THE ENVIRONMENTAL VULNERABILITY OF CARIBBEAN ISLAND NATIONS*

Authors

  • Bryan J. Boruff,

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      Dr. Boruff is a lecturer in geography at the University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia 6009.

  • Susan L. Cutter

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      Dr. Cutter is a professor of geography and the director of the Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute at the University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina 29208.


  • *

    This research was supported through funding from the National Geographic Society (#7423–03). We appreciate the helpful comments of Jerry T. Mitchell, the three anonymous reviewers, and the editors who, through their substantive critiques, helped to improve this article.

Abstract

ABSTRACT. Within the hazards- and disaster-research community consensus exists as to factors that magnify or attenuate the effects of extreme natural events on local places. But less agreement and understanding exist concerning the methods or techniques for comparing hazard vulnerability within or between places, especially small-island developing states. Using two Caribbean nations, Saint Vincent and Barbados, as study sites, we asked which island has the greater level of hazard vulnerability, and why. Results indicate that, although neither island has a large portion of its population living in extremely hazardous locations, Barbados has many more residents in risk-prone areas. The methods used in this research provide valuable tools for local emergency managers in assessing vulnerability, especially through the delineation of highly vulnerable hot spots. They can also help donor organizations interested in vulnerability reduction on islands use their resources more efficiently.

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