CDB, partners assess impacts of disasters, climate change on livelihoods

Monday, August 19, 2019

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With the 2019 hurricane season underway, researchers are assessing how over 30 communities in Jamaica are affected by disasters and climate change, with specific focus on the impact on earnings.
The research, which is being carried out by representatives of the Community Disaster Risk Reduction Fund (CDRRF), managed by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and Social Development Commission (SDC), is expected to inform interagency planning and development of initiatives ahead of disasters. The data is also expected to provide a reliable basis for immediate post-disaster assessments.
“This research is critical, as it will provide local-level information considered essential to the process of turning awareness of natural hazards and risks faced by communities into actions that will help persons to effectively prepare for and improve their capacity to respond to and recover from disasters. The livelihood baseline will help us to see what needs to be put in place to address this,” said Claudia James, project manager for the CDRRF, which is based at the bank's headquarters in Barbados.
CDRRF is a multi-donor trust fund, managed by CDB, which finances community-based disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation initiatives at the local level across eligible borrowing member countries of the CDB.
Throughout June, the CDRRF and SDC team, with technical support from FAO consultant Dr Maria Protz, completed surveys in Llandewey, Ramble and Trinityville, St Thomas; Jeffrey Town in St Mary; Peckham and four surrounding districts in Clarendon; and Savanna-la-Mar, Westmoreland, using methods from FAO's Livelihood Assessment Toolkit.
Volume two of the toolkit emphasises the importance of determining the ways in which community members earn an income before a disaster, the hazards that are likely to affect them, and some of the coping strategies they use in the face of disasters. It also provides a solid basis for making estimates of the impact of disasters on livelihoods at the community level.
The research comes on the heels of a recent workshop held in Belize which introduced the livelihood toolkit developed by the FAO and the International Labour Organization. The workshop, which focused on Volume 2 of the Toolkit — Livelihood Baseline and Contingency Plans — was organised by the CDRRF and FAO.
SDC staff members involved in the data collection exercise were among a group of 34 regional representatives previously trained at the workshop.
“In the Caribbean, we are quite good at disaster and emergency preparedness to minimise loss of life and damage to homes, schools, hospitals and infrastructure. But we have not invested the same level of concentration on preparedness for the loss of livelihoods. So, our people have much better chances of surviving the immediate impacts of disastrous events, but have challenges getting back to work afterwards. Livelihood contingency plans really don't exist, and as a result, we are often left with 'guestimates'as to what livelihood resources have been lost,” explained Dr Protz.
“Responses can be quicker and more targeted if we know in advance, which households and which persons are more likely to be vulnerable and which livelihoods are most at risk,” she continued.
She said that the livelihood bseline offers a methodology for developing solid “before pictures” of the livelihoods that exist in particular communities, and the resources (human, financial, physical, natural) that are needed to sustain them, and what the costs will be if they are lost.
Following the surveys, the SDC team will compile the 'Draft Livelihood Baseline and Contingency Plan' reports for the communities surveyed. The information will be shared with other national agencies such as Rural Agricultural Development Authority, Planning Institute of Jamaica, and Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management. The interagency network is expected to use the information as evidence to determine what programmes people would need to help them during post-disaster periods.
For SDC, the experience with the Livelihood Assessment Toolkit was a timely and important one. According to Juanita Reid, deputy executive director with responsibility for community research and national development priorities, while her team would have previously completed participatory community research, the current tools introduced under the CDRRF project have expanded their scope to include an assessment of livelihoods and the preparation of community contingency plans.
“It is good for us that we are doing this research using the Livelihood Assessment Toolkit, as many people do not typically highlight the impact of natural hazards on their livelihoods. It is also timely, as we are in the 2019 hurricane season and several of these communities have experienced some climatic change impacts. The data collected will therefore be useful for further planning in the event that they have a disaster in their space,” Reid added.
The survey findings will guide the SDC's five-year strategic plan. The methodology will be incorporated into its community profile development process, which is intended to help improve socio-economic aspects of life in communities across Jamaica.


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