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Women-Centered Disaster Resilience in Small Island Developing States - Trinidad and Tobago

HOT Project

Trinidad and Tobago


Female high-school students from Trinidad and Tobago were trained on GIS concepts and applications, open mapping tools and techniques, risk management, and gender-based disaster resilience. They then mapped the flood-prone area around the school and created their own Dignity Bag for disaster preparedness.

Background: The gendered effects of flood risks in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago, a small island developing state (SIDS) in the Caribbean region, experiences major flooding events throughout the country during its rainy season, which has had a significant economic and social impact on its population. Among those impacts, we find that there are unequal distributions in terms of gender, as women and girls are less likely than men to have life-saving skills during a natural disaster, little attention is paid to their needs in emergency relief attempts regarding privacy, personal hygiene, and sanitation, and their capacities to respond to events and to be drivers of risk reduction are less recognized.

With this in mind, the GIS Society of Trinidad and Tobago (GISSTT) launched the Women-Centered Disaster Resilience in SIDS (WCDR in SIDS) Program to educate a female-led organization in using GIS (Geographic Information Systems) technology and concepts, with the goal of increasing their capacity to respond to natural disasters and other crises.

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Approach: Education for capacity building

For the implementation of the project, GISSTT collaborated with the Parvati Girls Hindu College (PGHC), an all-female high school in the Penal–Debe region, which is located in an area susceptible to flooding. A total of seventeen students between the ages of 15 and 17 participated in WCDR in SIDS. The project consisted of two main phases: training and remote mapping.

For the training phase, the WCDR in SIDS project team, comprised of GIS and disaster management professionals, developed a comprehensive and targeted curriculum covering basic GIS concepts and applications, open mapping tools and techniques, risk management, and gender-based disaster resilience concepts. Every Saturday from April 29th to June 3rd, the project team, comprising Rayna Sookdeo, Cassie Roopnarine, and Curmira Gulston, delivered 4.5-hour-long in-person lectures at the PGHC. Each week, the trainees completed the curriculum’s modules via the Caribbean School of Data’s (CSOD) online Learning Management System (LMS). Their performance was monitored by the Project Lead via the CSOD’s off-platform dashboard.

teaching.jpeg Priya Harnarine, GISSTT’s Projects and Special Initiatives Officer, guides two students from Parvati Girls Hindu College

After the training phase, the selected students had a 3-hour workshop to apply their local knowledge of Penal/Debe to identify and map infrastructure and available resources within the project area using HOT’s Tasking Manager. GISSTT President Shane Ragbir introduced the project to the trainees and guided them through the mapping. He then led a data validation exercise to validate the mapped points. The trainees also performed a brief field mapping exercise. Once the workshop was completed, the students received a Dignity Bag for disaster preparedness, inspired by their proposed designs, which included several personal hygiene items like sanitary pads, panty liners, and deodorant.

bag.jpeg Close up of a “Dignity Bag” that was given to the participants, based on their proposed designs

Upon conclusion of the Project, all trainees were made honorary Student Members of the GISSTT and can access information and resources to assist them in their School Based Assessments (SBAs) and future projects.

Impact: Women’s geospatial skills increase disaster resilience

As a result of this project, there were:

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Girls trained Buildings Mapped Km of Roads OpenStreetMap Edits

"I enjoyed learning how to use the software and mapping the actual buildings and houses, etc., on the map. The physical activities were very engaging, and I hope the information we mapped can help in minimizing the effects of floods."

— Testimony from one of the trainees

allparticipants.jpeg The GISSTT team poses along the students and faculty of Parvati Girls Hindu College

What Happens Next?

Following the conclusion of this project, the PGHC aims to establish a “train the trainer” program in which more teachers from the school will be trained in GIS applications and HOT’s Tasking Manager, with the intention of incorporating GIS into the school’s curriculum.

Moreover, GISSTT, our implementing partner for this project, identified several areas of opportunity if this project is to be replicated in other schools in the region:

  • Consider executing the program earlier in the semester or during the two-month July/August vacation period to ensure that the training does not conflict with the school’s examination period.

  • Since field mapping was only briefly addressed during the second phase of this program but was very well received by the students, the implementing partner recommends incorporating this aspect of open mapping in the curriculum. Considerations about consent should be taken in case a field mapping component is added.

  • On-boarding for the chosen Learning Management System platform should be done earlier, and a test should be performed beforehand to ensure that there are no technical issues on either end.


Photos by The GIS Society of Trinidad and Tobago (GISSTT)