Damage left by the passage of a trough system in 2016. (IWN photo)

The Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR) says that St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is the second most disaster-prone country in the world, by population.

The GFDRR also states that SVG is the fifth most disaster-prone country in the world by land size and because of this, Kedahli Crichton, a physical planning officer at the Physical Planning Unit, says that projects like the European Union (EU) funded “ILAND RESILIENCE” initiative are very important to small island developing states (SIDS) like SVG.

ILAND RESILIENCE is the name of the Organisation of the Eastern Caribbean States’ (OECS) brand associated with the OECS-managed Global Climate Change Alliance (GCCA) project. The GCCA’s shared portfolio of climate change adaptation and sustainable land management is being implemented in SVG, through the Ministry of Housing and the Ministry of Economic Planning.

This project focuses on sustainable development in SIDS through sustainable land management towards climate change adaption and seeks to, among other things, help locals mitigate against the threats that come with climate change, and create awareness.

“We have a long history of being impacted by climatic anomalies and we also have a great deal of people living under threat given our particular development scenario where we are all on the coast,” Crichton said.

GFDRR statistics show that 41.2 per cent of Vincentians are at risk from two or more climatic hazards and, according to Crichton, if you turn that the other way, it means that 58.8 per cent of Vincentians are at risk of facing two or less hazards.

“We are definitely disaster prone,” said Crichton, who noted that the GCCA project is just one vehicle through which policy decisions are being made to address climate change mitigation and how SVG and other OECS countries can see “our way out of suffering the full effects of climatic hazards”.

Crichton said that the floods that have taken place locally have captured a lot of media attention, but climatic variability has also caused droughts as well, which have impacted the agricultural sector, among other facets of Vincentian life.

“It is something that we at the Physical Planning Unit and the Ministry of Agriculture are paying close attention to and the GCCA project seeks to build awareness and institutional capacity and create actual physical mitigation measures,” Crichton said. Under physical adaptation measures of the GCCA project, the Ministry of Agriculture, through the Forestry Division, has secured a consultancy for the extension of the Cumberland/Perseverance Watershed Management Plan.

This plan seeks to, among other things, ensure the sustainability of the ecosystem services and the related livelihoods, such as tours etc.

“Institutional strengthening has been done as well,” Crichton said, adding that the GCCA project has trained persons on Geographic Information System (GIS) mapping, which allows one to visualise, question, analyse and interpret data to understand relationships, patterns and trends and present geographic data.