(PRESS RELEASE) — In an effort to drastically reduce the country’s vulnerability to the impacts of climate change, the government of Saint Lucia has been implementing several initiatives under the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project (DVRP).
Following the handing over of two climate-resilient blocks at the Choiseul Secondary School, several small contractors are about to implement slope stabilization and drainage works in a flood mitigation programme, earmarked to bring much-needed relief to residents of Castries South East.
Project Consultant Lester Arnold, tasked with producing detailed designs for the works, says the disaster risk reduction initiative, particularly for residents of Marc, Bexon and environs, is timely given the traumatic experiences which they have faced over many years, whenever it rains heavily.
“This is a project that started about 12 months ago when we first met with the communities of Bexon and its environs, which were affected by continuous flooding whenever there were heavy rains. We had conversations with all residents who had complaints then assessed and prioritized them. With their input, we came up with various appropriate interventions. We are at the phase now where all the designs have been completed for those interventions and we are now looking to commence construction works.”
Interested contractors comprising males and females were taken to every location where projects will be implemented. During the excursions, contractors were provided with detailed information on the specific interventions for the particular area.
“Concrete line drains will be used for areas that are virtually without any form of proper drainage,” Arnold said. “Other interventions include reinforced concrete retaining walls, gabion basket retaining walls, masonry retaining walls and rip-raps. We do have bio-engineering to a certain extent, whereby after the areas have been sloped properly, glory cedar trees will be planted along the river banks to help with the slope stabilization.”
In addition to the site visits, prospective contractors attended capacity building workshops purposed to better equip them to deal with the tendering process. The workshops also provided additional opportunities to seek clarification on any matters related to the upcoming projects.
Key to the long-term sustainability of the project, Arnold says, is a maintenance schedule.
“What we have noticed in the past is that once you have a project that is community-based and persons buy into the project, you have a better maintenance schedule in place, by making sure that the drains do not get over silted. In that regard, we shall be providing small hand tools, namely, forks, pick axes, shovels, barrows, and similar implements, will be provided to the respective communities.”
Given the proven correlation between poor garbage disposal and the negative impact on drains, residents are also expected to benefit from information on proper garbage disposal practices, to ensure increased lifespan of the drainage works.
The EC$6 million slope stabilization and drainage projects under the DVRP are expected to last for six months, and will generate employment for scores of residents in the targeted communities.
Other communities expected to benefit from similar initiatives under the DVRP include Micoud North and Dennery village.