Caribbean Multi-Hazards Resilient Construction Strategy

          The main challenge in achieving resiliency against the impacts of natural hazards (hurricane, floods, tsunami, earthquakes, volcanoes) in the built environment (mainly housing), particularly within a vulnerability risk reduction context and as related to the ultimate goal of strengthening communities’ long-term socio-economic sustainability, is to come up with a comprehensive and operational framework capable of rallying and integrating all the actors and stakeholders of that sector around the common goal of achieving long-term resiliency in that sector, while taking into account the relative interests of each participating group.

      For the Construction sector, those actors and stakeholders with whom that sustainable framework needs to be established are the following:

        • Homeowners (including government subsidized low-income housing): take loans for building their homes, and insurances to protect their assets against natural hazards related damages;

        • Mortgage Banks: finance the homeowners’ construction through property loans - and supervise construction stages – in general – as means for loan disbursements issuance authorizations (quantitative control – in general)

        • Insurance and re-insurance Agencies: provide insurance coverage for buildings – sometimes available at home construction stage;

        • Governmental Building Control Agency(ies): inspect and supervise housing construction – from construction permit application to occupancy - so that to ensure adherence to the country’s building codes and standards;

        • Building Professionals and Associations: architects, engineers, contractors, draftsmen, plumbers - contracted by homeowners, they get involved at different levels in the construction - from the construction plan submission to completion (occupancy); and

        • Construction Materials Providers: determine construction material availability (quality and quantity) – along with the market forces and government standards - in which the sector is embedded as resulting from offer and demand for construction materials ;

        • Government Customs Offices: determines the quality of the construction materials entering the local market through applying and enforcing government’s standards associated with building materials.

        The effectiveness of the legal framework and the construction practices prevailing in a country’s building sector fundamentally determine the nature of the synergy existing amongst all the entities involved in that sector, which in turn, directly affect the level of resiliency of the built environment (all things being equal). In that regard, achieving hazard resiliency in home construction appears to be more a public administration/ management issue, than being solely a structural engineering/ technical one, assuming that knowledge of multi-hazards resilient designs and techniques are mastered by the building professionals.