From Left: Jeff Lavia and Patricia Fraser
News
November 29, 2022
North Windward residents call for more Climate Justice Workshops

Participants who were involved in a Climate Justice Workshop in Sandy Bay last Wednesday and Thursday, November 24-25, have credited the forum with broadening their knowledge about climate change issues and want to see more of this type of information exchange take place.

Jeff Lavia, a resident of Sandy Bay, echoed the sentiments of others at the community participatory workshop which drew participants from areas north of the Rabacca Dry River, that the two day forum was enlightening. The workshop was held under the umbrella of the Caribbean Youth Environmental Network (CYEN) as part of its Climate Justice Awareness drive among indigenous communities.

Lavia said the workshop has increased his awareness and skills to be better able to manage his personal response to impending disasters. Those participating also shared that climate change workshops should be a regular feature of life for residents of Sandy Bay, due to the constant threat of disaster in their community.

Sea surges which, over the years, have reduced the size of Sandy Bay, land slippage, impacts of hurricanes, and invasive species are among the climate stressors and calamities which participants identified during their two days of engagement.

“For me, it was positive and very encouraging, and I have been enlightened more about climate change. A lot of positive came out of this, and I will to know how to handle a situation better and be more equipped and be more prepared for disaster,” Lavia said as he pointed to the severe impacts of climate change on his village.

While he is pleased with the outcome of the workshop, which was held at the Sandy Bay Seventh Day Adventist Church, Lavia noted that there are persons in the community who have not been as responsive as they need to be regarding information on calamities such as the eruption of La Soufriere Volcano.

He made specific reference to a forum planned to advise residents in North Windward of evacuation protocols ahead of the 2021 eruptions.

“There were people from this area who had a group and not even one person from that group showed up,” Lavia pointed out adding that there was good attendance from residents of Owia, Fancy, Orange Hill and Overland.

Last week’s workshop catered for an estimated 40 attendees each day, but in excess of 100 persons attended, mostly from Sandy Bay, despite heavy rains on the second day.

Among the main outcomes of the two day exercise was the compilation of seven layers of climate risk maps to be incorporated into the local National Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data base.

There was new information gleaned which resided with members of the community.

And, the naming of what was once a dry gutter in an area of Sandy Bay but is now a small stream can be regarded as one such piece of information.

The participants have named the stream ‘Monette river’ for ease of identification as it flows dangerously close to Monette Lavia’s home. It was previously named Cecilia’s Gutter, after her mother who has since died.

Monette is one of those who freely expressed her desire to see similar workshops taking place on a regular basis with solid community support.

“The advice I have for people of Sandy Bay is to take these workshop seriously. When you hear there is a workshop, encourage people to come out and learn more about climate change, especially in our community.”

This is because “Climate change has impacted my life, especially when the rain is coming, because the area that I am living in always floods as long as we have heavy rains, so I always have scary moments, anytime it rains”.

Vice president of host group, the Sandy Bay Heritage Development Organisation, Patricia Fraser concluded that the workshop was critically needed because of the impact of climate change on Sandy Bay, and the need to continually educate the people so they can be more responsive.

“I am hoping that this would be an ongoing education for the people because we need the education; we need to know the signs of climate change. There’s so much that we need to know so I would hope that it will be a continuous programme for the people, especially the younger people,” Fraser said.

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