What is a Hazard Map? St. Vincent and the Grenadines Youth Explain

PADF Resilient Livelihoods program participant Kendra Lewis looks at the hazard map of her community on the island of Bequia.

PADF Resilient Livelihoods program participant Kendra Lewis looks at the hazard map of her community on the island of Bequia.

Small island nations are at great risk for natural disasters, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines is no exception. In the past few decades, volcanic eruptions, droughts, hurricanes, and flash floods have caused significant damage to the environment, infrastructure and the economy. As the effects of climate change become more severe, the situation is only expected to worsen.

PADF is helping young people in St. Vincent to be proactive by finding out which areas of the island are at risk. They are creating hazard maps using a handheld GPS to illustrate the areas that are most vulnerable to hazards. 

“I learned that my community is in the danger zone for volcanic activity and flooding,” says Ackeem Romeo of Georgetown, who participated in the project. “I didn’t know that before.”

Funded by the Government of Taiwan and implemented by PADF, the maps are part of a larger Resilient Livelihoods project to empower youth in St. Vincent to better prepare for and respond to anything that Mother Nature sends their way. Over the course of several months, more than 100 youth helped to create hazard maps in three areas of the country.

This hazard map shows areas prone to flooding, storm surges as well as the locations of emergency shelters in Georgetown, St. Vincent.

“They were in situations where they were affected by hazards, so it was the right time to go in and engage them,” says Hayden Billingly, a volunteer facilitator who taught hazard mapping.

Hazard maps are useful to residents in protecting themselves and learning where to evacuate in an emergency. They can also be used to inform policy at the government level. Maps that show areas prone to flooding can inform building codes and help the government restrict construction in hazard-prone areas. The maps will be turned over the St. Vincent’s National Emergency Management Office as a resource.

It’s a visual reminder of what the community is up against, Billingly says. “To see it on a map brings it home.”