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College of Arts & Sciences
Hazards & Vulnerability Research Institute


A Multiple Hazards Assessment of Two Caribbean Nations: Barbados and St. Vincent

Bryan Jeffery Boruff

Advisor: Dr. Susan L. Cutter

 

ABSTRACT

Over the past several decades, increasing loss from extreme natural events has raised concerns in the Caribbean, however to save lives and thwart economic catastrophe the most vulnerable populations must first be identified.  Using the Vulnerability of Place Model (VPM) as a theoretical framework, the spatial distribution of vulnerability within and between two Caribbean nations, Barbados and St. Vincent was studied.  To examine the ability of the VPM to measure the distribution of inter and intra-island vulnerability the following questions were addressed:

  1. What are the specific characteristics of St. Vincent and Barbados residents contributing to their natural hazards vulnerability?
  2. Does the creation of an index of vulnerability (PVI) permit a comparative assessment from one place to another using standardized indicators?

Using standardized data for each island a method for measuring the spatial extent of vulnerability was developed as well as a method for comparing the vulnerability of each island.  Additionally, methods for determining the number of residents susceptible to the effects of specific hazards as well as the number of residents in the most vulnerable locations was developed.   Results indicate that on Barbados the largest percentage of residents are susceptible to fire while on St. Vincent landslide susceptibility threatens the greatest percentage of persons.  Additionally, Barbados has a much larger percentage of residents living in moderately to highly vulnerable locations, most heavily influenced by physical factors.  On St. Vincent relatively fewer residents live in moderately to highly vulnerable locations, and the primary determinant of this vulnerability is social characteristics.  While providing important information for emergency managers and planners on Barbados and St. Vincent, this research provided the framework for the measurement and comparison of natural hazards vulnerability across multiple scales.