Jeffery Town, in Jamaica’s northeast, is a community of almost 3,000 people. Around half of the working population are engaged in agriculture, growing food and cash crops on family-owned farms. The area’s land is unstable because of the clay-based soil, and landslides during or after heavy rain pose the greatest threat after the immediate damage inflicted by hurricanes.
Jeffery Town Farmers Association was created in 1991 in an effort to redress risk and lack of investment in a marginalised area, using agriculture as a platform for sustainable development. That provided a springboard for what has become an exemplary disaster risk reduction and response programme, driven by the community, and which has helped Jamaica formulate its national policies. The association, which is run by volunteers, has achieved staggering results thanks to a series of small grants. Among its ongoing efforts to meet hazards head on are reforestation, building gabion walls and terraces, checking dams and clearing gullies, as well as replacing roofs and adding hurricane straps to buildings. Other cornerstones include community training in response and reconstruction, the mobilisation of teams to prepare for and tackle disaster impact, and an award-winning radio programme to share valuable lessons within the community and beyond.
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