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Implementing low-cost landslide risk reduction: a pilot study in unplanned housing areas of the Caribbean


Landslides pose a serious physical and environmental threat to vulnerable communities living in areas of unplanned housing on steep slopes in the Caribbean. Some of these communities have, in the past, had to be relocated, at costs of millions of dollars, because of major slides triggered by tropical storm rainfall. Even so, evidence shows that: (1) risk reduction is a marginal activity; (2) there has been minimal uptake of hazard maps and vulnerability assessments and (3) there is little on-the-ground delivery of construction for risk reduction. This article directly addresses these issues by developing a low-cost approach to the identification of the potential pore pressure changes that trigger such slides we seek to address these three commentaries directly. A complex 45–60° slope site in St Lucia, West Indies was selected as a pilot for a modelling approach that uses numerical models (FLAC and CHASM) to verify the need for surface water management to effectively reduce landslide risk. Following the model confirmation, a series of drains were designed and constructed at the site. Post-construction evidence indicates the methodology to be sound, in that the site was stable in subsequent 1-in-1 to 1-in-4 year rainfall events. A critical feature of the approach is that it is community-based from data acquisition through to community members participating in construction.

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Correspondence to Malcolm Anderson.

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Anderson, M., Holcombe, L., Flory, R. et al. Implementing low-cost landslide risk reduction: a pilot study in unplanned housing areas of the Caribbean. Nat Hazards 47, 297–315 (2008).

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  • Slope stability
  • Landslide risk reduction
  • Unplanned housing
  • Pore pressure
  • Community-based risk reduction