Country

St. Kitts and Nevis

Explore historical and projected climate data, climate data by sector, impacts, key vulnerabilities and what adaptation measures are being taken. Explore the overview for a general context of how climate change is affecting St. Kitts and Nevis.

Vulnerability

St. Kitts and Nevis is most vulnerable to cyclones and hurricanes (and the resulting storm surge), floods, and droughts. The country lies on the southern edge of the Atlantic hurricane belt where tropical cyclones occur throughout August, September and October. Climate change has the potential to result in changes in hurricane frequency and intensity which will have countrywide social and economic implications.       

This section allows you to explore the susceptibility of livelihoods and natural systems to impacts of climate variability and change and facilitate the exploration of socioeconomic and development data and its relationships with natural hazards vulnerable areas. 

Natural Hazard Statistics

The charts provide overview of the most frequent natural disaster in a given country and understand the impacts of those disasters on human populations.

Natural Hazard / Development Nexus

This tool allows the overlay of different natural hazard maps with social economic datasets by sliding the bar horizontally, which provides a broad sense of vulnerable areas.

 
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Key Vulnerabilities

  • The Atlantic hurricane season extends from June - November, bringing heavy rainfall and increased likelihood of storm surges.
  • Hurricane frequency and intensity seemed to increase throughout the 1990's, with the country suffering the impacts of five major hurricanes between 1995-1999.
  • Drought has been identified as a critical hazard for Nevis only. Over 50% of the island receives less than 50 inches of rainfall per year. The greatest vulnerability lies in the south and south-east section of the island, particularly in the Charleston water zone and Butlers/Manning water zone. Although short periods of drought may occur throughout the year, extended periods are often experienced from February - April.
  • In St. Kitts, flooding is largely localized; heavy rainfall normally results in the overflow of Ghauts, as well as the retention of water in some sections of Basseterre. Charlestown, together with Basseterre, the capital of St. Kitts, are particularly vulnerable owing to their coastal location and due to the fact that a large percentage of the population resides in these towns. 
  • In Nevis, areas along the north-eastern to south-eastern seafront have relatively high vulnerability to storm surge, including Charlestown Port. In St. Kitts, areas at risk of storm surge occur along the south-western seafront as well as along the waterfront of Basseterre.

More information on natural hazards can be found at ThinkHazard.

  • Over 60% of the population in St. Kitts and Nevis are situated in coastal areas, rendering them vulnerable to sea level rise, storm surge and coastal flooding. Disaster risk priorities should therefore focus on protection of coastal zones.
  • Much of the islands’ construction is relegated to urban centers where there is little protection from the direct impact of wind forces. Stronger winds associated with the passage of hurricanes could devastate properties and infrastructure, necessitating reinforcement of these buildings and structures and their foundations and/or implementation of setback policies.
  • Flash flooding from mountain streams coupled with storm surge events presents the greatest risk to low-lying coastal areas. Disaster risk management mechanisms will need to combine hard engineering defenses such as seawalls, soft engineering mechanisms such as re-vegetation of coastal zones and maintenance of mangroves, and integrated coastal zone management to protect these villages and facilities.
  • In the future, lower-than-average rainfall and meteorological drought conditions, particularly in Nevis which already receives less rainfall than St. Kitts, will compromise freshwater availability. Furthermore, increased demand may lead to over-abstraction, exacerbating salinization of freshwater supplies. Efforts to protect wells and aquifers from salt water intrusion need to be made.
  • Tropical cyclones over the last twelve years have visibly decimated the upper levels of forests, and primary forests have been cleared in the past for agriculture and development. Given the important role forests play in the interception of rainfall which slows runoff and increases infiltration, especially on slopes, re-vegetation and re-forestation will be needed to slow run-off in ghauts and culverts. This will help to promote groundwater recharge and mitigate flooding.
  • The following should be priority in mitigating against disaster risks: assessment studies, early warning and public investment.
  • Assessment studies: Comprehensive mapping studies which focus on hurricane and flood risks as well as drought prone areas have been completed for St. Kitts and Nevis. There is now the need to integrate these assessments into land use policies in order to protect against severe economic losses associated with the damage and destruction of property and infrastructure in vulnerable areas.
  • Early warning: Currently, early warning systems largely focus on the tracking of hurricanes; however, there is the need to invest in other early warning systems for floods as well as agricultural and climatic drought.
  • Public Investment: The high cost of insuring against catastrophic risks, the reluctance of some insurance companies to provide coverage in high risk areas, and the absence of financial surpluses will constrain the extent to which government is able to lessen the impact of natural disasters on public finances.
  • More frequent or severe extreme climatic events will necessitate the need to invest in the coastal protection measures and climate proofing of important public infrastructure and government buildings.