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Environmental degradation, disaster risk construction and vulnerability in the Caribbean


The project was designed to implement a methodology which would allow for interdisciplinary and gender perspectives and for the use of quantitative and qualitative research methods. This implied the analysis of existing documentation and bibliography from the three countries under study regarding their development processes, population trends, environmental degradation processes, and disaster histories, experience and management.

To collect empirical data, a survey, in depth interviews and focus groups were used. The Survey was based on a detailed questionnaire which analyzed household and community socio economic data, hazard information and disaster management information. The survey was applied to a sample of fifty households per community. The criteria for household selection included that these be located in very vulnerable sectors of the communities, that they were occupied by disaster affected population, or that the head of household was a community leader. The questionnaire was prepared with input from all of the members of the research team to allow for the inclusion of different in country perspectives. This questionnaire was translated into French for its application in Fonds Verrettes. It was a pre coded questionnaire which was then processed and analyzed using the SPSS quantitative analysis software.

For the qualitative research, key informants were selected in each community which was interviewed in depth. These interviews complemented the survey, expanding on hazard information and disaster management information and including specific questions directed at acquiring information on topics of interest to the research which were not included in the survey, and which were considered more apt for in depth interviewing and focus groups. These were natural resource management, environmental degradation, gender roles in disasters, household strategies, vulnerabilities, and role of the community in disaster situations, key actors, details of disaster experiences, and risk and risk management.