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Community Based Landslide Risk Reduction Project: Melbrook Heights

photoMr. Masami Shukunobe (centre) Resident Representative of JICA Jamaica Office, discussing aspects of the MoSSaiC Project with Mr. Ronald Jackson (right) Director General of ODPEM, and Professor Malcolm Anderson (left) Professorial Research Fellow, University of Bristol – June 20, 2012

Communities across Jamaica regularly affected by the adverse impacts of severe weather events, have for decades experimented with and developed practices to cope with these hazards. Regarding landslides specifically, many of these practices have been implemented without a proper understanding of the morphology and hydrology of the environment, which has often led to very costly and ineffective mitigation solutions. As a result landslide prone communities still remain vulnerable to this type of hazard. These often poor communities cannot afford to adequately mitigate the risk and often look to the Government for assistance.

With a view to establish and promote new policies to mitigate against this type of disaster, a new low-cost, community-based approach to landslide risk reduction, MoSSaiC, “Management of Slope Stability in Communities”, was developed in 2003. This approach was founded on the vision that there is often sufficient capacity within Governments to address such landslide issues, without needing to incur significant additional costs by employing non-Government specialist staff. Such expenditure adds to debt and only sub optimally builds within-country capacity. The approach develops a multi sectoral management team, implements a community-based approach to landslide risk reduction, develops low-cost mitigation interventions and builds capacity through community knowledge transfer.

One successful pilot project, undertaken in the Skate Town community, Castries, St. Lucia, West Indies, demonstrates the feasibility of such a low-cost approach to landslide risk reduction and offers a major step forward in establishing appropriate preventative measures for minimizing landslide risk in vulnerable communities.

The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), requested support for piloting this successful approach in Jamaica. The main objectives of the project are:
1. To reduce risks of vulnerable communities to natural disasters
2. To develop/provide evidence based toolkit for vulnerability reduction throughout the Caribbean.

This project is being implemented by ODPEM, and is targeting four (4) communities in Jamaica, over a four (4) year period. The project is financed by a Grant from the Japan Social Development Fund to the amount US$2.37 million and it is administered by the World Bank.

The MoSSaiC methodology was presented to the Melbrook Heights’ Community Residents by the members of the Mitigation, Planning and Research Division of ODPEM, and Malcolm Anderson, Professorial Research Fellow, of the University of Bristol. A draft of the schematic drainage plans was also presented to the community.

Speaking at the Risk Reduction Briefing at Melbrook Heights, St Andrew, Mr. Masami Shukunobe Resident Representative of JICA Jamaica’s Office, noted JICA Jamaica Office’s commitment to disaster management and mitigation in Jamaica, by way of technical cooperation support, training and future dispatch of volunteers to ODPEM, local Parish Councils and other agencies that may be engaged in disaster management and risk reduction.

photoMr. Masami Shukunobe (centre) – Resident Representative of JICA Jamaica Office, addressing residents of Melbrook Heights at the ODPEM Community Briefing on June 20, 2012. The MoSSaiC Project was the beneficiary of Japanese Government’s funding.

photoMr. Ronald Jackson, Director General of ODPEM outlining aspects of the Landslide Risk Reduction Project at ODPEM.

photoMr. Christopher Gayle – Research Analyst, ODPEM making a presentation of the proposed drainage plans for the MoSSaic Project in Melbrook Heights on June 20, 2012. Mr. Gayle was also a beneficiary of JICA’s Long-Term Training Programme in Japan from 2009 to 2011.

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