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Disaster Risk Preparedness of Households in the Caribbean
World Bank
2024.06.18
Preparing for―and responding to―disasters requires a people-centered approach and a strong understanding of households’ ability to cope with shocks. Relying on novel household survey data, this paper examines the ability of households in the Caribbean to cope with disasters caused by natural hazards. The analysis sheds light on disaster preparedness in five “data deprived” countries: Belize, Dominica, Haiti, Saint Lucia, and Suriname. The analysis points to a clear income gradient in possession of emergency supplies needed to cope with disasters. This gradient can be observed at both the country and household levels. In contrast, no such income gradient is observed for other key elements of preparation for disasters: community disaster management systems and discussion of risk mitigation strategies within households (both of which are common in the Caribbean hurricane belt). There is substantial variation in preparedness to cope with disasters across sociodemographic groups, as households with less educated heads, with children, and residing in rural areas are generally less able to handle disasters. All in all, a large share of households in all five countries indicates that they are not prepared to cope with a natural disaster. The COVID-19 pandemic had a negative impact on disaster risk preparedness, primarily due to households’ deteriorating financial circumstances.