While endorsing the need for a "national conversation" on perennial flooding, a release from the Ministry of Planning and Development has indicated that the Town and Country Planning Division (TCPD) has taken further steps to create Spatial Planning Guidelines to guide national development activities for Climate Change Adaptation and Flood-prone areas.
"These policy measures will ensure adequate adaptation to climate change and safeguarding of environmental and community resources while emphasizing the importance of preserving agricultural lands," the release read.
The release explained that this was part of the TCPD's review of its guidelines, standards and policies, including recommending no-build zones, "to ensure that development takes place with adequate reference to disaster risk reduction."
According to the statement, Minister Camille Robinson-Regis acknowledged the complex factors at play in flood risk management "as there are structural and non-structural options to be considered that must work in synergy if the response is to be sustainable".
"Notwithstanding the above, the treatment of waste and the simultaneous behaviour change required of the people of Trinidad and Tobago, is a critical non-structural solution which must also be considered in this national conversation. One cannot ignore the historical reasons which may have given rise to the establishment of entire communities within flood-prone areas where these lands were originally approved for agriculture. Neither can the refusal of citizens to follow building guidelines that can reduce the exposure of persons to floods, be ignored.
"Adhering to the required standards ensures that people build where there is the requisite infrastructure and minimal impact to the environment," the release said.
Referencing the flooding to northern Trinidad and Tobago with last week's passing of Tropical Storm Karen, the release noted the increased frequency of single-day weather events which bring more rainfall in one day than the usual monthly averages.
"With the severe and unpredictable changes in our weather patterns, The Honourable Minister, therefore, urges citizens to work with the Town and Country Planning Division and our sister agencies to implement sustainable solutions to combat this challenge," the release ended.