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St. Lucia Commemorated International Day for Disaster Reduction

Image: A depiction of the ruins of Galveston after the passing of the hurricane in 1900. (Credit: Library of Congress)

THE Forests and Lands Resources Division within the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives, through the IWEco project, teamed up with the Commonwealth Alumni Association of St. Lucia to undertake a tree planting exercise in the upper Soufriere watershed as part of a slope stabilization programme.

The event, held on Saturday 13th October, was in commemoration of International Day for Disaster Reduction. Members of the Environmental Club of the Soufriere Comprehensive Secondary School also participated in the exercise.

The International Day for Disaster Reduction was started in 1989, after a call by the United Nations General Assembly for a day to promote a global culture of risk-awareness and disaster reduction.

Held every 13 October, the day celebrates how people and communities around the world are reducing their exposure to disasters and raising awareness about the importance of reining in the risks that they face.

Coincidentally this day falls a few days before the anniversary of Hurricane Thomas which hit St. Lucia on October 29th 2010 and caused colossal damage to the island with Fond St. Jacques, in Soufriere, being the hardest hit area.

IWEco which means Integrating, Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States, is a regional initiative funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and implemented by the United Nations Environmental Programme (UN Environment).

The project will apply a “Ridge to Reef” approach in addressing the multiple challenges of sustainable water, land (including forests) and biodiversity management and conservation within the spatial framework of the watershed unit.

On a local level IWEco, which is being executed by the Forests and Lands Resources Division within the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, Physical Planning, Natural Resources and Cooperatives, aims to mitigate the poor biophysical conditions (due to unsustainable land management practices) in the Soufriere Watershed, which have impacted sustainable livelihoods of the population.

Initiatives expected to be funded include land restoration work, creation of alternative sustainable livelihoods, capacity building and increasing awareness.

The St. Lucia Chapter of the Commonwealth Alumni Association is made up of scholarship recipients who volunteer their time towards community services and organise a range of local events and activities which encourage networking and ongoing professional development.

During the tree planting exercise over 100 trees were planted on the slopes in the upper Soufriere watershed.

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