Natural Hazards

, Volume 81, Issue 2, pp 1349–1372 | Cite as

Knowledge, attitude and practices of coastal communities in Trinidad and Tobago about tsunamis

  • La Daana K. Kanhai
  • Delezia Singh
  • Bruce Lauckner
  • Kristie L. Ebi
  • Dave D. Chadee
Original Paper


Tsunamis are natural hazards that have affected the Caribbean in the past and are projected to do so in the future. In order to mitigate the devastating impacts of tsunamis, awareness and preparedness is critical amongst local populations. This study investigated the knowledge, attitude and practices of coastal residents in one Caribbean country (Trinidad and Tobago) about tsunamis. Fifty residents were interviewed in each of three coastal communities in Trinidad and four coastal communities in Tobago. Interviewees generally lacked basic tsunami awareness (<20 % were fully aware of a basic definition of a tsunami, only 57 % indicated that natural signs in the environment could be used to foretell a tsunami’s arrival, and 92 % were unaware of past tsunamis in the Caribbean). Interviewees possessed an attitude that was consistent with the popular saying/perception that ‘God is a Trini’ as (1) 46 % indicated that there was no or very little likelihood that Trinidad and Tobago would be hit by a tsunami in the next 10 years and (2) 57 % indicated that if a tsunami were to occur God will be the entity most likely to prevent the loss of life. There was a lack of tsunami preparedness by individuals as 93 % of the interviewees did not have an emergency plan for a tsunami. Overall, 85 % of the interviewees indicated that public education programmes about tsunamis had never been conducted in their community. Baseline data from this study will be useful in (1) evaluating the effectiveness of current tsunami awareness and preparedness efforts and (2) informing the implementation of new programmes which target existing knowledge gaps. Furthermore, it is envisioned that this study will also provide the necessary foundation for future KAP studies about tsunamis in other Caribbean islands.


Tsunami Disasters Knowledge Attitude Practice Trinidad Tobago 



This study was unfunded and was possible as a result of the efforts of volunteers. The corresponding author would like to acknowledge the following persons for their invaluable assistance with this study: Hamish Asmath, Bhardoe Kanhai, Kishore Boodram, Shamirah Hosein, Ish Bissun, Jeniece Germain, Sherazade Ali, Kewley Khalawan-Kanhai, Kieara Kanhai, Neema Ramlogan.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

11069_2015_2138_MOESM1_ESM.docx (27 kb)
Supplementary Material 1 KAP Questionnaire utilised in this study (DOCX 26 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Marine and Freshwater Research CentreGalway Mayo Institute of TechnologyGalwayIreland
  2. 2.Department of Life SciencesThe University of the West IndiesSt. AugustineTrinidad and Tobago
  3. 3.Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI)c/o The University of the West IndiesSt. AugustineTrinidad and Tobago
  4. 4.Department of Global Health, School of Public HealthUniversity of WashingtonSeattleUSA

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