A partnership between the Martinique General Counsel and Jamaica’s Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management, resulted in a pilot project to reduce landslide risk in an unplanned urban community in Kingston, Jamaica. The project involved the construction of retaining walls from used tyres. The results reaffirmed the importance of regional and local partnerships as well as intersecting benefits between disaster risk reduction and environmental sustainability.


Melbrook Heights, St. Andrew Parish, Kingston Jamaica

Priority for Action

This case addresses Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) Priority Area 4 – Reduce underlying risks.


An unplanned urban community with poor infrastructure and vulnerability to landslides.

How the problem was addressed?

A low cost landslide mitigation method using old tyres was introduced through knowledge transfer. The initiative involved:

The main challenges were getting community members to transfer equity into the project through a process that reduced their wages. This was overcome through community meetings and tapping into the Community Disaster Risk Management (CDRM) groups previously formed by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).

Reinforced wall constructed entirely of used car tyres and soil in St. Georges Grenada / fishafoto - flickr Creative Commons
Reinforced wall constructed entirely of used car tyres and soil in St. Georges Grenada / fishafoto – flickr Creative Commons

Main lesson learned: in the absence of a robust national budget to reduce risk in unplanned communities, low cost mitigation options do exist which can reduce risk in an incremental manner.

Going forward, a stronger sense of ownership by community members should be fostered as the benefits will ultimately redound directly to them.


The landslide risk was successfully reduced in an unplanned urban community.

Measuring success

The impact is currently being measured. To date, however, there are reduced occurrences of landslides and improved intra community access as a result of intervention.

Relevance to HFA

Although the HFA or the Making Cities Resilient Campaign did not play a role in enabling this initiative, the results of the project have contributed to HFA progress in the Jamaica. Given the contraction in world economies, in particular those of developing countries, priority must be given to cross cutting local low-cost initiatives with the potential to reduce disaster risks. 

Potential for Replication

There is tremendous potential for replication locally as the comparative cost advantage makes it attractive. Sensitization sessions have been held with local government authorities and some non-governmental organizations have expressed an interest in replicating the method as a means of addressing small to medium slope landslide threats. 

The method is currently being replicated under another Community Based Landslide Risk Reduction Project (funded by the Japan Social Development Fund through the World Bank) in the community of Breastworks in Portland, Jamaica. Community persons previously trained in implementation under the pilot project will travel to Portland to train local artisans thereby transferring the technique to another section of the island. 

The project can also be replicated regionally via knowledge transfer.


Christopher S Gayle



Haruo Kubo