Smith Warner International (SWI) has officially launched the Coastal Hazard Vulnerability Project (CHVP), in Dominica. Smith Warner, which started with three people and one project, was incorporated in Jamaica in 1995 by Dr David AY Smith and Philip Warner. Now there are 45 people and multiple projects.
The purpose of the project is to reduce the coastal vulnerability of citizens through improved access to data and strengthened decision-making autonomy of communities, and key sectors of Dominica, reliant on coastal resources. With its ecosystem-based approach, the project tries to avoid fighting against the sea by looking for more sustainable solutions that work with the sea.
The vulnerability assessment target areas are located in Dublanc, Coulihaut, Mero Beach, Layou Village, Newtown, Scotts Head, Dubic/Fond. GIS Specialist & Project Manager Smith Warner International Limited, Gabrielle Abraham listed two of their main objectives as a comprehensive coastal erosion and vulnerability assessment, and resilience publication.
“We at Smith Warner did an assessment many years ago in 2007 so definitely now in 2023 technology is a lot more advanced. We have drones, much better satellite imagery, we are also going to do beach profiles assessment, and shoreline analysis,” she said at the launching event on Friday at Fort Young.
She stated that companies have only done rapid assessments which is usually something that can be done with satellite imagery but this project is going to be a detailed one, where persons actually come in do the surveys, and do the analysis on the ground in Dominica. Other objectives are a Piloted Coastal Citizen Stewardship Programme for community ownership of coastal management across Dominica, Coast Snap Points, and Flood Hazard Campaigns.
In previous years, SWI did two projects in Dominica. In 2007, Following extensive damage from Hurricane Dean, one of the founders, Dr David Smith, was part of a United Nations Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (UN ECLAC) team that assessed damages to agriculture, buildings, and infrastructure so that funding agencies would know the extent of the damage and requirements for rebuilding. In 2021, a client wanted to enhance the beach area in front of Anichi Beach Development.
Abraham noted that the expectations of this project are improving coastal vulnerability data in Dominica, strengthened sustainability of coastal zone, monitoring, and practical resilience guidelines
She also added that another initiative from the project is “Coast Snap” which is a tool utilized on mobile phones. It relies on repeat photos at the same location to track how the coast is changing over time due to processes such as storms, rising sea levels, human activities, and other factors.