PGDM Hazard Mitigation Planning Page

The Post-Georges Disaster Mitigation (PGDM) is supporting the countries of Antigua/Barbuda and St. Kitts/Nevis in the development of comprehensive hazard mitigation policies and plans. This activity will serve as a framework for many of the other project objectives and activities.

To be effective, hazard vulnerability reduction activities must be designed and implemented in an integrated development framework. Hazard mitigation planning can provide this necessary framework for hazard risk reduction. It is a comprehensive approach to understanding both the character and effects of hazards on a region and the context for responding to those hazards. Hazard mitigation planning can encompass a wide range of hazards and involve representatives of a broad spectrum of disciplines and interests. To support the practice of mitigation planning in the Caribbean region, a hazard mitigation planning methodology was developed under the USAID/OAS Caribbean Disaster Mitigation Project (CDMP). This approach is described in the document Planning to Mitigate the Impacts of Natural Hazards in the Caribbean. Steps in this approach include (see diagram for another perspective):

Under the PGDM, the Governments of both Antigua/Barbuda and St. Kitts/Nevis undertook a comprehensive hazard mitigation planning process, based on this approach. The project supported the work of both governments through the provision of expert assistance in the fields of hazard mapping and assessment, mitigation planning, geographic information systems and policy/plan development.

To begin this activity, PGDM sponsored national-level  hazard mitigation introductory workshops in Antigua/Barbuda and St. Kitts/Nevis. The goals of this workshop were to:

The following reports and documents describe the results of these introductory workshops:

Natural Hazard Assessment and Mapping

Studies that assess natural hazards provide information on the probable location and severity of dangerous natural phenomena and the likelihood of their occurrence within a specific time period in a given area. These studies rely heavily on available scientific information, including geologic, geomorphic, and soil maps; climate and hydrological data; and topographic maps, aerial photographs, and satellite imagery. Historical information, both written reports and oral accounts from long-term residents, also helps characterize potential hazardous events. Ideally, a natural hazard assessment promotes an awareness of the issue in a developing region, evaluates the threat of natural hazards, identifies the additional information needed for a definitive evaluation, and recommends appropriate means of obtaining it.

During the third quarter of 2000, PGDM conducted Hazard Mapping/Vulnerability Assessment Prioritization workshops in both Antigua/Barbuda and St. Kitts/Nevis. The goal of these workshops was to identify gaps in existing hazard mapping information and specific needs for hazard mitigation activities to be undertaken under the PGDM. A formal prioritization exercise was conducted during these workshops to identify the most appropriate uses of PGDM hazard mapping funds for filling identified gaps and needs. As part of this activity, terms of reference were developed for the  hazard mapping/vulnerability assessment activities selected to be funded by the project. Further information on these workshops is available through the workshop reports:  Antigua/Barbuda Workshop Final Report | St. Kitts/Nevis Workshop Final Report.

Based on the results of the prioritization workshops, the PGDM undertook hazard assessments of beach erosion; drought; inland flooding; inland erosion; tropical storm-related surge, wind and waves; and volcanic hazards. The reports, data and maps resulting from these assessments are available on the PGDM Hazard Mapping page and the PGDM GIS data page.

Vulnerability Assessment

Vulnerability assessments estimate the degree of loss or damage that would result from the occurrence of a natural phenomenon of given severity. Vulnerability can be estimated for selected geographic areas, e.g., areas with the greatest development potential or already developed areas in hazardous zones. The techniques employed include lifeline (or critical facilities) mapping and sectoral vulnerability analyses for sectors such as energy, transport, agriculture, tourism, and housing. The vulnerability assessments undertaken under the PGDM focused on critical governmental facilities and infrastructure.

In Antigua/Barbuda, maps describing the hazards from each of the PGDM hazard assessments were incorporated into the national geographic information system (GIS)  database, housed at the Development Control Authority, with the assistance of a PGDM consultant. A team, led by the National Office of Disaster Services, inventoried and mapped over 250 facilities for use in the PGDM vulnerability assessment. Using the hazard GIS layers, an assessment of the mapped facilities was undertaken to identify those that are at the highest risk to the mapped natural hazards. [Antigua/Barbuda Hazard Vulnerability Assessment results.]

In St. Kitts/Nevis, the geographic information system (GIS) capacity of both the Government of St. Kitts/Nevis and the Nevis Island Administration was expanded under the project, through the digitization of basemap information, inventory and mapping of critical facilities and the incorporation of summary hazard layers from each of the PGDM hazard assessments into the national GIS databases in St. Kitts and Nevis.

To assess the vulnerability of critical facilities to natural hazards, the priority categories of facilities were identified and mapped. These categories included any facilities that functioned as a shelter; hospitals and clinics; government administrative buildings; airports and sea ports; power, water and telecommunication installations; oil and gas companies; protective services and the road network. Using the hazard GIS layers, those facilities that are at the highest risk to each of the mapped natural hazards were identified. The results of this vulnerability assessment were presented to the national mitigation committee at public meetings in July 2001. [St. Kitts/Nevis Hazard Vulnerability Assessment results.]

Concurrent with the PGDM, the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment of the Organization of American States (OAS/USDE) and the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Coastal Services Center (NOAA/CSC) have been collecting and disseminating information on vulnerability assessment tools and techniques currently in use throughout the hemisphere. As part of this work, two workshops on Vulnerability Assessment Techniques and Applications have been held at the NOAA/CSC. PGDM sponsored the participation of representatives from both project countries at the first workshop, held in March 2000. The PGDM vulnerability assessment work in Antigua/Barbuda and St. Kitts/Nevis was presented at the second workshop in August 2001.

A review of the PGDM hazard and vulnerability assessment activities is contained in the Training in Hazard and Vulnerability Assessment Final Report.

Capability Assessment

A capability assessment reviews the ability of a government, individual or company to address hazards. Such an assessment should review technical ability, financial resources, legal and institutional frameworks and political will. A capability assessment can reveal gaps in existing capability for hazard response and development control, as well as take credit for currently functioning mitigation activities. This assessment can help identify policy and structural changes that must be made to institutionalize mitigation. Some mitigation options may be eliminated from consideration due to barriers to implementation identified during the capability assessment. Results of the Antigua/Barbuda and St. Kitts/Nevis capability assessments are included in the final draft hazard mitigation policies and plans. [Capability Assessment Form (Word 42k)]

Plan Development

Draft Natural Hazard Mitigation Policies and Plans were completed in both Antigua/Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis during the summer 2001. As the culmination of the mitigation planning process, these documents include information collected in all steps in this process, including a disaster history, the legal framework for disaster mitigation, the capability assessment, mitigation opportunity analysis and the hazard and vulnerability assessments. The centerpieces of these documents, however, are the goals, objectives and proposed actions and programs to reduce the existing and future vulnerability to natural hazards.

These documents were officially handed over to the Governments at the final project closing ceremonies, held on 26 July in Antigua and on 14 August in St. Kitts.

Other Resources

USAID/OAS Post-Georges Disaster Mitigation:

Page last updated on 03 Oct 2001