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Volume 670: debated on Thursday 10 March 2005

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asked Her Majesty's Government:What implications of the tsunami disaster have been identified as relevant to the reconstruction programme in Montserrat and the disaster mitigation policies of the Caribbean region. [HL1380]

A UN-funded integrated vulnerability assessment, published in February 2003, reported on all forms of risk to Montserrat, including tsunamis. The report recommended that, for planning purposes, buildings should be four metres above mean sea level. Because of Montserrat's mountainous terrain, nearly all construction takes place on high ground. The island's government are taking this recommendation into account in their detailed planning for the proposed development of the Little Bay area, some of which is low-lying.Seismic activity in the Caribbean is monitored by the University of the West Indies, which has direct access to the Montserrat Government's Emergency Department and similar regional bodies. Montserrat has a system in place, established with DfID funding, in order to warn the public in the event of a tsunami or any other natural disaster.More generally, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Response Agency (CDERA) has been mandated by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) to advise it on all issues related to tsunami threats, and to develop proposals for establishing a regional tsunami warning system. DfID is monitoring progress on this initiative through its regional office in Barbados and through its disaster management adviser for the Caribbean Overseas Territories who is presently based in the Turks and Caicos Islands.