The funds are being administered by the World Bank, through the Japanese Social Development Fund (JSDF), which was set up within the Bank to provide indirect assistance to its most vulnerable member countries.
The project aims to reduce the risk of natural disasters in four vulnerable communities, and provide an evidence-based tool kit for vulnerability reduction throughout the Caribbean. It is being executed by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) and is expected to last three years.
Speaking at the signing at his ministry, Minister of Finance and the Public Service Audley Shaw, noted that the project is "quite timely", and will provide significant benefits in the area of climate change challenges, with due consideration to the impending hurricane season.
"It's significant in the sense that it's a pilot project, not just for disaster mitigation in vulnerable communities across this island. It is something that is going to be an indicative study to guide mitigation in the entire Caribbean region," he said.
Shaw also pointed out that Jamaica is exposed to various natural hazards, particularly floods and landslides, the damage from which has proven costly to the country.
"Over the last 20 years, natural hazards have resulted in cumulative costs in excess of US$1 billion and, at today's exchange rate we are talking about cumulative costs of $89 billion. That is the extent of the damage that natural disasters have caused in Jamaica," he said.
Japanese Ambassador to Jamaica, Hiroshi Yamaguchi, said Japan's grant contribution to the project, is demonstrative of the renewed commitment of the Government and people of Japan to make it possible for the Government and ODPEM to provide substantive tools and workable strategies, that will strengthen the capacity of disaster risk reduction in disaster prone areas.
World Bank's Special Representative to Jamaica, Dr Badrul Haque, said the Bank "stands ready" to support Jamaica in implementing the reforms Jamaicans have identified, undertake critical investments to increase resilience and capacities of the poor to move out of poverty and continue to support social protection for the most vulnerable persons.
According to a brief on the project, it comprises three components, the first of which involves the development of a tool kit and short video on the Management of Slope Stability in Communities (MoSSaiC) methodology, and its application which will outline the best practices for land risk reduction and promote safer slope management in vulnerable communities. The MoSSaiC method aims to apply low-cost landslide risk reduction measures to develop sustainable strategies for slope stability management.
The other component entails training on the MoSSaiC methodologies for community-based landslide risk reduction. The training will include workshops for ODPEM staff, leaders and members of the four targeted communities. There will also be a national workshop to reach a wider cross-section of the population, in order to disseminate lessons learnt and explore opportunities for project replication.
The final component involves the implementation of community-based landslide risk reduction measures in the four communities. This includes assessing the communities' vulnerability to landslides and the implementation of mitigation measures identified on the application of the MoSSaic.