An integrated framework for natural hazard mitigation and development planning in the eastern Caribbean
This thesis examines the political, institutional, and social dimensions of disaster
management in Caribbean States to address the persistent problem of a divergence
between disaster management, environmental management and socio-economic
development. It is well understood that disasters occur due to the interactions
between human and physical factors and that measures to reduce disasters must also
target social and environmental problems. Building on sustainability principles, a
broader view of disasters is adopted in this thesis to include a global systems approach
that links the interactions of earth and human-use social systems. Current natural
disaster research is divided along disciplinary boundaries, and there are few studies
that have adopted a systems approach to explore these interactions.
An interdisciplinary systems-integration model and methodology emerged from the
research and was made operational to identify the enabling mechanisms and
procedures, constraints and limitations to achieving integration of response strategies.
At the core of this research is a framework that conceptualises the linkages and
interactions between physical and human systems in creating vulnerability and natural
disasters. The framework also integrates macro, meso and micro scales to understand
the socio-economic context of natural disasters and development in Caribbean States.
Ethnographic research techniques were utilized to analyse a combination of evidence
from field surveys, documents, interviews, questionnaire surveys and meetings. From
the analysis of revealed and expressed preferences, the thesis concludes that the
hazard and risk perception of decision makers and cultural values held on the
environment are largely responsible for the conundrum. The findings of the study
also point to: lack of policy coordination between key sectors, failure to address the
historical causes of vulnerability, and failure to include social capital in the
development planning process.
In summary the systems-integration model makes an important contribution by
combining perspectives from natural and social sciences to study the co-evolutionary
and dynamic interactions of physical and human systems. The consideration of scale,
context and interactivity led to understandings on the factors that enable and constrain
response to hazards in the environment, and pathways to bridging the divide.
Advances were also made by providing lessons that can be applied to studies on
planning for adaptation to long-tean environmental variability such as climate