OECS and CCRIF SPC strengthen disaster resilience in at-risk communities

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CASTRIES, St Lucia — As the rainy season approaches, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission and the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF SPC) continue efforts to strengthen resilience in at-risk communities through flood mitigation initiatives and disaster prevention sensitisation at the community level.

The latest project, a riverbank stabilisation and reforestation initiative along the Fond/Malgretoute River, seeks to reduce flooding in the community of Malgretoute, in Micoud, Saint Lucia.

Major flooding events over the past twenty years, the most recent being the Christmas Trough of 2013, have destabilised the slopes along the river bank resulting in extensive silt runoff into the river with each rainfall event.

Chairman of the People Empowering People (PEP) community organisation, Abraham George, noted the timeliness of the project as the community prepares for an unpredictable hurricane season and thanked the OECS Commission and CCRIF SPC for the much-needed support.

“When it floods it undermines the bridge, the infrastructure that connects the north to the south, which is quite important. The community is virtually marooned because there is one way in and one way out.

“When the flood water comes in, community members have to run for shelter in the higher area and they cannot get out of Malgretoute,” George said.

He also stressed the importance of the community’s involvement in the project as this encourages a sense of ownership and a better understanding of disaster prevention and best farming practices.

“It is all about empowerment and getting down to the grassroots, the core of the problem. From the bottom, you have the persons who are affected, they are integrally involved, they own the programmes and they see the importance.

“What we are trying to address now are some of the spinoffs from the banana industry where you had indiscriminate planting of bananas and the felling of trees. We are now trying to replant and do all that we can, because it is our community that is at risk when the flood waters come down,” George added.

The main goal of the Malgretoute riverbank stabilisation and reforestation initiative is to replant at least half of the deforested areas along the Malgretoute/Fond water shed and implement measures to stabilise the river banks.

Work in the area is expected to continue for approximately 18 months and the project will engage members of the Malgretoute community both in the performance of project activities and in the transfer of knowledge, especially to farmers, to better maintain the watershed and riverbank.

The project is estimated at US$34,100.

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