What can be said about risks, vulnerabilities, and adaptation to climate change in Caribbean small island developing states (SIDS)? The case of Dominica. A qualitative study

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Sarah Cooper , Christiana Abraham, Terrilia Ravaliere, Fiona Harris-Glenville , Nickez McPherson, Patrick Cloos 



Caribbean Small island developing states (SIDS) are generally qualified as disproportionately vulnerable to climate change, including extreme weather events like hurricanes. While many studies already documented the impacts of climate change on health in the wealthiest countries, there is little knowledge in this field in Caribbean SIDS. Our study aims to discuss health risks and vulnerabilities in a Caribbean context to inform future adaptation measures to climate change.


Our paper is based on a qualitative study that was conducted in Dominica, a Caribbean SIDS. The data come from semi-structured interviews organized between March 2020 and January 2021 with people internally displaced following an extreme climate event, either tropical storm Erika (2015) or Hurricane Maria (2017), and with some people who migrated to Guadeloupe after Hurricane Maria. Interview guides were based on conceptual frameworks on climate change, migration and health, and vulnerability to climate change. Data were analyzed deductively based on frameworks and inductively to allow new codes to emerge.


Our findings suggest that current knowledge of climate change by those who have been displaced by an extreme climate event varied greatly depending on the education level, class, and socioeconomic condition of the participant. Participants experienced various negative consequences from a storm or hurricane such as increased risk of relocation, lack of access to healthcare, and food, job, and water insecurities – all circumstances know to correlate with mental health issues. Participants suggested stronger dwellings, community preparedness committees to act sooner, and climate change sensitization and awareness campaigns to foster community unity and solidarity.


These findings contribute to the perspectives and knowledge of climate change, highlighting that existing extreme climate event committees and government officials need to address structural and social barriers that can potentially increase social inequalities and lead to maladaptation to climate change with potential consequences on public health.




Public Health


climate change, health, Public health, Global Health, vulnerability, adaptation, risks, Caribbean, West Indies


Published: 2023-08-02 01:22

Last Updated: 2023-08-02 08:22


CC BY Attribution 4.0 International

Additional Metadata

Data Availability (Reason not available):
The dataset for this study is not publicly available due to stipulations of ethical approval but can be made available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

Conflict of interest statement:
The authors have no competing interests to declare.