

Property: Reduce the extent to which property (houses, land, crops, animals, goods) is damaged through natural or technological hazards.

In order for disasters to occur, natural phenomena must intersect with people who are exposed to it. To understand the processes by which these two elements interact and to identify effective mitigation interventions, natural and social phenomena need to be examined in tandem and the two perspectives must inform and guide each other in an iterative way. In this section we first present a situational analysis of the natural or technological phenomena which constitute the different types of hazards, and we then turn to the vulnerability analysis which examines the extent of and reasons why different stakeholder groups or zones of Jeremie are exposed to the hazards.


Hurricanes and High Winds

The main hazard considered under this heading is hurricane force winds. In this century, 14 major hurricanes have affected the southwestern peninsula of Haiti (the tracks of the ones directly affecting Jeremie are given in Figure 1). Forty-two percent of these storms have been more intense than a Category 3. Since the 1950's, there is an increased likelihood of between 1 and 3 hurricanes striking per decade. The most intense of these has been Hurricane Allen, which was a Category 4 hurricane, with winds gusting up to 260 km/hr (140 knots) and the lowest recorded pressure (for Jeremie) of 945 Mb. In this century, hurricanes affecting Jeremie have been limited to the period August to November, with 9 of these occurring in September and October. Whether a system makes landfall is important because once it makes landfall it loses strength, and may become less organised. The most dangerous ones are those that pass through the Jamaica passage, heading northwards toward the Windward Passage (sea between the northern peninsula and eastern Cuba). More than half of the hurricanes affecting Jeremie this century made landfall on the south coast of Hispaniola. Hurricanes that make landfall across the Dominican Republic and travel north of Port au Prince, like hurricane David, are likely to have the lowest impact on Jeremie. Hurricanes that make landfall on the SW peninsula pose a lower hazard of storm surge and high winds as they become less organised and gain pressure, although the threat of floods from associated rains is still great. The worst-case scenario for Jeremie is the system that travels close to the Jamaica passage. Hurricanes Gordon, Greta, Allen and Gilbert all did this. These systems have the potential for the low pressures as they come closest to Jeremie, producing the strongest winds, lowest pressures (therefore high surges), and greatest levels of rainfall.

Storm Surges and Coastal

Hurricane-related low pressures (that have affected Jeremie in the past) range between 1001 (Gordon) and 945 MB (Allen). The minimum atmospheric pressure recorded for the region has been ~880 MB (Gilbert, 1988). Coastal flooding is more likely to be the result of strong winds rather than surges in this area. It is not likely that the zone most vulnerable to coastal flooding will exceed the 3-m contour, which has been tentatively indicated on the multi-hazard map as the zone most vulnerable to coastal flooding.

Landbourne Floods

On average, there are about 105 rain-days per year in Jeremie. There appears to be less than a 1% chance (17 of 1710 events) that any rainy day will result in the accumulation of over 100 mm of rain (the maximum record was 402 mm, for which there is 0.06% chance of exceedence on any rainy day). By comparison, with other regional data (Jamaica and Puerto Rico) the figure of 100 mm of rain being the 100-year event (1% chance) seems very low, and the reliability if the data is further questioned by the authors of this report. Despite these statistics, the residents of Jeremie report that there is a 100% chance of a major flood occurring in any given year. Some reports (personal communications with residents) suggest that there is a 100% chance that there will be more than one flood event in any given year. Again, this suggests that the data available for analysis is spurious.

High volumes of overland flows are most likely to occur under two sets of circumstances:

  1. In the wet season (May and October-November) or a period of extended rainfall, that has resulted in high antecedent moisture.
  2. Where intensity of rainfall (mm/hour) exceeds the infiltration capacity of the soil.

Flooding in Jeremie results from high volumes of overland, which can be accommodated by the existing drainage infrastructure, and not from the incidence of unusually high magnitude rainfall events. Due to the cause of the problem, the situation is likely to become worse unless steps are taken to increase infiltration, and accommodate the storm water discharges. Additionally, under both sets of circumstances, particularly the second, the potential for flash flooding is great. Flash flooding refers to the response of overland flow systems (including channels) to particular rainfall events: in the case of a flashy response, there will be rising stage (water levels) within a short period after the event. As land use patterns in the town result in the creation of less permeable surfaces in the catchments of Madam Codo/Berquier, the flashiness of the response will increase (i.e. the time lag will decrease), and there will be greater volumes of overland flows for smaller storms.

In the absence of up to date topographic information and aerial photographs, oblique aerial photos were made. Based on discussions with residents of the town (concerning where the problem areas were), existing topographic maps and information from the oblique aerial photographs, transect loops were selected for ground truthing. Mapping of the 50-year floodplain of the Grande Anse was done by terrain analysis. The bridge at Plaine Bac was built in 1950, and is approximately 15 m above sea level; as this structure has never been inundated it can be assumed that the 15-m contour at least represents a greater than 50-year event. Geomorphological evidence indicated that the annual event (i.e. that with a 100 % chance of being exceeded in any given year) occurs at the 7-m level. There are several sections of the town of Jeremie that have been mapped as floodprone:

In all cases, flooding affects roads, causing major disruptions in people's ability to travel to work, markets, and school. In the case of Rue Martineau some fatalities have been caused by floodwaters. Flooding of buildings has only been reported from the Berquier area, and around Rue Sacre Coeur College at Source Dommage. Although high levels of overland flows cause flooding, the major problem in the town is that the storm water disposal capacity in most drains is grossly inadequate.

Droughts and Related Hazards

Drought generally refers to lower than expected levels of rainfall or available water. In an urban setting like Jeremie, the impacts of inadequate rainfall include:

Severe droughts have been reported in 1980, and March-July 1993, and March-August 1996. Droughts are experienced in the months when effective moisture is lowest. These are not the driest months, but the months when evapotranspiration rates exceed rainfall, (March to August). The 2-year drought (or the event with a 50% chance of occurring) is 540 mm or less for this period. The 5% chance or 20-year event is ~280 mm total rainfall for the period March to August. In the vulnerability survey many respondents named drought as a major hazard affecting their lives. However, upon discussion with individuals it appears that the word "sechresse" to some extent was also used to describe water insecurity. Official sources claim that true drought is not in fact a major problem in Jeremie. The issue of water insecurity involves a situation where there is inadequate supply of potable water to the municipal population of Jeremie, despite a natural high yield aquifer. At present, only 992 houses and 29 public standpipes are supplied with water in the commune of Jeremie, many of these located within the actual town; this suggests that more than 80% of the households in Jeremie are without access to piped water under normal conditions.

Slope Instability

Rockfalls occur where the rock is brecciated mainly in association with NW trending fault escarpments, in areas near Bordes, Berquier, and Versailles in particular.

Riverbank Erosion

This phenomenon is restricted to the banks of Madam Codo, where highly erodeable sediments and high seasonal flows have created deeply incised valleys. The hard white micrite that forms the bedrock in this area is interbedded with relatively thick clastic sequences, which comprise conglomerates, sandstones, and siltstones. These clastic units are more erodeable and therefore develop negative relief in relation to the white micrite. Vertical incision of more than 20 m was observed along the course of Madam Codo. This high rate of erosion appears to have been exacerbated within recent times, as the remains of houses (foundations) and still living (toppled) trees have fallen into the incised valley of Madam Codo (see map for areal extent of this phenomena).

Subterranean Collapses

Younger more impure limestone occurs at elevations below 30 m, especially towards the western section of the study area, and along the shoreline. This rock contains corals, as well as rubble from the older white limestone. Numerous smaller subterranean caverns have been reported near La Source, e.g. near the College of Sacre Coeur. These features appear to be restricted to the coralline limestone. Two very large cavities appear to have collapsed in the area:

  1. Gra Gra Mora, the largest and most recent major collapse (reported failure in 1980) affected area of the order of 15, 625 m2. This particular cavern was probably over 50 m deep.
  2. Bouette near Nord Alexis Highshool - much older collapse with no historic record.

Minor debris slumps are also associated with this unit.


Earthquakes are known to occur in the interior of the Grande Anse (near Chambellon), where possible evidence of ground ruptures may be observed. There is one reported case of a felt earthquake affecting the town of Jeremie, in 1980. There is a very low risk of liquefaction because most of the bedrock comprises competent limestone. The highest risk of liquefaction probably occurs in association with the wet sandy soils along Madam Codo, and along the beach at Versailles; the actual risk of liquefaction is even lower because of the low incidence of felt earthquakes to cause ground shaking.

Shoreline Erosion

Shoreline erosion may be related to beach mining in the area west of the mouth of the river. Because of shoreline erosion, revetments have been placed along the shoreline between Versailles and the bridge at Berquier where the main road runs parallel to the shoreline. The maximum elevation of the road at this locality is 3 m above sea level. Erosion in this area is likely to increase as sea level rises.

Groundwater Contamination

Many of those served by municipal water supply live in and close to the town of Jeremie, and some areas of the town are better served than others. For those supplied with piped drinking water the risk of groundwater contamination may arise:

The rest of the population depends on surface waters and rain fed water storage systems; the use of private wells did not seem to be a common practise. Health hazards caused by drinking contaminated water are much more likely to affect the population without piped water. Although the piped water supply is also at risk because of the factors mentioned above, extending the piped water is a valid means of reducing the exposure of the population to the contaminated groundwater, because it is a lower risk. The risk of health problems related to contamination of surface waters (springs, gullies, and rivers) is again a serious issue because it is likely to occur, given sewage disposal problems, and, it can affect a large number of people. Water quality related diseases such as diarrhoea, typhoid and gastro-enteritis accounted for 40% of all morbidity reported in the town of Jeremie, and it is likely that this statistic is very conservative as many people use alternative health care (personal communication, Dr. Ernest Denerville).


There are wrecks of at least five ships in the bay east of the wharf. Amongst these is the Seli (wrecked in 1970?), when many lives were lost as well as cargo. The tragedy of the Neptune, underlies several problems, including:

The likelihood of overcrowding boats may be greater during times of food insecurity or political strife, when destitute people try to escape from the countryside. Bad weather (strong winds and rough seas) coupled with shallow waters (resulting from harbour sedimentation) increase the likelihood of an overloaded ship running aground.


There are number of factors that make fires a high risk in the town:

Devastating fires have been reported in St. Helene in 1984 and 1998.


Twelve volunteers from Jeremie were given 3 days of exhaustive training in the techniques of Rapid Rural Assessment, and surveying using participatory learning techniques. The team was introduced to the concept of a map, and the types of information that could be stored in maps. Having Haitians help refine and administer the survey (rather than consultants with a translator) was critical because:

One of the most useful practical results from the hands-on training exercise was the development of maps indicating 13 different communities in Jeremie. Communities form the basic organisational units of the survey. Although delimitation of these communities was primarily based on the layout of the major roads around which communities have developed, a number of other characteristics make these units discrete and distinguishable to residents of Jeremie:

The 13 zones identified represent geographic areas in the town in which people living there perceive a sense of belonging and outsiders perceive the community. This study has developed a mitigation plan out of the survey of vulnerability characteristics and hazards in the town of Jeremie. Because the CDMP seeks to enter meaningful partnerships with direct stakeholders, it was important that the communities were delimited in a way that was consistent with how these primary stakeholders define their own basic social organisation, rather than obscure official or administrative boundaries. These communities included:

Basse Ville (9) La Source (30) Berquier (9)
Bordes (29) Rochasse (30) Brouette (15)
Caracoli (30) Versailles (29) Gebeau (16)
La Digue (14) St. Helene (28) La Point (28)
Mackandal (29)    

(numbers in brackets represent the number of interviews conducted in each area)

Demographic Characteristics

Our survey indicates an average household size of 6.8 persons per household in Jeremie. Therefore, there are about 5900 households in Jeremie, and our survey probably represents ~5% of all households in Jeremie. Of the 296 individuals randomly chosen by the survey team, ~61% (180) were women. Seventy-three percent (73% or 215) of the total number surveyed were household heads, with women accounting for 56% of this number.

About 30% of all the respondents indicated that they were unemployed. Another 32% indicated that they were "vendors". Seventeen percent (17%) indicated that they were either a farmer or an agricultural worker. Another 17% comprised artisans (masons, blacksmiths, carpenters, tailors, dressmakers, butchers etc.) and professionals (teachers, nurses, lawyers). Approximately 4% of the respondents indicated that they were "workers". Many of the unemployed try to survive by engaging in small commercial activities, so it is therefore hypothesised that in Jeremie "vending" as an occupation is a form of hidden unemployment. More women report themselves to be unemployed than men, although this is probably a false statistic in that housewives who work at home are not really "unemployed". Women dominate the vendor category, whilst men dominate the farmer category. In addition, a higher percentage of men fall into the "other" category that includes artisans, professionals, and workers.

In terms of land tenure, 61% of all respondents indicated that they owned the house in which they lived. The high percentage of house ownership indicates that people do tend to build their own houses in the town, and therefore have a personal stake in the structure in which they live, aside from the possessions contained therein.

The Range of Hazards

Most people (70% of all) feared hurricanes and the effects of strong winds on their homes. Ranking second was fire. The fear of drought was indicated more times than the fear of flooding, although official sources indicate that drought is not a significant problem in this area. This is attributed to the fact that "sechresse" may have been interpreted to mean poor access to safe water. In fact, the World Bank 1999 Development Report estimates that the more than 70% of the Haitian population does not have access to safe water. The vast majority of people in Jeremie (92%) are of the opinion that disasters have become worse over time. People perceive that threats to life have become worst over time, followed by threats to health and property. Fires, strong winds, and epidemics would seem to be the three hazards or threats that have increased most over time.

Impacts of Hazards


The prevention of direct and indirect loss of human life because of natural and technological hazards is the foremost objective of disaster mitigation/vulnerability reduction planning. In the survey, 26 households reported the death at least one member of their household (in their lifetime) that had been caused by a natural or technological hazard. This works out to be 1 in every 11 households in Jeremie has had at least one family member die as a result of the incidents of hazardous events. A total of 33 persons were reported to have died, 5 of which occurred as a result of the 1994 sinking of the Neptune ferry (although between 800 and 2000 people reportedly died in the Neptune incident, very few were actually from the town of Jeremie).

Community Health

The second critical objective of disaster mitigation/vulnerability reduction planning is to reduce human morbidity resulting from hazards. A major factor affecting the vulnerability of communities in Jeremie, and the scale of the disaster is environmental conditions after the occurrence of an event like a hurricane or a flood. Most people (82%) cite "lack of clean drinking water", "prevalence of mosquitoes and flies" (93%), and "prevalence of rats, mice and roaches" (73%) as serious health impacts of disasters. The "disposal of dead animals" is particularly problematic in La Source (30%), Berquier (56%), and Rochasse (33%). These are clear indications for actions or programmes that could be planned and implemented to reduce the magnitude of a disaster that results from a given event. With respect to specific health effects respondents most frequently reported hunger (median 63%), typhoid (median 60%), and diarrhoea (median 24%) as affecting their households after hazards have occurred. The incidence of typhoid and diarrhoea are related to poor access to safe water. Communities in which the vulnerability to these diseases was ranked highly included the two floodplain communities (La Digue and Gebeau). These communities have a more rural character and have less access to safe water. Berquier reported high incidences of trauma, malnutrition, and hunger as affecting them in the aftermath of disasters, which indicate economic vulnerability, as households may be unable to purchase food after the disaster. All three communities in this group occur in a roughly contiguous zone on eastern side of the town, which appears to be the most vulnerable area in terms of community health issues.

La Source, Versailles, Berquier, and Rochasse perceived that they had poorer access to health care than other communities. Access to health care is particularly important, as it can serve to stem the worst effects of an event, and thus limit the magnitude of losses in terms of possibly life lost, human discomfort, as well as person-days and earnings lost due to an inability to work. There are 11 doctors in the town, which gives a ratio of 1 doctor to 3,636 persons. The ratio of hospital beds to population is 1: 439. In the event of a major hurricane or fire affecting the town, the limited supply of health services could result in the disaster being exacerbated.


Berquier appears to have the highest structural vulnerability, reporting the high losses or feared losses in terms of all four aspects considered (roof, walls, floors, and windows/doors). Mackandal, as before, anomalously reported lower feared losses than expected. Residents of Gebeau had the greatest fear for loss of furniture, possibly because of previous experience with flooding. Berquier, La Digue, and Rochasse had the greatest fear of losing access roads - and all occur within floodprone areas. Water supply is less than secure under normal conditions in the La Digue-Gebeau area, hence was ranked highly in this area. The residents of Mackandal do not presently have either good roads or reliable water; hence, they do not consider this a great loss after disasters. Animals represent the major form of saving for many individuals, despite the fact that Jeremie is an urban place. Loss of animals was most frequently reported in La Source (57%), Base Ville (33%), Berquier (44%), Gebeau (63%), La Digue (43%, and Bordes (41%).


The two most frequent effects on livelihood that result from natural hazards are limited access of markets and shortage of fuel (median for both is 67%). The third greatest impact on livelihood is a reduced access to the workplace (55%). A feared loss of access to market (as opposed to feared loss of access to goods) indicates that vendors perceive a threat of getting to market in the event of a disaster. Again, this may indicate problems with access routes between the market place and the communities. More rural peripheral areas such as La Source, Gebeau and Bordes are expected to be in the top six because of agricultural productivity in these areas, or a large number of farmers living there (whose farm plots may be there or further away from the town). Other central communities also expressed a concern (Berquier, Brouette, and St. Helene) with getting to market. Residents of these communities are often farmers and vendors, and many may be recent immigrants from the countryside, come to town for better access to social amenities and economic opportunities. It is likely that there are strong links with the countryside, and many of these vendors are middle men or resellers of produce, and are concerned with getting to market although they may not be involved in primary production. This point is reinforced by the ranking of communities in terms feared loss of access to farms. Again, the peripheral communities of Gebeau, Bordes, and La Source are in the top six, as are central seemingly urban communities like Berquier, Brouette, and Rochasse.

Fears for impacts on communication networks arise from a fear of isolation after a disaster. The same six communities arise (Berquier, St. Helene, Rochasse and Gebeau, La Source and Bordes). This is a good indication that disaster mitigation outreach work will be welcomed in these communities. Attention must also be paid to reduce the vulnerability of communication links between these areas and the town, and to ensure that they are not isolated in the event of a disaster.

Using the ratio of number respondents who grow food to the number of respondents who trade in each area, a "rurality index" was devised. Values greater than 1 indicate the predominance of rural land use over urban land use. Values of 1 possibly indicate mixed zones or rural areas where marketing is also done. Values between 0 and .9 indicate the predominance of urban land activities/land use over rural types. Mackandal, St. Helene, and La Pointe, all which had higher numbers of goats and pigs, are basically urban places where rural activities are done by many. This analysis is important in assessing the relative vulnerability of the populations of each of these areas especially in terms of their ability to earn a livelihood, and in assessing how resilient, these populations might be. Therefore the areas with an index value of greater than 1 (La Digue, Bordes, Gebeau and La Source), and those with 0 (Base Ville, Berquier and Brouette) may be worst hit in the event of a major disaster because of the dependence on either farming or trading of goods.

Coping with Disasters

The reasons people give for their own vulnerability are very important in determining what types of interventions might be most useful and valuable to the survey population. Overwhelmingly, respondents cited the magnitude of the event as the main reason why they were badly affected. Similarly the physical location of the premises, also ranked high. Interestingly, the lack of resources, support and information all ranked as high reasons (in the top 5) why people felt they were affected. In general people tend not to blame the government, neighbors or themselves for how they are affected by disasters. This suggests that awareness campaigns need to emphasize the systemic nature of the natural environment, and the fact that human activities and environmental degradation significantly affect the magnitude of hazards. Among the respondents there was a consensus that the poor people were most affected by natural hazards because they did not have money, good houses, or a general ability to cope. When asked what could be done to reduce their vulnerability answers included:

In response to how they coped with disasters, people gave a range of answers including:

Respondents placed greatest emphasis on recovering from the disaster, as they had a fatalist attitude that there was little or nothing that they could do before and during the disaster to reduce their own loss. Only 8% reported that these measures were successful, and ~5% reported a slight improvement of conditions. The most commonly reported reasons for failure are lack of money (median 78%), lack of necessary materials (33%), and lack of power to decide (21%). Lack of necessary materials was reported to be highest in La Source (40%), Base Ville (56%), Berquier (67%), Versailles (52%), and Caracoli (70%). In Berquier 67% of respondents also reported that they lacked sufficient information on coping techniques or the problem. In Gebeau 38% reported that a problem that they faced is that others do not agree (or support) their proposed measures. People in affected communities, however illiterate or poor, have a reasonable idea about why they are vulnerable to certain disasters, and even what could be done to reduce this vulnerability. Many are willing to offer their own labour to improve conditions and help others. However, it is clear that many are not empowered to undertake the actions to make a difference in their lives. Vulnerability reduction programmes must consider this information and focus on:


People were asked about how they learned of impending hazards. By far the largest proportion of people (77.4%) receive their information about hazards from the radio. The other sources are television (37%), friends, relatives and neighbours (30%), newspaper 28%, and the Red Cross (13%). This suggests that the radio would be the most effective means of alerting people about imminent hazards, as well a means to teach people about basic disaster preparedness.


There are two reason why we included questions about institutional and personal connections in the questionnaire:

  1. both aspects can be used as indicators of resilience because those who have stronger and multiple ties with established organisations have a wider safety or resource network which can assist them to re-establish ‘normal’ living conditions after a disaster (or help them to mitigate and prepare);
  2. answers to the institutional connection question can be used as an indicator for the presence of social capital - if many people are members of a variety of organisations it is more likely that they know how to organise themselves, how they can work together, they would have a more developed sense of operational procedures for effective joint action.

The answers the question "to what organisation do you belong?" suggest that social capital is very weak:

57% of respondents said they belong to the church, 7% to volunteer groups,
5% to the Red Cross, 5% to co-operatives,
3% to social clubs, 3% to the Scouts,
2% to a professional association, and 1% to a community based organisation.

The low level of social capital that these answers suggest, also means that community based actions for disaster mitigation will be relative difficult to organise and implement, without extensive work to develop and establish effective groups.

In terms of personal connections 17% of respondents (on average) have connection outside of Jeremie (mostly in Port-au-Prince and USA). However, in La Digue the proportion is highest (50%). In general communities with fewer linkages outside are more vulnerable because they are less likely to be able to recover without the intervention of a government or nor non-governmental organisation.


Structures & Infrastructure

In terms of building materials for houses, wood is generally regarded to be a weaker material than brick. In general in all areas, more than 62% of the houses are still built of wood. The presence of wooden houses does not necessary indicate greater structural vulnerability than brick structures. In general, many poorer areas like Mackandal, Brouette, and La Pointe have a relatively higher proportion of brick structures. However, brick structures are weak for several reasons:

The use of zinc as a roofing material (as opposed to thatch roofs) was also examined. In general, most houses have zinc roof tops (see aerial photographs). Houses in Gebeau have the highest proportion of thatch roofs (possibly indicating lower income levels). Thatch roofs are more easily affected by strong winds.

Areas with high proportions of outdoor water storage indicate that they are not well supplied by municipal water (either directly piped or from public standpipes). The relatively high proportion of water storage in La Digue, Versailles, and Berquier is interesting because these are contiguous areas on the eastern side of town, and are less likely to have a reliable piped water, La Digue in particular, because of its relative remoteness. Unreliable or lack of piped water and a dependence on rainwater indicate that these communities are particularly vulnerable to the worst effects of drought.

Although Jeremie is an urban centre outdoor toilets are fairly common because there is no sewage collection system nor treatment plant. The relative scarcity of outhouses in the poorest areas of Mackandal, Base Ville, La Source etc. suggests that these communities use the sea and rivers to dispose of sewage rather than undertaking the expense of constructing an outhouse. Field observations confirm that this is likely to be the case in these areas. Diseases spread by faecal contamination of food and water is most likely too occur in these areas, where faecal material may remain at the soil surface, and may be tampered with by foraging animals.

Environmental conditions

The more peripheral "rural" areas of Gebeau, La Digue, and Bordes tended to have more vegetative coverage. Unfortunately these values are still all above 40% bare soil. Rochasse, Caracoli, and Versailles have seemingly conflicting data with low numbers of vegetated plots, but relatively low numbers of bare soil. This could mean a high proportion of paved surfaces, which is mutually exclusive of the two other categories, and was not included in the survey.

There is a relatively high proportion of gullies in the coastal areas of Base Ville, La Pointe, Mackandal, La Source and Versailles, indicating under-designed storm water drains. These areas are particularly vulnerability to flashflooding caused by high volumes of overland flows generated at the higher elevations. The vulnerability here is exacerbated by inadequate storm water disposal capacity, caused by too small drains, blockages by sediment and eroded materials. The present practice of covering drains also precludes effective clearance. The more elevated areas (Bordes, Rochasse, and Caracoli) all have low vegetation cover, and have been flagged for projects to increase the possibility of ground water infiltration

La Digue, Gebeau, and Bordes emerge as areas where rural land uses of animal rearing and agriculture are practised to a greater extent than elsewhere in the city. These areas also represent the stabler populations of Jeremie, with an average of 15 years residence time for respondents in their houses. Both La Pointe and Mackandal (adjacent coastal areas) gave high values for the rearing of pigs and goats. Both of these animal types are foragers and can therefore be reared in an urban environment. Animals may be present in the unplanned high density low income areas such as these because they represent a reasonably cheap supply of protein which can be sold as food, and because they may have been brought by the residents. Many of these are largely recent immigrants to the city (the average number of years spent in Mackandal and La Pointe is 8.3 and 11.4 years respectively). Similarly, the older immigrant population of St. Helene (14.8 years) also rears relatively higher numbers of pigs and goats, but does not grow as much food as the peripheral areas like Gebeau/La Digue and Bordes.


According to the OAS Natural Hazard Primer (1)

"Lifeline networks and critical facilities are those elements in the economic and social infrastructure that provide essential goods and services to the population in towns and villages. Their proper functioning is a direct concern of the community, since disruption affects the entire population" p12-18.

According to the Primer, lifeline networks typically include: roads, bridges, drainage works, water supply, electricity supply, telecommunications, etc. and, critical facilities typically include: hospitals, shelters (schools, churches), police stations and other public buildings that play a vital role in emergencies. This study also includes those facilities which are essential to prevent natural events from escalating into major economic disasters (e.g. lack of credit; closure of banks; disruption of market and trade infrastructure) for Jeremie. These facilities are also used by the entire population and the effects of loss of function tend to be more protracted. The purpose of preparing a critical facilities inventory is to have information required for the co-ordination of activities in the event of a disaster. However, it is important to ensure that these facilities are themselves not vulnerable, and will therefore not suffer a loss of function when they are most needed. Therefore, the vulnerability of critical facilities must be reduced as a top priority. This data should optimally assist the disaster management committee to identify projects that will:

  1. reduce the vulnerability of specifically facilities against hazards, e.g. fixing a roof or access route; this should ensure a certain level of reliability, and reduced likelihood of loss of function, incompetence or failure;
  2. ensure that the necessary level of operation and resources are in place, e.g. lobbying for telephone service to be extended to the facility; and
  3. ensure that the facility can be brought back on line as soon as possible after a disaster, without significant loss of function.

Inventory of Critical Facilities

Critical Facility

++Priority Rating


Drainage along R. Martineau

Level 1

Drainage along Rue D. Hyppolite

Level 1

R. Stenio Vincent-Rue H. Merlet

Level 1

Radio Grande Anse

Level 1

Radio Orbit

Level 1

Route 214

Level 1

Route 220

Level 1

Rue La Source Dommage

Level 1

Rue N. Brouette-Bordes

Level 1

Red Cross

Level 1

Service National d'Eau Potable (SNEP)

Level 2

Airlift service

Level 2

Haitian Health Foundation

Level 2

Health Center

Level 2

Hospital St. Antoine

Level 2

Medicines du Monde

Level 2


Level 2


Level 2

Roman Catholic Church: St. Louis

Level 2

School: Edner Etienne.

Level 2

School: Frere Paulin

Level 2

School: Lycee de Jeune Filles

Level 2

School: Nord Alexis

Level 2

School: Notre Dame de Lourdes

Level 2

School: Petion Laforet

Level 2

School: Sacre Coeur

Level 2

School: St Louis

Level 2

School: St. Joseph

Level 2

Electricite d'Haiti

Level 2


Level 2

Jebo Projet de Rehabilitation Rurale de Jeremie

Level 3

Port Authority

Level 3

Public market

Level 3


Level 3


Level 3

Post Office

Level 3

Haitian Development Foundation

Level 3


*Types Key:




Economic infrastructure


Lifeline Network




Relief Service


Civil infrastructure

++Priority rating. This classification can assist disaster planners in prioritising actions, and committing resources. It is based on a determination of the phase of the disaster cycle in which the facility is most critical. LEVEL 1 = preparedness (during or before event); LEVEL 2 = response and relief and LEVEL 3 = recovery and rehabilitation.

This inventory is not intended to represent the complete list of all critical facilities, but rather the main ones that residents of the town of Jeremie have identified to the consultants. The Jeremie disaster management committee can undertake to develop this database to include more facilities as well as detailed contact information, action plans to upgrade the facilities, as well as to develop the communication and support network. The disaster management roles and responsibilities of each of facilities cannot be taken for granted: relationships and commitments must be actively sought from each of these. In compiling and developing this database, it is recommended that very strict disaster auditing procedures be implemented, in order to determine the performance of each facility after a disaster. This data can inform the process of ensuring the reliability of critical facilities in the event of a disaster.

Sphere of Influence of Jeremie

Although the focus of this study has been primarily on the urban limits of the town of Jeremie, it is important to remember that a disaster affecting Jeremie will affect a much wider area. A random survey (2) of points of origin of 1029 persons in public places in Jeremie (market, shopping street, hospital, law court, school, pharmacy, bookshop, wharf) in order to determine from how far afield people came to use Jeremie, and in what proportion. People come to Jeremie to use the social amenities (schools, hospitals, pharmacies, and courts) as well as to trade. The wharf in Jeremie is also a very important transhipment point in the region for shipping produce and charcoal to Port au Prince; it is also the main entry point for imported goods coming from Port au Prince. Less than half (47.4%) of the people surveyed in these public places were actually Jeremie residents. Of the individuals coming from outside of Jeremie, most (46.6%) came from districts and villages along the main road between Dame Marie and Jeremie, including places like Latiboliere, Marfranc, Abricots etc. Twenty eight percent of the respondents (28%) originated from districts west of the Grande Anse Bridge, including places like Leon, Roseau, Corail and Pestel. The main road between Jeremie and these areas crosses the Grande Anse and traverses over an hilly area known as Chateau. This is also the road that people driving to Port au Prince would take. A quarter of the respondents (25%) came from Fond Rouge, which is a farming district west of the town. The main road to Fond Rouge from Jeremie is the road running through Bordes. A surprisingly small number of visitors actually claimed to have come from Port au Prince (1.3%). People coming from Jeremie could come in one of three ways: plane, ferry, or road. Understanding where people come from is important in determining which are the important linkages/lifelines to the rural communities, which must be brought back online as soon as possible after a disaster. As very little food is produced in Jeremie, these lifelines are also important for Jeremie's recovery.


In developing the projects, several non-mutually exclusive criteria were used. Emphasis was given to interventions that:

The interventions proposed are intended for use by the disaster management stakeholders of Jeremie, and have been compiled based on the situational analysis included in this study.

All project related to one or more of the four main goals of hazard mitigation and vulnerability reduction: prevention of loss of life; reduction of negative impacts on health; reduction of negative impacts on livelihood as well as those on property. Since these are the factors that we ultimately care about, we suggest that they should also be the main criteria guiding the assessment of relative effectiveness and even cost-efficiency. Looking towards implementation, the projects have been prioritised according to the following classes:

Class A: community initiatives
Class B: interventions that require municipal or government involvement
Class C: interventions that involve international donor funding.

Fifty projects are proposed for consideration on the following pages. The following descriptions of the projects do not represent detailed technical proposals, and several of the proposed projects call for further technical input. These recommended activities must be further developed, in keeping with the criteria for the application of small grants established by the Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project, and any other agency from whom funding for implementation is sought.

This document was prepared to aid the work of the Disaster Management Committee, and is intended for use by all disaster management stakeholders in Jeremie. Many of these have been suggested by the residents of affected areas, and others have emerged as a result of the hazards and vulnerability assessment. It is recommended that the following be considered in resource allocation:

Document links: Executive Summary, Sections 1-3, Appendices and Photo Inventory


1.  Primer on Natural Hazard Management in Integrated Regional Development Planning OAS/OFDA-USAID.  1991.

2.  This survey was undertaken by Viana Bien Aime & Mercile Beauporet, both of whom participated in the vulnerability survey who were trained in rapid rural assessment techniques.