In its 2021 Groundswell report, The World Bank estimates that climate change could force 216 million people to migrate to different areas within their own country by 2050 while an Institute for Economics and Peace think tank estimates 1 billion people can be displaced by that time.
Though the exact number of climate migrants may be uncertain at this point, leading global organisations have recognised the effects of climate change as a catalyst for humanitarian disasters which can trigger a global migration crisis.
As a Small Island Developing State, Trinidad and Tobago isn’t immune to climate migration and citizens should be aware that it is already a reality that some face.
In 2022, one Eccles Village resident decided to leave the community altogether as he found it was no longer possible to sustain a good quality of life given the community’s frequent flooding.
While Eccles Village is known for its lush greenery and hospitality, the community has also become synonymous with devastating floods overtime.
With the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) warning that climate change will continue to exacerbate the intensity of floods across Trinidad and Tobago in the wet season, villagers are bracing themselves to cope with more floods.
But Daveanad Lutchman is one of a handful of residents who have already made the difficult decision to walk away from the community they loved in recent years.
A teacher, Lutchman told Cari-Bois the community is no stranger to flooding but they have gotten worse in recent years.
Though Lutchman and other villagers coped with the regular floods by moving their belongings to higher grounds, he reached his “final straw” in November 2022 when his house was severely damaged – and all his appliances were washed away – during a flood.
His two pet dogs were also killed in the incident.
Compounding the problem is the fact that Lutchman’s house was near a slope which is experiencing a landslip that has threatened the stability of the land on which his former home stood and the structural integrity of the house.
After already incurring financial losses in previous years, he decided the situation was no longer sustainable and now lives in Port of Spain.
While Lutchman is wishing the people he left in Eccles Village the best, he wants them to create a comprehensive plan to navigate the situation to avoid further financial losses or even loss of life.