Community-based natural hazard vulnerability assessment in rural Jamaica

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Department of Social Sciences; Department of Geological and Mining Engineering and Sciences


Disasters occur when natural hazards disrupt the livelihoods of a large enough number of vulnerable people such that they require outside assistance. Global, regional, and local influences accumulate into a building pressure of vulnerability that creates disasters when met by a natural hazard. Vulnerability to natural hazards, which incorporates numerous geophysical and social factors, varies by location and community. For Comfort Castle, a rural farming community in the mountains of eastern Jamaica, local vulnerability is connected to place, a history of colonialism and enslavement, and accessibility. To alleviate the building pressure of vulnerability in Comfort Castle, potential mitigation interventions are identified by using the Pressure and Release model to analyse the influence of geographic place. Using ethnography to identify key areas of vulnerability from the community perspective, this study finds that the Rio Grande Valley Road is a critical vulnerability factor and target for mitigation strategies. The road is the only access point to the community and is in poor condition. Geographic information systems (GIS) analyses of the road further estimate the impact of landslide hazards on Comfort Castle. Addressing access limitations would reduce multiple dimensions of vulnerability while also increasing local disaster recovery capacity and improving livelihoods.

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Environmental Hazards