Caribbean communities are exposed to risks that have direct correlation with the regions geological origin and climatic characteristics. The impacts of natural hazards will always be a concern to communities that are exposed to these threats.
The geological dynamics of the Caribbean Basin forms part of, what is referred to as the Caribbean plate which is in constant motion. The presence of several active volcanoes in our region including our own Kick ‘em Jenny provides evidence of this. While the dynamics of seismic activities can be said to remain constant, climate and weather related hydrological phenomena have increased in magnitude and frequency.
History has proven that Grenada is not immune to the destructive forces of nature. The island topography, development has been streamlined to steep slopes, valleys and coastal areas where landslides and flooding have affected development in these risk prone areas. Unfortunately, the damage caused by these natural events has affected the poor significantly.
In recent years, the most common disasters that affected Grenada were floods and land slippage from hydrological phenomena and hurricanes. The impact of these extreme weather events have resulted in millions of dollars in damage to property and infrastructure and loss of lives. As a nation we have had a high price to pay in that, these disasters have drawn attention and taken resources away from the social services sector where they are desperately needed for poverty reduction.
In recognition of the damages caused by these extreme natural events that affect the poor, the Government has updated and approved new planning and building legislation to be more responsive to the current needs and demands for improved planning and environmental guidelines. In August 2016 a new Physical and Development Control Act (No. 23 of 2016) was approved by Parliament. PART VII of this Act adopts the Building Code by Order (S.R.O No. 42 of 2016) Physical Planning and Development Control (Adoption of Building Code).
The Building Code ensures minimum requirements for building, designs concepts and construction operation. It is established to protect public health, safety and the natural resources that sustain us. The Building Code is designed to protect people, buildings and property from fire, earthquakes, windstorms and other extreme events. The purpose of these regulations is to provide guidelines for minimising risk within the built environment to ensure as far as possible that all buildings are constructed in a “safe” manner and are resistant to natural hazards.
The Technical provisions of the Building Code offer enhanced protection against threats of natural and manmade disasters thus making our communities more resilient. It establishes baselines for estimating and managing risk within an insurance industry that is grappling with the effects of extreme weather events and their impact on the built environment. The Code provides consistent specifications and required guidelines for the built environment. Adherence to the Building Code will provide opportunities for property owners when negotiating reductions in insurance premiums.
As established in PART VII, Section 52 of the Planning Act, the Building Code is administered by the Planning and Development Authority through the Physical Planning Unit. No Planning permission shall be issued in respect of any building or engineering operation where:
- The plans are not in accordance with the Building Code.
- The building contravenes any provision of the Building code
The provision of the Building Code shall apply to the design and construction of new buildings, relocation, repair, alteration addition and reconstruction of existing buildings structures and the removal or demolishing of structures.