Mapping for natural disasters and hazards launches

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Monday June 25, 2012 – A tool to enhance decision-making to reduce the serious economic and social impacts caused by natural hazards in the region has been launched by the University of the West Indies (UWI).

The Caribbean Disaster Risk Atlas on Monday has been designed to meet the need for reliable data in the development of comprehensive risk management strategies in the Caribbean, according to a release from the UWI.

UWI Vice Chancellor, Professor Nigel Harris, stated that UWI is very honoured to be at the forefront of this initiative.

“The UWI has once again raised the bar for Caribbean integration. Under the management of the Institute for Sustainable Development (ISD) and the technical expertise of the Seismic Research Centre in St Augustine, and the Mona GeoInformatix Institute, the Caribbean can now benefit from cutting edge technology, providing up-to-date and verified data available for the analysis and management of natural hazards in the region,” commented Harris in the release.

“As the UWI continues to connect the Caribbean, this analytical tool is proof of the structured manner in which the UWI is positioning itself as a premier applied learning institution to be the repository of knowledge to inform policy and planning for growth and development, locally and internationally,” Harris concluded.

This Atlas, the major output of the disaster vulnerability and risk assessment mapping for Jamaica and the wider Caribbean, is funded by the World Bank to the amount of US$510,000 through its Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery.

“Additionally, the regional risk atlas contains spatial data on risk from floods and earthquakes for three Caribbean countries namely: Jamaica, Barbados and Grenada. Another significant feature of the Atlas, is that it will be available free of cost to most users,” said Dr David Smith, co-ordinator of the ISD and principal investigator for the Caribbean Disaster Risk Atlas Project.

Scores of persons from across the Caribbean from the highest levels of the University, risk managers, GIS specialists and planners as well as government officials and the diplomatic community will witness the demonstration of the Atlas publicly for the first time.

The launch of the disaster atlas precedes training on June 27 and 28 in Ocho Rios for experts in the sector. A symposium culminates these activities and will include the presentation of technical papers arising from the two-year investigations that occurred in Jamaica, Grenada and Barbados. Click here to receive free news bulletins via email from Caribbean360. (View sample)