Barbados Leading the Way In Coastal Readiness

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The CZMU is working to build resilience into the island’s??shorelines??to protect against coastal hazards. (FP)??

Barbados is leading the way in its preparedness to deal with coastal hazards.

This is according to Acting Deputy Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit (CZMU), Antonio Rowe, as he spoke with the media recently. "We are reasonably prepared as far as coastal hazards are concerned considering however, that most of our critical infrastructure is within the coastal zone," he said.

Mr. Rowe explained that the CZMU, through its coastal engineering initiatives, attempted to build resilience into the island’s shorelines to protect against coastal hazards over the last 20 years.

"What we really want to do is move now from protection into more adaptation. Being able to retreat, which is the third option, is not always advantageous in an island with limited land space. With that in mind we are moving into a Coastal Risk Assessment and Management Programme where we are looking to build in resilience to climate change and to coastal hazards," he noted.

Mr. Rowe explained that they were now looking at the science and collecting the oceanographic data which would then be used to examine hazard related scenarios such as climate change, sea level rise and storm surge, to map the effects, particularly on areas that are most vulnerable.

The Acting Deputy Director contended that this would enable Barbados to better plan its development, so officials would know what areas were vulnerable and under what type of scenarios. … we want to be able to understand what floor levels need to be for critical infrastructure on the shoreline.

"We might look at car parks on the floor level and start the floors a certain elevation up to avoid flooding. We are also looking at the strength of concrete. By doing that when a hazard occurs there is likely to be less damage," Mr. Rowe reasoned.

However, he pointed out that while Barbados was "more ready than most" to deal with coastal hazards, there was room for improvement.

julia.rawlins-bentham@barbados.gov.bb

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