Disaster Risk Reduction – St Helena

Donor funded by US AID and Catholic Relief Services EMPOWER

The need for effective disaster risk management is greater than ever and demands a change in the way we work. We have recognized that we must go beyond preparedness and response, so that people do not remain in a vicious cycle of poverty and disasters.

Using a Risk Mapping methodology, the community of St. Helena was chosen as our project. The project goal is to contribute to the disaster risk reduction (DRR) of vulnerable households of the St Helena Community through the strengthening of the capacities and abilities in alliance and coordination with other entities this would contribute to reducing the impact of flooding and have improved their resilience to climate-related risks.

St. Helena is an urban community located in the Tunapuna/Piarco municipality. According to Database.Earth as at 1st July 2023 the Population of St. Helena had 5314 residents consisting of 2554 Men and 2760 Women. It is 5.960 km² with a population density of 621.5/km² Population Density [2011].  Although the state does not track the migrants in the area, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) registration reported that as of October 23, 2023, 318 migrants were living in St. Helena.

St. Helena is a flood prone area and has experienced flood events every year, with the lower areas being the most affected.  Although residents employ WhatsApp groups to stay connected and try to be proactive by moving items to higher ground when alerts are raised, loss of household items and damages continue to be common when flood water rises.  In August 2023, residents of St. Helena were reported in a Guardian newspaper article as saying that “they are yet to recover from flooding which took place in 2021.” Due to the regularity of flooding in the area, construction practices have adapted to ensure that houses are elevated with easy to clean flooring materials but this is not consistently done.