7.2 Comparing legislation and planning processes in the five target countries

Comparing legislation and planning processes in the five target countries

We have carried out an evaluation of the legislation related to spatial planning and land management in the five target countries. For each of the country and analysis was made of the following components: Land management and development processes and relevant legislation; Physical planning processes and legislation; Disaster risk Management; Status of hazard and risk information; Inclusion of disaster risk management in physical planning policies and development work. this section gives a SOT analysis for each of the countries. 

Authors: Charisse Griffith-Charles and Mujeeb Alam



The country reports are presented in the countries section of the CHARIM portal. To access the evaluation select the specific country.


SWOT analysis

An evaluation of integration of disaster risk management in the physical planning policies & frameworks and use of natural hazard and risk information in the development planning of the target countries is presented through a SWOT (Strengths-Weaknesses-Opportunities-Threats) analysis as detailed in Table 1.

 Table 1. SWOT analysis of the target countries’ situation in development planning and risk management



a) National Physical Development Plan (NPDP) for the whole country has been prepared and risk management is included in their development framework

b) A development limitation map has been introduced by integrating flood, landslide, and erosion hazards with the Grenville local area plan to restrict development in hazard prone areas

c) There are setback regulations (e.g. distance from the high water mark) for coastal area management  

d) A GIS exists within the physical planning unit (PPU) and most of the hazard maps are available in GIS format, and simple overlay analyses are performed to identify land parcels that are potentially at risk

d) There is will in the physical planning unit to use hazard information in the planning  



a) Inclusion of risk management is lacking in the Act 2002. Moreover, the Act does not advocate use of any hazard information for planning.

b) The Physical Planning Unit has no specific strategy regarding implementation of an action plan (related to risk management) as mentioned in the NPDP 

c) There is limited capacity within the PPU to produce and use hazard and risk information.

d) The development limitation map is based on qualitative maps

e) Most of the available maps to PPU are qualitative, relatively old and of medium to small scale, which are not very useful for local level planning and development control.

f) There is no government agency or centralized body producing / systematically collecting hazard and vulnerability information and coordinating its further use.


a) The PPU is in the process of reviewing planning legislation (i.e. Act 2002). Explicit hazard considerations in the physical planning may be incorporated in the legislation.

b) There is an existing initiative and funding to develop a national land policy for Grenada. A clear policy and strategy for mainstreaming DRR in to the physical planning may be included, which is already recognized in the National Strategic Development Plan.


a) It will be challenging and difficult to implement any hazard related measure, unless there is uniformity and consistency in the planning legislation, NPDP, and Grenville local area development plan. Currently, there is lack of uniformity because the legislation has not yet been approved.

b) There is no specific organization in the country with the mandate to produce and provide hazard and risk information.  This will limit the use of such data for physical planning in Grenada.

c) Over 80 % of the land tenure is in private hands or in various levels of insecure, informal tenure. This calls for close collaboration with communities and active participation of the public to abide by laws related to risk management. 



a)  There has been approval of a national land use policy and formulation of land use planning strategies for flood risk management. 

b) There is legislation for land sub-division and utilization. Additionally, there has been preparation of sub-division guidelines to streamline the process.

c) There is representation of NEMO in the Land Subdivision and Utilization Authority. This Authority is responsible for making recommendations to the relevant Minister on applications related to sub-division and land utilization.

d) There has been preparation of a Belize city Master plan with special considerations for flood risk management.



a) There is no specific government body for development planning in the country

b)  There is no ownership of the national land use policy to implement flood risk management measures defined in the policy

c) There are no specific guidelines related to natural hazard consideration in the sub-division guidelines or legislation 

d) There are no updated flood maps available. Currently, an old map, which was produced in 1992, is being used

f) There is no local government agency producing hazard and risk information.


a) The Lands and Survey Department is in the process of revising the national land use policy. The Department may maintain and where necessary revise land use planning strategies for flood risk management as mentioned in the current policy.

b) Implementation of flood mitigation and control measures has been proposed for the Belize city Master plan.


a) A limited supply of updated and large scale hazard maps and other related data such as topographic data may limit use of such data in the physical planning. This is particularly true as development is taking place mainly at plot level   



a) Physical planning legislation i.e. Town and Country Planning Act, 1992 is enforced in the country for orderly use of land.

b) A GIS exists within the planning unit to facilitate physical planning. This section is currently in the processing of developing national GIS system by collecting and integrating spatial data from various sources.



a) There is no provision in the physical planning legislation for use of hazard information in development planning.

b) There is non-availability of good quality landslide maps and infrequent use of existing hazard maps for planning. No flood hazard map is available despite the fact that the country is quite vulnerable to inland flooding due to its hilly topography.

c) No local government agency is producing hazard and risk information.


a) The Ministry of Housing, Informal Human Settlements, Lands & Surveys and Physical Planning is currently in the process of developing a national land policy (draft is ready) and national physical development plan (currently revising methodological framework which was earlier prepared in 2013) for SVG. The Ministry may consider including risk management in their  national policy and NPDP.  


a) There is no government organization that has the mandate for undertaking hazard assessments and providing relevant data for physical planning.  This ultimately hinders the use of hazard information for planning purposes

Saint Lucia


a) Physical planning legislation (i.e. Physical Planning and Development Act, 2003) has been enforced since 2003.

b) National land use policy is prepared and hazard and disaster risk management is specifically addressed.

c) A large number of hazard maps have been prepared under different donor projects and is available to the physical planning section.

d) Setback requirements and guidelines are available for development control.



a) Inclusion of risk management is lacking in the physical planning legislation.

b) The national land use policy (which also addresses the issue of hazard and disaster risk management) is not approved by the Cabinet and is in draft form since 2007.

c) There is limited utilization of available hazard maps for development control and planning.

d) National physical development plan is not produced and most of their local area development plans have not received formal approval of the Cabinet and the National Assembly.

e) There is no local government agency producing hazard and risk information.


a) Although, risk management is not specifically included in the Act 2003, there is provision for addressing hazard issues through EIA.  However, it will be effective only on specific projects that require mandatory study of an EIA for approval.


b) The physical planning section is currently revising the national land policy and getting its approval as well as preparing a national physical development plan for the whole country. There is opportunity for including risk management in the national policy and plan.   


a) Since there is no specific government agency in the country for carrying out hazard mapping and assessments, the supply of updated data for physical planning will be lacking and ultimately, there will be no utilization of such data in the physical planning.



a) A Physical Planning Act, is in place to direct physical planning and orderly use of land in Dominica. 


b) There are specific provisions in the planning law to consider natural hazards in allocation of space for development planning.


c) There has been inclusion of risk management concepts in the newly drafted national land use policy for the country


d) A number of hazard maps are available to be used by the physical planning division. 


a) There is no utilization of existing hazard maps. Additionally, most of the existing maps are relatively old, qualitative and medium to large small scale, which are not very useful for planning

c) There is an absence of risk management in local area development plans

d) There is no local government agency producing hazard and risk information.


a) They are in the process of getting formal approval of national land use policy and its implementation (with special reference to risk management)


b) Physical planning division is in the process of preparation of national physical development plan for Dominica as a whole. Risk management may be addressed in the national plan. The national land use policy recommendations should be incorporated in the  NFDP.


c) The country is getting formal approval for a draft Building Code and draft Minimum Property Standards


a) No organization in Dominica is responsible for carrying out risk assessments and producing hazard and risk information. Under these circumstances, it is not known who would provide the desired information   for physical planning. 





Physical planning in the 5 target countries takes place broadly at two levels; development planning and development control. However, overall, the development approach is reactive, and limited forward planning is taking place. Only Grenada has formally approved a national level physical development plan. St. Vincent, St. Lucia and Dominica are currently in the process of developing one such plan for their respective countries. Belize, however, has no Central Authority to take the initiative and develop a plan.

Use of hazard maps in planning is limited in all these countries. Use of risk information is rather absent. Only the physical planning unit of Grenada has a substantial example to present, where they introduced the concept of a "development limitation map", that is part of the Grenville area development plan. Conceptually, it is a very good idea, but it may be difficult to apply the map to development applications. 

There are many reasons for the limited use of hazard information in planning including; 1) there is no specific legal requirement to use them; 2) usefulness of most of the available maps is limited (in terms of scale, currency, content) to effectively incorporate them in planning with certainty; 3) limited technical capacity of staff about hazard and risk information and their specific applications in planning; 4) there are no specific government agencies identified in these countries with the authority and responsibility to produce such information and provide it for planning. Also, it is not the primary responsibility of planning units to undertake mapping exercises. They would use the maps when they are made available by other organisations. It is similar in Europe as, one of the main conclusions of the ARMONIA project (Fleischhauer et al., 2006) was also that the spatial planning is not responsible for undertaking risk assessments, rather; it is an end-user of assessment results provided by other sectors.  

Considering these current planning circumstances in the countries, including the availability of hazard and risk information and other related resources, it may not be practical and possible for directly integrating hazard maps into development work in all the target countries at this time without the infrastructure in place. However, it is still important to consider the existing hazard and risk information on landslides and floods at each level of planning; parcel, local, regional, and national level, for improved risk management. This can be achieved by introducing a simple practice of the planning independently consulting the available hazard maps when making decisions on space. Introducing a formal stage in the planning process may be difficult as a result of the many issues including; 1) there is no specific legislation and initiating and completing the process of passing legislation is costly and time consuming; 2) in all the countries no organization is locally generating and maintaining the data and information to supply them in a timely fashion to the planning agencies. The institutions are heavily dependent on external assistance for providing the resources required to acquire and maintain the relevant data and information; 3) most of the available hazard maps are qualitative and missing important definitive information that is needed for confidently and precisely making planning decisions; 4) the existing hazard maps require to be revised/updated regularly to current conditions, which then requires additional resources; 5) in these countries, most of the land is either privately owned or in informal tenure situations like squatting on state and private land or in family land occupation. For instance, in Grenada over 80 % of land tenure is in private hands and government has to work very closely with the local community to secure their ownership and support in the implementation of planning decisions. Where the tenure is informal the developer does not or cannot make an application for development and the planning authority does not accept the application or does not know who legally should be penalised for developing without permission. In a nutshell, a holistic, integrated system is required for the full establishment of a procedure to incorporate hazard considerations into the physical development planning.

A flood hazard matrix is therefore proposed for Grenada following the lines of the Swiss risk management approach which is based on flood intensity (height) and probability. The typical classes proposed are; very high, high, moderate, and low risk. Since there was no information available on the amount of damage caused by various previous flooding events in Grenada, it was difficult to define significant thresholds that are relevant with respect to different buildings types. Therefore, Swiss criteria were employed to define intensity levels. The physical planning unit of Grenada may use this classification scheme for their planning purposes. The classified flood hazard maps could directly be applied for both development planning and control. For example, when it is necessary to prepare a physical development plan for a new region or revise the existing national physical development plan this map may be used as a source of information to decide on potential use of space and to make differentiated decisions on space allocation, which is typically called risk priority zoning (Greiving & Fleischhauer, 2006; ITC & CNN, 2012). Currently, the planning unit does not have any quantitative flood hazard map and specific classification scheme. The building permit department could utilize this product as a basis for decisions on whether to allow, with or without conditions, the construction of a building in a particular area. Moreover, for the sub-division of lots and subsequent development in an area, the planning unit will be able to better negotiate with potential developers about possible risk reduction measures as the graphic information is clear and understandable for both parties. The existing development limitation map for the Grenville area can also be revised by taking into account the flood hazard matrix and any new flood information from these maps.  
Through an exposure analysis (by combining classified flood hazard maps with the results of a population distribution map produced using the dasymetric mapping concept which uses areal symbols to visualise volumetric levels), the number of dwellings and population that are at risk for certain flood classes were estimated. Since, data on the individual characteristics of each building were not acquired, definitive statements cannot be made on whether these buildings will be damaged or not in case of an event. However, the planning unit or other relevant government department may make use of this information to roughly prioritize sites for implementing any type of mitigation measure after additional field visits to observe the buildings. 


For references we refer to the specific country evaluations: