Young Woman Educates Community About Climate Change

Natalia Bhajan points out vulnerable areas on the hazard map she helped create for her community of Georgetown, St. Vincent.

Natalia Bhajan points out vulnerable areas on the hazard map she helped create for her community of Georgetown, St. Vincent.

As some of the southernmost Caribbean Islands, St. Vincent and the Grenadines feature spectacular beaches, a rich cultural history and diverse marine and forest habitats. But the islands are also highly vulnerable to natural disasters. Steep slopes and mountainous terrain make the country prone to floods and landslides. Forty percent of the population is at risk of mortality from two or more hazards including an active volcano.  

Natalia Bhajan has seen the effects of climate change on her community of Georgetown. An increase in the severity of storms, rising sea levels and the clear cutting of forests on the island mean the environment is losing its protective barriers including mangroves, coral reefs, and forests.

Rubble marks the spot where a house collapsed into the riverbank during the 2013 floods in Natalia’s neighborhood of Georgetown.

Rubble marks the spot where a house collapsed into the riverbank during the 2013 floods in Natalia’s neighborhood of Georgetown.

“That’s what we facing every day,” she says. “You can’t be blind to what is happening.”

Funded by the Government of Taiwan, PADF's Resilient Livelihoods Project provides in-depth training to youth to reduce the risks associated with climate change and natural hazards. It also empowers them with opportunities to make their communities more resilient.

“Where we live is vulnerable,” Natalia says. “That’s why the people in our area need to be educated. 

Natalia says many of her neighbors aren’t aware of the problems. But when people in the community of Georgetown see the tight-knit Resilient Livelihoods group in their blue t-shirts, they always ask what they are up to, she says.

“The youth are the key. They’re the ones who can go back and tell the family.”