Active Projects: 3

GDP (current US$): 14.02 billion (2016)

Population: 2.88 million (2016)

Major Partners

African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP), European Union, Caribbean Development Bank, Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), World Bank

INFORM Risk Rating: 2.5

Risk data from INFORM, a global open-source risk assessment for humanitarian crises and disasters, uses a scale from 0-10, with 10 as the highest level of risk.

Primary Hazards

For additional information on the natural hazard risk profile, visit ThinkHazard.


Natural Hazard Risk

Natural hazards pose a significant risk to the small island state of Jamaica, with potentially significant consequences for economic development and poverty. Jamaica is the third most exposed country in the world to multiple hazards, with over 96 percent of the country’s GDP and population at risk from two or more hazards. Its primary risks are linked to hazards including hurricanes, floods, droughts, earthquakes, storm surges, and landslides. High exposure is attributed to the country’s location in the Atlantic Hurricane Belt and the geophysical orientation of its low-lying coastal zones, and its mountainous topography. The Jamaican territory is also crossed by five major fault lines, including the Plantain Garden Fault Zone, which triggered the 2010 Haitian earthquake.  

Climate change models predict Jamaica could be impacted by an increased frequency of catastrophic natural events as a result of heightened surface temperatures and global sea level rise. Adverse natural events in Jamaica regularly impact livelihoods, destroy infrastructure, and disrupt the provision of essential services.  

Government Priorities

In recognition of the challenges posed by natural hazards, the Government of Jamaica has taken steps to strengthen the country’s disaster risk management (DRM) and develop national strategies and policies to promote more resilient development planning. These steps include the Natural Hazard-Risk Reduction Policy (2005), the Building Code Bill (2013), and the Disaster Risk Management Act (2015), which is the primary policy tool for DRM in the country. Likewise, the country’s National Development Plan, ‘Vision 2030 Jamaica’ (2009-2030) identifies risk reduction and adaptation to climate change as a way to improve national mitigation and response, and to decrease risk vulnerabilities.  Similarly, Jamaica’s National Adaptation Planning Process, renewed in 2012, addresses climate change impacts as a national development priority.  

Jamaica has also taken steps to strengthen its fiscal resilience to natural hazard shocks, including by becoming a member of the multi-country risk-pooling Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF) SPC, with GFDRR support. It has also established a National Disaster Fund to finance emergency response and rehabilitation activities following disasters. 

To further advance Jamaica’s DRM agenda, government priorities include: 

  • Improving institutional capacity to plan and respond to climate change events and natural disasters;
  • Exploring additional options to strengthen fiscal resilience to natural hazard events;  
  • Constructing and promoting climate and disaster resilient infrastructure; and,  
  • Better understanding natural hazard and climate change risk.  
GFDRR progress to date

Since 2008, GFDRR has helped enable DRM in Jamaica through country-specific and regional grants among OECS member countries. The majority of GFDRR support has been focused on risk identification, risk reduction, financial resilience efforts, and post-disaster recovery and reconstruction assistance.

GFDRR has also facilitated engagements after major disaster events. Following August 2008’s destructive Tropical Storm Gustav, GFDRR activities helped to restore community infrastructure like basic, primary, and all-age schools and health clinics in the most affected parishes. GFDRR also provided training to increase the government’s ability to respond to natural disasters. Additionally, GFDRR has supported activities to help the Government of Jamaica in enhancing national recovery preparedness through the systematic development of national post-disaster assessment methodologies, and through the creation of stronger institutional coordination mechanisms for recovery.  

Through technical assistance and financial support, GFDRR is also helping Jamaica integrate risk considerations into new and existing educational investments; strengthen DRM and climate resilience in the country’s development-planning process; and build disaster-responsive social protection systems.  From 2014-16, GFDRR supported a regional program in Jamaica and the Caribbean to help reduce landslide risk through the management of slope stability. The program included  the provision of course materials, web-based learning, a knowledge exchange platform, and software for calculating and modelling landslide risk. The goal is to provide low-cost, community-based solutions to reduce landslide risk. 

GFDRR anticipates new and continued demand in the following areas: 

  • Building institutional capacity to identify, assess, and understand disaster and climate risks in terms of their economic and fiscal impact; 
  • Improving Jamaica’s infrastructure resilience, including national and sub-national priority infrastructure (e.g., bridges and urban drainage) and critical public facilities (e.g., schools and fire stations);  
  • Strengthening disaster emergency preparedness and response efforts; and,  
  • Improving the generation and collection of targeted hazard and risk information and analyses, for use in monitoring systems and decision-making processes. 

Projects Awarded by GFDRR 2007 - Present

Project Description
Developing Disaster Risk Management Strategy in Jamaica's Education Sector
$500,000 04/2016 - 04/2019

The project aims to support the Government of Jamaica in mainstreaming disaster risk management in the regulation, planning, designing, construction, and management of school infrastructure as part of the national education sector development plan. It will do so through the following activities: (i) generating a school infrastructure baseline by conducting a structural survey of schools nationwide; (ii) enhancing a school infrastructure planning, design, construction, retrofitting, and maintenance framework; (iii) conducting disaster risk assessments; (iv) implementing disaster risk mitigation programs and prioritization of risk mitigation interventions; and (v) building institutional capacity on building safety within the Ministry of Education and National Education Trust of Jamaica.

Strengthening Disaster Risk Management and Climate Resilience in Jamaica’s Development Planning Process
$644,924 01/2015 - 01/2018

The objective of the project is to strengthen Jamaica’s disaster risk management (DRM) framework. It will do so through helping to: (i) mainstream DRM in policy development; (ii) improve the application of disaster risk analysis to selected sectors; and (iii) strengthen institutional capacity for disaster vulnerability reduction. Activities aim to support the Government of Jamaica to better integrating disaster vulnerability reduction and climate change adaptation considerations into national development planning processes, as well as develop new risk tools to guide vulnerability reduction and emergency preparedness. The project is complementary to the World Bank's Jamaica Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project.

Strengthening Jamaica’s Social Protection System for Disaster Preparedness and Response
$430,000 04/2016 - 12/2017

This project aims to strengthen the Government of Jamaica’s social protection system for disaster preparedness and response, with a particular focus on better targeting poor and vulnerable households affected by natural hazards. Project activities include improving the design of critical social protection delivery system instruments and providing capacity building and training for government staff and beneficiaries of social protection and labor programs. The government seeks to strengthen post-disaster social protection service delivery mechanisms to enhance disaster preparedness, a key objective in the country’s social protection strategy that was approved by the Cabinet in March 2014. This project will inform ongoing World Bank-financed operations, including the Jamaica Social Protection Project and the Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project, while strengthening links between Jamaica’s social protection and disaster risk management systems.

World Bank Engagements 2012 – Present

Project Description
Jamaica Disaster Vulnerability Reduction Project $30 million | Start date: 2016-1 (Ongoing)

The project development objective is to enhance Jamaica’s resilience to disaster and climate risk.

Improving Climate Data and Information Management $7.5 million | Start date: 2016-1 (ongoing)

The project development objective is to improve the quality and use of climate-related data and information for effective planning and action at the local and national levels.

Second Competitiveness and Fiscal Management Programmatic DPF $70 million | Start date: 2017-6 (Ongoing)

The project development objective is to improve the quality and use of climate-related data and information for effective planning and action at the local and national levels.