Working Paper
Natural Disasters and Remittances

Exploring the Linkages between Poverty, Gender, and Disaster Vulnerability in Caribbean SIDS

This paper explores the linkages between poverty and disaster vulnerability in the context of remittance flows to households in the Caribbean. Jamaica is used as the case study country. The paper discusses the channels through which natural disasters and remittances affect each other but also reviews the distribution of female-headed households in Jamaica as a percentage of households living below the poverty line and seeks to identify whether flows of remittances alleviate the post-disaster living conditions of such households. The dislocation of households coupled with the loss of livelihoods caused by natural disaster, which usually affects the poor disproportionately, provides a push factor for migration and future remittances. After hurricane Gilbert in Jamaica (1988) there was an increase in migration. At the same time, there is an increased flow of remittances to help alleviate some of the suffering in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The paper concludes that given the increase in remittances to Jamaica, this flow of income could be used to smooth out the consumption patterns of already vulnerable, female-headed households living in poverty.