Head of St. Maarten Office of Disaster Management visits KCL

Since 1995, when Hurricane Luis devasted St. Maartens, a disaster risk management system and institutions were established on the island. On 16 November 2015, Paul Martens, the Head of the Office of Disaster Management of St. Maarten, illustrated the development of such a structure to researchers and students at King’s College London (London, UK) and colleagues at UNESCO-IHE, connected from Delft, The Netherlands via videoconferencing. He highlighted how the island’s new constitutional status and autonomy since 2010 have deeply influenced the way disaster risk has been managed, bringing at the same time new opportunities and constraints. Stressing the strong linkages among economic development, urbanisation and decentralisation and their influence on disaster management, Paul Martens provided very practical insights of the daily issues faced by practitioners on the ground. Having conducted data collection in St. Maartens in the framework of the Case Study analysed within project PEARL, KCL participants recognised in the words of the speaker some of the challenges encountered during fieldwork and common to researchers dealing with disaster governance and planning in the Caribbean region.