Habitat for Humanity to make Port of Spain more resilient

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Dr Asad Mohammed delivers the city action plan at the Port of Spain City Hall on Friday. Photo by Cherisse L Berkeley

Habitat for Humanity Trinidad and Tobago and USAID are partnering with the Port of Spain City Corporation and the Office Of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) to make Port of Spain a more resilient city.

Speaking at a press conference at City Hall on March 25, MP for Port of Spain South Keith Scotland said, “When you look at the city of Port of Spain and its history you cannot deny it is a city of resilience. If there was a synonym for resilience it would be the city of Port of Spain.

“It is the people of Port of Spain who make it resilient.”

Resilience planner Asad Mohammed presented a city action plan to reduce disaster risk. The action plan covered ten essential areas: organisation, risk scenarios,financial capacity, urban development and design, natural buffers, institutional capacity, societal capacity, grey infrastructure, disaster response, recovery and rebuilding, and an appendix to include gender.

Mayor of Port of Spain Alderman Joel Martinez said, “We were given an opportunity. And opportunities, when you get it, it’s not to look at it from a negative perspective. Look at it from a positive perspective.

“Every time it rains in Maraval or Cascade the City of Port of Spain feels the pain of the rainfall.”

On where the city is on resilience, Mohammed said he could not put it into numerical form. He said, The ten essentials were ranked from one-three.

“The response mechanisms did not do bad, but the others ranged from mostly one-two. The overall ranking is not very good and there is a lot to be done.”

Asked what short-term action could be taken he said, “The city can do its own internal assessment from the linkages between various items listed in the ten essentials.

“The city identifying the various components of the work it already does with a heightened awareness of disaster risk and prioritisation of linkages between its various components of resilience.”

He added that another priority area would be to identify and highlight various communities with known information identifying the risks in those communities.

Asked if there would be any safeguard for the action plan should there be a change of government, he said, “The plan is not set in stone, some items have to be prioritised by the city, the task force and their stakeholders, as we have to know what is doable with the resources. There will be the need for some detailing for implementation.”

The press conference was followed by a public awareness event in Woodford Square. The public was invited to sign a petition for a land-empowerment campaign for women called SHElter. Its aim is to generate 4,000 signatures in support of more private-, public- and civil-sector facilities, educational opportunities, resources and programmes to be made available for the empowerment of women to become landowners.

The event also included a distribution of disaster preparedness pamphlets from the ODPM.


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