Introduction 

The Caribbean region is highly impacted by natural hazards (See Figure). In the last two decades the region suffered over 5 billion US$ losses from natural disasters. Its location within the path of the Atlantic hurricanes exposes the small island states and countries in the Caribbean to extreme wind conditions and torrential rains. This, in combination with steep terrain makes them extremely susceptible for landslides, floods and storm surges. Their location along the edges of tectonic plates adds tectonic hazards to their threats as well, including earthquakes and tsunamis for the whole region as well as active volcanism on some islands. On a longer time scale, sea level rise is expected to make the hazard situation worse for the coastal areas.The Caribbean region is highly impacted by natural hazards (See Figure ). In the last two decades the region suffered over 5 billion US$ losses from natural disasters. Its location within the path of the Atlantic hurricanes exposes the small island states and countries in the Caribbean to extreme wind conditions and torrential rains. This, in combination with steep terrain makes them extremely susceptible for landslides, floods and storm surges. Their location along the edges of tectonic plates adds tectonic hazards to their threats as well, including earthquakes and tsunamis for the whole region as well as active volcanism on some islands. On a longer time scale, sea level rise is expected to make the hazard situation worse for the coastal areas.

The small island states and countries in the Caribbean - especially those of volcanic origin with rugged and steep terrain - have limited suitable surface area for development and agricultural production. Most of the population live along the coast and most economic activities are concentrated. These areas are affected by floods (flash floods, drainage floods and coastal floods) and disrupt the socio-economic systems. Vital infrastructure that traverses the mountainous areas can be severely damaged by landslides, thereby isolating parts of the islands and disrupting the distribution of goods (and relief). Because of their size there is very little robustness in the system to deal with these impacts. As a consequence these events have a severe impact on the relatively small economy of these countries.

The national governments have limited human and financial resources to cope with these hazards and generally lack the expertise for hazard and risk assessment in their territory. This is aggrevated by the lack of geospatial data that is needed to carry out these analyses. As a consequence new development activities are often carried out with limited considerations to these hazards. It also hampers the authorities in developing pro-active hazard mitigation plans, such as early warning systems, preparedness planning and risk-reduction strategies.

 

The CHARIM project 

In 2014 the World Bank initiated the Caribbean Risk Information Program with a grant from the ACP-EU Natural Disaster Risk Reduction Program.  A consortium led by the Faculty ITC of the University of Twente is responsible for conducting capacity-building workshops, generating training materials, and creating hazard maps to expand the capabilities within participating infrastructure and spatial planning ministries to use hazard and risk information for decision-making. 

The main objective of this project is to build capacity of government clients in the Caribbean region, and specifically in the countries of Belize, Dominica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada, to generate landslide and flood hazards and risks information and apply this in disaster risk reduction use cases focusing on planning and infrastructure (i.e. health, education, transport and government buildings) through the development of a handbook and, hazard maps, use cases, and data management strategy

The following sub-objectives are defined:

1. To make an inventory of the needs of each target country in terms of their capacity for spatial data collection, analysis and management, (landslide and flood) hazard and risk assessment, and integrate this information in spatial development planning and risk reduction planning.

This was analysed during a series of workshops in the target countries in May/June 2014, and again during a regional workshop in October 2014. Detailed workshop reports were produced, which are available here. This document contains the report of the workshops that were carried out in the period May and June 2014 in the 5 target countries of the CHARIM project.  The involvement of the stakeholders from the 5 target countries (Dominica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada and Belize) is considered very important for the development of the Caribbean Handbook for Risk Information Management (CHARIM). Initially at the start of the project only one workshop was foreseen where participants from the 5 countries would come together in one location in order to discuss the project objectives, the data situation in their countries, the possible use-cases and plan the follow-up work. On the request of the consortium led by ITC a request was made to change this into separate visits to each of the 5 countries, which has the following benefits:

  • It allows to get to know many more people in each of the countries, as we can organize a workshop per country where all interested staff from the ministries of Physical Planning and Public Works can participate, leading to lower costs, and better understanding of the local situation;
  • Visiting the countries separately will allow the project team and the WB team to get a much better idea of the local situation and visit the potential use case areas during a fieldwork.

2. To make an inventory of the tools available worldwide in terms of technical training manuals linked with practical applications and in terms of methodologies applied for flood and landslide hazard and risk assessment at different scales, as well as open source modelling tools for these hazard types.

In order to the objectives 1, 2, and 3 a detailed literature study will be carried out, as well as interviews with local representatives of the target countries, contacts with International Organizations that have been involved in previous studies (e.g. World Bank, OAS, IDB, CDB, UNDP, CDEMA etc.) and international experts that have carried out work in the target countries related to landslide and flood hazard and risk assessment (e.g. J. De Graff, M.G. Anderson, C.T. Rogers, P.E. Quinn, E. Castellanos etc.) The outcome was a preliminary assessment report, which contains:

  • a summary of the current situation in terms of data available, hazard and risk mapping initiatives, and organizations involved in the target countries;
  • Literature review of similar guidelines and lessons learnt that are relevant for the handbook
  • A proposal for the handbook design process to follow, and
  • A proposed table of content of the handbook, including brief summaries for each chapter and section

3. To develop a theoretical framework for landslide and flood hazards and risks assessments, based on the review of existing quantitative and qualitative assessment methods and their appropriate use.

This report forms the basis of a technical discussion on the methodological framework as proposed for the methodology book, the national level hazard maps and the use case structure based on one example use case.

The objective of the discussion is to make sure that the suggested methodologies are adequate and tailored  for the Caribbean region, all relevant methodological details for the national hazard maps are provided, and the structure, presentation and level of detail of the use cases is suitable.

In this report we describe the methodologies we propose for the assessment of flood and landslide hazard in the Caribbean region. The primary focus in this report is on the national scale hazard assessment. For the other scales the role of the use cases will be very important as they will guide the user of the handbook through the first steps of selecting the appropriate method to solve a given problem at a certain scale and given constraints. This process will be further elaborated in the Methodology part of the Handbook where we foresee a section that provides more detail on the different methodologies and their appropriate application.

The theoretical framework for landslide and flood hazard assessment can also be found in the methodology book

  

 

4. To develop nine national hazard mapping studies in the five target countries. One in Belize related to floods and two on each island for landslides and floods.

These hazard mapping studies consist of hazard maps and accompanying reports. Download the maps and reports for:

  

 5. To develop a handbook to support the generation and application of landslide and flood hazard and risk information.

The handbook is this web-platform. The handbook for the assessment of landslide and flood hazards and risk will support the generation and application of hazard and risk information in planning and infrastructure design. By using the book the governments of the five participating governments will have an improved understanding of the fundamentals of hazard and risk. This book provides an overview of existing methods, both quantitative and qualitative that can be applied for the assessment of landslide and flood hazards and risk, and how risk maps can be used in disaster risk management. The book is intended to show engineers, planners and spatial analyst how they should include the relevant flood and hazard related data requirements, analysis methods and shareable and standardized output data in the writing of Terms of Reference for projects involving external consultants. The Handbook will discuss the appropriateness of applying a certain method for a given problem in terms of data needs, scale (resolution), uncertainty, required expertise and the physiographic setting. It will describe in detail nine national hazard mapping studies. The handbook will also link to internet resources that provide data and Meta data, analyzes tools and their manuals, and results of other studies and scientific papers. This will be a theoretical handbook with links to specific examples from the target countries, and the data available for these. 

6. To develop a number of use cases of the application of hazard and risk information to inform projects and program of planning and infrastructure sectors. The methodology provides the overall framework for the use cases. 

 

The Use Case Book is the central component of the Caribbean Handbook for Risk Information Management (CHARIM). The use case book contains a number of example applications of tasks of spatial planners, Engineers and Geo-Information specialist within the Caribbean countries that requires natural hazard and risk information.  The use cases are related to general examples that illustrate the methodological process needed to conduct a range of activities that are common in the region, rather than detailed efforts to produce specific recommendations for action in specific applications.The use cases have been identified by a collaborative process with participating government ministries and other regional technical experts, during the workshops in the five target countries.  The use cases indicate the requirements in terms of basic information depending on the scale of the work and the objectives of the use case.

 

  

7. To make the handbook, data and methodology available through a pdf document and through a web-based platform, consisting of web-based databases, and a Decision Support system set-up for risk reduction planning

 

 

8. To provide training courses based on the materials and the handbook, that is made available to the entire region through a web-based platform and distance education course 

The  second workshop was a good moment to bring all the key experts from the five target countries together with the following objectives:

  • To present a general assessment of the current practices in the target countries regarding hazard and risk assessment and its use in planning and engineering;
  • To present the first outline of the handbook in the form of an extended table of contents with a synopsis of the use cases, the methodology book chapters and the data management book structure.
  • To provide training to the countries -  experts on hazard and risk assessment in general and on the handbook in particular;
  • To collect feedback on the achievements so far, and
  • To prepare for (field) data collection activities on the four island countries with support from the local and national authorities.

 

9. To develop a Medium-term plan to overcome spatial data gaps and quality 

The aim of this medium term plan is to outline the possible directions to overcome the gaps in the available data for the five target countries Belize, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Grenada. 

We describe in this report the general data situation in each country, and then discuss the data layers that have been collected in the framework of the CHARIM project. We then discuss the remaining data gaps, followed by the proposed activities to address these data gaps. 

With the exception of Grenada, all countries have a working GeoNode, which have been established with World Bank support. In nearly all cases, all data layers seem to have been uploaded at the same time, and there are a limited number of users. It is not clear how often the GeoNodes are used, and how much they serve the purpose of data sharing. One would expect that certain data layers would be updated regularly, or that data layers would be uploaded by different contact persons from different organizations. However, this doesn- t seem to be the case. It is of course possible that most of the data layers and data sharing is done by password protection, so the activity is not clear when accessing it without a login.  In Dominica, the GeoNode (Dominode) seems to have had a certain function in data sharing after the tropical storm Erika in 2015. It also has the largest number of registered users, many of those might be related to emergency response staff. This shows that the Geonodes might be useful in emergency situations and for consultants from outside the countries, but that they do not seem to serve the intended purpose for the staff members of various departments that have the mandate to produce, manage and share spatial data. 

In each of the target countries a number of World Bank funded/coordinated activities related to spatial data management are currently being planned or executed that are closely related to the activities of the CHARIM project. It is therefore fortunate that most of the data gaps that are described in this report are identified and that project proposals are made to address those gaps in the various countries. 

We are happy that the CHARIM handbook site and the CHARIM GeoNode were transferred to the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA). They are working on a regional level and have the possibility to integrate these tools for the benefit of more countries than the five addressed in this project. 

 

 

Master of Science Reports related to CHARIM

 

Within the Charim project the following Master of Science students of the MSc course on Geo-Information Science and Earth Observation, specialization Natural Hazards, Risk and Engineering of the Faculty ITC, University of Twente: 

(Click on the title to download the MSc thesis in pdf)