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Accueil du site > Equipes de Recherche > Dégradation environnementale, risques de catastrophe : construction et vulnérabilité dans les Caraïbes > Problem, objectives, contexts and challenges

Environmental degradation, disaster risk construction and vulnerability in the Caribbean

Problem, objectives, contexts and challenges

Development became the principal theme of Latin American countries after the Second World War. The necessity to satisfy population demands for industrial products forced countries to consider local alternatives, which produced the development model of import substitution. Cuba, Haiti and the Dominican Republic have a long history in common which is interwoven due to the fact that they are neighbouring countries and that they are all the product of the European expansion at the end of the 15th century. Political conditions of the past characterized these three Caribbean nations, which at the beginning of the 21st century continue to present exceptional traits, due in great measure to the development models they have implemented. Cuba is the only country in the region where a socialist model exists. Haiti is the poorest country in the region and its internal political disputes detain the continuity of any development model. The Dominican Republic, according to the country’s Human Development Report, is the Latin American country with the highest economic growth in the past forty years, despite having around 50% of its population living below the poverty line.

The topic of disasters gained importance during the second half of the 20th century. New perspectives accentuating vulnerability, specifically social vulnerability are becoming dominant. The Caribbean region is one of the world’s most vulnerable regions regarding natural disasters due to the fact that the region is geographically situated in a multiple hazard zone. For this study, the PRIPODE DO1 research team chose communities which could help analyze different types of events typical to the region, looking into each countries’ disaster history. The researchers wanted to investigate hazards and vulnerabilities, the impacts, and also aspects of disaster management, capacities and the strategies implemented by communities to survive. Cases were chosen which would help see the relation between degradation processes or development processes and disaster risk construction. After a general survey of the cases of the Dominican Republic and Hurricane Georges, Haiti and the flooding of May 2004 and the 2004 Hurricane season in Cuba, the research team focused more closely on the cases of Tamayo and Fonds Verrettes in terms of hazards, vulnerabilities and risks.

The PRIPODE DO1 research team designed three main objectives to be carried out in this study : (1) to analyze development, population and environmental policies and models in the three countries in the last decades ; (2) to develop data in order to analyze natural resource uses and management and environmental degradation processes in the communities under study ; and finally to (3) develop data in order to analyze risk and disaster conditions and management in the communities under study.