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Better Data Management for Improved Disaster Risk Management in the Caribbean

Haiti Flood Likelihood Data Overlaid with the Legend - Generated from
An example of the areas likely to suffer flood damage. This map was generated from and represents the ease of access to critical information for analysis and modelling.

November 16, 2011

To build more resilient communities and economies, policy-makers and the public must have access to climatological and hydrological data to make informed decisions about long-term economic planning.

The challenges and opportunities of sharing geospatial data in the Eastern Caribbean was the topic of a recent workshop on data management. This event was organized by the Government of Grenada and co-financed by the Climate Investment Fund (CIF) and the World Bank, with technical support from the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery (GFDRR). The event was held in St Georges, Grenada, and was attended by representatives from eight countries and seven regional bodies including some of the key players in the Caribbean’s Disaster Risk Management area.

Presentations focused on open-source data sharing platforms such as GeoNode, which was discussed through the OpenDRI (Open Data for Resilience Initiative) from GFDRR Labs.

Informing better decisions

Haitidata is an example of OpenDRI in action. Practitioners use this tool to create risk maps on floods, landslides, and seismicity to inform decision-making and prepare communities to promote resilient societies/economies.   

To build resilient economies, policy-makers and the public must have access to the right data and information to inform good decisions - such as where and how to build safer schools, how to insure farmers against drought, and how to protect coastal communities against future climate impacts. Sharing data and creating open systems promotes transparency, accountability, and provides a forum for a wide range of actors to participate in the challenge of building resilience.

GeoNode, an open-source platform that facilitates the creation, sharing, and collaborative use of geospatial data, is being used by OpenDRI in many countries to help disaster risk management experts understand a country’s risk to disasters and share this information with other experts worldwide. The Open Data for Resilience Initiative (OpenDRI) aims to reduce the impact of disasters by empowering decisions-makers with better information and the tools to support their decisions.

Natural Hazards
Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters, the Economics of Effective Prevention - Read Online 
OpenDRI implements the first policy recommendation of the joint World Bank / UN flagship report, “Natural Hazards, UnNatural Disasters, the Economics of Effective Prevention,” which establishes the importance of data sharing to reduce vulnerability to disasters. OpenDRI also builds upon the World Bank’s broader Open Data Initiative. OpenDRI is currently implementing these ideas in 25 countries around the world to improve disaster and climate change resilience.

Building Resilience with Better Data in the Caribbean 

An example of OpenDRI in action is The site was developed to share disaster risk data created after the devastating earthquake that hit the country, killing more than 220,000 people. Since then, practitioners have been utilizing the tool to create risk maps featuring floods, landslides, seismicity, etc. to help inform decision-making and prepare communities to promote resilient societies/economies.

Currently, there are GeoNode users in dozens of countries around the world, and the community is growing rapidly. One of the exciting and powerful aspects of using the GeoNode software allows the user to “drilldown” from the global level to the district level – subsequently building global and local preparedness and prevention, ultimately reducing vulnerabilities to the risk of natural disasters.

GFDRR has begun working with five governments in the Eastern Caribbean. The work includes the installation of four GeoNodes in Saint Lucia, Grenada, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and at the University of West Indies in Trinidad and Tobago. There is also a GeoNode in Haiti that was deployed in the aftermath of the earthquake, and two more are expected at the Risk Atlas in Jamaica and in Barbados at the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF). The newly installed GeoNodes in the Eastern Caribbean are fully functional and are already being used by practitioners in each of the governments.

A community of practice was also created during the workshop to discuss the next steps of the data management agenda in the Eastern Caribbean, including a GeoNode “training of trainers”. There is a strong commitment and momentum in the Caribbean to work with open standards and move towards better collaboration to improve access to data related to disaster risk management.


Last updated: 2011-11-16

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