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Landslides can have devastating impacts on lives, livelihood and infrastructure when they occur and Eastern Jamaica has a long history of devastating disasters which have negatively affected and, in some instances, destroyed whole villages.

Dr Servel Miller, from the University of Chester's Department of Geography and International Development, is working in partnership with the Kingston and St Andrew Municipal Corporation’s Mines and Geology Department, and the Office for Disaster and Emergency Management to research slope instability and flooding in Bull Bay and Shooters Hill in Eastern St Andrew, areas that experienced a fatal landslide and devastating flooding late last year.

An expert in natural hazard management, Dr Miller explained: “Last October’s tragedy in Shooters Hill, Eastern St Andrew, is a prime reminder of the risk slope instabilities such as landslides, mudslides, debris flows and rockfall pose to the built environment and lives.

“The unpredictable nature of landslides means it’s important to understand where these are before they occur, and the risk they pose so that we can then better manage them and inform development and land-use planning.”

Using data collated by local field researchers in Jamaica, Dr Miller is conducting landslide investigations and carrying out detailed mapping and analysis of the major landslides which occurred in Shooters Hill and Bull Bay during the heavy rainfall last year.

He added: “The overarching aim of the project is to assist the various government organisations that are involved in disaster risk reduction and planning.

“All of the data collected and information produced will be shared with participating organisations to aid in their planning, decision-making processes and policy development.

“Reducing the impact that flooding and slope instability have on lives and livelihood is a key priority for Jamaican government and the findings will be used to directly inform policy development and future development in the area.

“It is important that all stakeholders including government, academia, developers, communities and emergency response organisations work together collectively to contribute to disaster risk reduction which this project is aiming to achieve.”

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