Loss from disasters high for Jamaica

WASHINGTON, United States, Tuesday August 31, 2010 – An Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) report has revealed that Jamaica is at risk of average annual losses of US$105 million due to hurricanes and US$30 million from earthquakes.

The study estimates the current exposure value of physical assets to earthquakes and hurricanes at approximately US$19 billion. These assets mostly include transportation and communication infrastructure such as roads, bridges; residential commercial and industrial buildings and plants; and public utilities among others. 

The findings from the report were released at a two-day workshop on Disaster Risk Indicators hosted by the Planning Institute of Jamaica and the IDB. The report is part of a study on country risk evaluation completed by the IDB for Bolivia, Guatemala, Jamaica and Peru.

The study further outlined that four parishes with the highest population density are more at risk—St Andrew, St Catherine, Kingston and Clarendon respectively—from hurricane hazards. According to the report, Jamaica is located in a high seismic and hurricane hazard zone with potential to be impacted by great destructive events. 

Division Chief, Rural Development, Environment and Disaster Risk Management, IDB, Mr Héctor Malarín who made a presentation at the workshop said that “the figures will allow the government to make decisions regarding what is the best way to cope and reduce those expected losses that we have calculated.”

IDB recommends that a more pro-active stance should be taken to disaster risk management and reduction; a comprehensive approach to include risk analysis, prevention and mitigation, financial protection and risk transfer, rehabilitation and reconstruction, and that emphasis should be placed on pre-disaster assistance.

The workshop presented the results of a country risk evaluation of Jamaica to over 30 public and private sector representatives. It was intended to enhance knowledge and awareness of country disaster risk and to facilitate sector dialogue with the Government of Jamaica on disaster risk management prioritisation and to explore opportunities for IDB support.