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Disaster Preparedness & Assessment


Within the framework of the Barbados Multi-hazard Disaster Management Plan

Why is damage assessment so important?

Damage assessment in Barbados derives its authority from the Emergency Management Act 2006. The Government of Barbados is committed to meeting the needs of its population in the threat of natural and human-made hazards. As part of this commitment, the Department of Emergency Management (DEM) has been mandated to ensure that there are national systems in place to cope with multi-hazards within a Comprehensive Disaster Management framework that is within the context of all phases of the Disaster Continuum: Prevention and Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, Recovery: Rehabilitation and Reconstruction.

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Damage Assessment is an important activity conducted during the Response Phase and is the mechanism used for determining the impact and magnitude of damage caused by a disaster. It is the process by which the extent of damage, following a major hazard impact, is defined through the systematic collection and analysis of damage information. This information is used to ultimately determine the needs of victims and to create strategies for appropriate assistance to restore the affected area to a sense of normality in the shortest possible time.

Damage Assessment Plan is a subsection of the Barbados Multi-hazard Disaster Management Plan. It outlines the framework through which damage assessments are to be conducted in Barbados. The plan outlines the Authority, Purpose, and Objectives along with the Institutional Framework for planning, in addition to the Standard Operating Procedures which governs the actions to be undertaken in the event of a response.

The Damage Assessment and Statistics Standing Committee is led by the Director of Statistical Service. If an emergency has been declared, members of this damage assessment team will meet at the DEM’s Emergency Operations Center (EOC), to collate and analyse the data, and determine the following:

  • Extent and type of Damage
  • Identify the resources required for a more detailed assessment
  • Identify the needs of the affected population

Under the National Emergency Management mechanism the responsibility for damage assessment planning is vested in the Damage Assessment and Statistics Standing Committee.

The membership is comprised of the following:

  • Director of Statistical Service - Chairman
  • Chief Housing Planner, Ministry of Housing, Lands and Rural Development – Deputy Chairman
  • Chief Technical Officer, MTW
  • Director of Data Processing Department
  • Chief Agricultural Officer, Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security
  • Chief Town Planner, Town and Country Planning Department
  • Chief Welfare Officer, Welfare Department
  • Chief Technical Officer, National Housing Corporation
  • Commissioner of Police, Royal Barbados Police Force
  • General Manager, Barbados Water Authority
  • Director, UDC/RDC
  • General Manager, Barbados Light and Power Co. Ltd.
  • The Chief Executive Officer, Digicel
  • The Chief Executive Officer, FLOW Barbados
  • Director of DEM
  • The National Representative, District Emergency Organisation

Damage Assessment will be coordinated jointly by the Director, BSS and the Chief Housing Planner, prior to the commencement of field work.

Volunteer to become a Damage Assessment Officer

Government is looking for committed and responsible individuals to assist with assessing damage to the country in the wake of a disaster. Read the full details at Government Information Service.

We also invite you to submit your application to become an official Damage Assessor.

Volunteer to become a DA Officer

Management of damage assessment

The Damage Assessment process comprises of the following components:

  1. Information, needs and resources identification
  2. Data Gathering
  3. Data Analysis and Interpretation
  4. Reporting
  5. Response

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Information, needs and resources identification

This first stage involves the recording of the emergency event, the identification of the resources which will be required based on the reports from the Rapid Situation Overview Team, anticipation of the needs of the persons affected and estimating the magnitude of the event (Reference 7.3.1). This occurs within 12 hours after the All Clear is given

Data Gathering

This second stage is concerned with the confirmation of the reported event, identifying, characterizing and quantifying the populations at risk as a result of the hazard impact. This involves the deployment of the Initial Damage Assessment Team, as determined by the Rapid Situation Overview, in accordance with its Standard Operating Procedures. It is conducted within 12 – 48 hours after the All Clear is given.

Data Analysis and Interpretation

This 3rd stage focuses on the analysis of the data obtained from the Initial Damage Assessment and provides information to the EOC management mechanism which will determine the following:

  • Define and prioritize the actions and resources needed to reduce suffering and deaths
  • Identify the existing local and functional response capacity
  • Anticipate future problems, making use of GIS systems and or any such analytical programmes.


This 4th stage relates to the information analyzed in stage 3. The results of the analysis will be sent to relevant response agencies for their immediate action. This may result in the activation of the Detailed Damage Assessment Team.


This is the final stage of the assessment process and it entails the implementation of actions, identified at stage 3, required to respond to the disaster situation and aid persons in need. This stage is also concerned with the designing and modification of existing disaster response plans, as the situation deteriorates or improves.

What would be my role as a DAO?

You will be involved in the Initial Damage Assessment (IDA) phase. This is the 2nd phase of the Damage Assessment Process that will be carried out on the completion of the Rapid Situation Overview and depends on the result of the RSO.

This will be done to obtain an initial evaluation of the damage to each sector and it is typically carried out within the first forty-eight (48) hours after the all clear is given. It involves a number of trained damage assessors making observations of the extent of the damage to buildings, other assets and infrastructure. These persons make up the Initial Damage Assessment Team (IDAT).

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The Initial Damage Assessment process will require a minimum of 700 persons, including assessors and supervisors, to provide island-wide coverage. These will be drawn from several government agencies and NGOs.

Roles and Responsibilities of the IDAT

To collect data on damage to buildings, other assets and infrastructure according to the agreed methodology.

Ensure that the data is passed on to the Chairperson of the Damage Assessment and Statistics Committee for analysis.

The information from the IDAT will be used by the EOC to:

  • Quantify the extent of the damage and loss
  • Estimate humanitarian needs
  • Determine the need for a detailed damage assessment.
  • Determine the priority needs as a result of the event.
  • Determine what types of short-term assistance needs are to be provided.
  • Prepare an initial estimate of the cost of the event.

DA zone structure

Damage Assessment officers will be allocated to Focal Points (FPs) located in each parish of the island. These FPs will become their base of operations after a major hazard impact according to the Focal Point List.

Barbados has been divided into six zone for Damage Assessment. Previously there were five zones, but a new zone (6) including the Scotland District has been added. Each zone is managed by a Zone Manager and Assistant Zone Manager. These are experienced BSS staff members.

Map showing zones

Click on image for a larger version

Training materials

What is in the kit I receive?

Damage Assessment Kits will be supplied to all Damage Assessors conducting field operations. The Kit will consist of the following items:

  • Copies of the Damage Assessment Forms.
  • Note Pads.
  • Pencils, sharpeners and erasers.
  • Waterproof document folder.
  • Raincoat, waterproof boots.
  • A map of the Enumeration District to which the assessor is assigned, along with the description of its boundaries; or, in the case of a supervisor, a map of the supervisory area, showing features such as highways, roads, tracks, rivers, bridges, etc. These will be indicated by symbols, which will be spelt out in the Key located at the bottom left hand side of the map.
  • Identification Card will be issued to all assessors. These must be prominently displayed when conducting fieldwork.

Our new damage assessment collection tool

In addition to the traditional damage assessment paper forms, we will be moving to an open-source digital collection tool suite called KokoToolbox. KoboToolbox was developed by the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative, and has teams of developers and researchers are based in Cambridge, MA, USA, and other places around the world.

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Using KoboToolbox, data can be collected:

  • Online and Offline.
  • On phones, tablets or any browser.
  • Using KoBoCollect app on Android devices and Enketo on any modern browser.
  • With secure synchronization of data via SSL. This ensures data can't be read by a third party.
  • With strong safeguards against data loss.

Data is available to management immediately right after it is collected

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