Jamaica’s catastrophe scare

An Inter-American Development Bank
(IDB) report on Jamaica’s catastrophe risk profile has revealed that the
country 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, the report said, mostly include
transportation and communication infrastructure such as roads, bridges,
residential commercial and industrial buildings and plants, and public
utilities.

According to the Planning Institute
of Jamaica, the study said the parishes with the highest population density —
St Andrew, St Catherine, Kingston and Clarendon — were more at risk 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.

IDB division chief for rural
development, environment and disaster risk management, Héctor Malarín, said,  “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”.

The IDB has, at the same time,
recommended 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.

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This house in Mt Lebanus in St Thomas was washed away during Hurricane Ivan in 2004 and Hurricane Dennis in 2005.
Photo: Jamaica Gleaner
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