Caribbean Nations Come Together to Plot Strategies for Dealing with Seismic Threats

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, 16 January 2017 – Seven years on from the devastating earthquake in Haiti, countries from across the Caribbean are working hard to reduce the risks posed by seismic threats, as part of their wider drive towards sustainable development.

The magnitude-7.0 quake on Jan. 12, 2010, claimed around 150,000 lives and affected over three million people.

Earthquakes are the single-most destructive form of natural hazard in the Caribbean. Many countries within the region face the specter of future quakes, which occur when strain accumulation on segments of the adjacent tectonic plate boundary exceeds the breaking point. To a large extent, the resulting damage will depend on the choice of risk-management measures – notably building standards – that are implemented to avoid or reduce vulnerability to strong shaking.

Efforts to improve such risk management have gathered speed over recent months. More than 150 participants from around the region met at the Caribbean Urban Seismic Risk Forum in Haiti’s capital of Port-au-Prince in September 2016.

The forum provided an opportunity for Caribbean countries to chart a path to sustainable development through the exchange of experiences, information sharing and the joint development of the “Regional Roadmap on Urban Seismic Risk Management in the Caribbean.”

“It provides the basis for the kind of concerted action that is needed by a wide range of stakeholders in the region,” said Dr. Richard Robertson, director of the Seismic Research Centre of the University of the West Indies, whose institution was part of the team that crafted the Roadmap. “In any Caribbean island, a much larger proportion of the buildings and infrastructure were likely built before effective seismic codes were implemented and less than 2 percent of this stock is replaced per year. For this reason, the threat of damage to any one nation is potentially catastrophic.” Read more

Source: Atlanta Black Star