In an effort to drastically reduce the country’s exposure to the impacts of natural disasters, the Government of Saint Lucia has been implementing several initiatives, under the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP), including island wide slope stabilization and drainage works, geared towards minimizing the impacts of heavy rains on vulnerable communities.
On August 30, 2019, several contracts were signed heralding the commencement of works in Castries South East namely, Country Village, Odsan, Barre du Chaussée, Bèlaire, Marc, Tete Marc, and Forestierre.
Project consultant Lester Arnold, tasked with producing detailed climate-resilient designs for the works, says the disaster risk reduction initiative for residents is very important, given the distressing experiences which they have faced over many years, whenever it rains heavily.
Potential contractors comprising male and female professionals were first taken to every location where some 19 packages of works are expected to be implemented. During the excursions, contractors were provided with detailed information on the specific interventions for the particular area.
“Works include a mixture of concrete line drains for areas that are virtually without any form of proper drainage, slope stabilization for areas that are threatened by landslides, different retaining structures whether reinforced concrete retaining walls or gabion baskets, and in some instances, ripraps.
“Some bioengineering—glory cedar trees for example—will be utilized along the river banks to help with the slope stabilization,” Design Consultant for the project, Lester Arnold explained.
Key to the long-term sustainability of the project is a maintenance schedule.
“Communities where projects will be implemented will be presented with small hand tools, namely forks, pick axes, shovels, barrows, and other necessary implements that will allow residents to adequately maintain drains, thereby prolonging their lifespan, to the ultimate benefit of everyone,” Arnold said.
Speaking to the gathering at the brief ceremony, Minister for Economic Development and Parliamentary Representative for Castries South East, Hon. Guy Joseph, noted his delight at the progress made to date.
“I am optimistic” he said “given the quality of the climate conscious designs and the eagerness of the contractors that works will be of a high standard and completed within time and budget. The people of these areas truly deserve a break from flooding whenever there is a heavy downpour of rain.”
The approximately XCD6 million dollar slope stabilization and drainage projects under the DVRP, are expected to last for 6 months and will generate employment for scores of residents in the targeted communities.
Other communities expected to benefit soon from similar initiatives include Micoud North, the Dennery village, and Blanchard.