Environment and development
in coastal regions and in small islands
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Spanish version

Field Project Assessment
Socio-economic and environmental evaluation and management of the south coast of Havana Province, Cuba

Date of
Site visit: 8-11th May, 2001.
Assessment completed: 1st September, 2001.
conducted by

Gillian Cambers, UNESCO consultant, Dirk Troost, Chief UNESCO/CSI, (not closely associated with the project); Antonio Diaz Tablada, Provincial Directorate of Physical Planning of Havana Province, (field-project leader), Frank Ortiz, UNESCO Havana Office (closely associated with the project).

  1. Evaluación y Manejo Socio-económico Ambiental de la Zona Sur de La Habana.  Diagnóstico Preliminar.

  2. Evaluación y Manejo Socio-económico Ambiental de la Zona Sur de La Habana.  Diagnóstico de la Situación Actual.

  3. Reubicación de la Communidad Playa Rosario.  Proyecto de Erradicación de Condiciones Precarias de 100 Viviendas en la Communidad de Playa Rosario. Resumen.

  4. Tercer Concurso de Buenas Prácticas para la Mejora de las Condiciones de Vida DUBAI 2001.  Hacia un Desarrollo Sostenible de una Zona Costera Bajo el Impacto de la Variabilidad y el Cambio Climático.

  5. Socio-economic Environmental Evaluation and Management of the South Zone of Havana Province, Cuba. Bremen Partnership Award.

  6. Resumen del Proyecto Piloto. Problemática de la Población y los Asentamientos Humanos en la Zona Costera Sur de La Habana, Cuba.

  7. Pilot Project Summary.  Planning for people and human settlements in the southern coastal area of Havana Province, Cuba.

  8. Investigación Sociológica.  Zona de Máxima Influencia del Dique Sur en la Provincia La Habana.

  9. Video: Tras las Huellas de Irene y Entrevista para la Televisión Cubana.

  10. Informe de Trabajo del Año 2000.

  11. El Sistema de Defensa Civil en la República de Cuba.  Manejo de Emergencia por Inundaciones Costeras.

  12. Acuerdo No. 72/98 del C.A.P., sobre Politícas Territoriales para el Ordenamiento Físico Provincial hasta el año 2005.

  13. Acuerdo No. 143/98 del C.A.P., sobre Regulaciones Territoriales de la Franja Costera Comprendida entre la Línea de Costa y la Cota de 1 metro s.n.m. de la Costa Sur de la Provincia de La Habana.

  14. Field project summary.  


A visit was made to Havana Province (Cambers/Troost), 7-12th May, 2001, who together with Mr. Ortiz and Mr. Diaz Tablada, as well as Ms. Elsa Mato, Director of the Provincial Directorate of Physical Planning of Havana Province (DPPF), and Ms. Fara Carreras (DPPF), and several other persons involved in the project, had several meetings and field visits as follows:

8th May

  • Meeting with the Cuba National Commission for UNESCO;

  • Meeting at the Consejo de la Administración Provincial de la Habana with persons involved in the project and presentation by the Provincial Directorate of Physical Planning of Havana Province;

  • Meeting with Ministerio de Ciencia, Tecnología y Medio Ambiente (CITMA) of Havana Province;

  • Meeting with the Institute of Physical Planning.

9th May
  • Meeting with Mr. Luis Mesa, President of the Güines Municipal Council and other officials;

  • Visit to Playa Rosario;

  • Meeting with Ms. Madelín Cuña, Vice-president of the Municipal Assembly of Melena del Sur and officials of the municipality;

  • Visit to Playa Mayabeque.

10th May
  • Meeting with Mr. Roberto Viera, President of the Municipality of Güira de Melena and other officials;

  • Visit to Playa Cajío;

  • Meeting with Mr. Idalberto Lugo, President of the Municipality of  Batabanó and other officials;

  • Meeting with officials from the fishing company at Batabanó (PESCABAT);

  • Visit to the beach at Batabanó.

11th May
  • Concluding meeting with Ms. Miriam Brito, President of the South Coast Commission, and representatives from DPPF, CITMA, the Institute of Oceanography and members of the press.
Following the assessment visit, there were detailed discussions between the four persons involved in the assessment through meetings and e-mail.
Constraints: There were no constraints, all arrangements for the assessment visit were excellent.

Field Project Assessment

This project started in 1999 and has made excellent progress. The following assessment discusses the project activities to date in terms of several long-term parameters or characteristics of ‘wise practices’.  Inevitably, projects still in an early phase, cannot be expected to fulfil all these characteristics completely.

The sixteen characteristics, used to define ‘wise practices’, are used here to assess this field project.  A qualitative scale is used as follows:

None  (0): The field project activities to date do not comply with this characteristic and/or the characteristic is not relevant.
Slightly (1-3): The field project activities to date have begun in some preliminary way to satisfy  this characteristic.
Partially (4-6): The field project activities to date have gone some significant way towards fulfilling this characteristic.
Fully (7-9): The field project activities to date have gone the full way to complying with  this characteristic.  

This assessment is based only on the activities undertaken to date, and does not include those planned for the future.  

Have the project activities ensured long term benefit?  

Partially (5)

Despite the fact that the project is still in an early phase, some tangible long-term benefits are already evident.  In particular a proposal has been prepared and submitted for funding to relocate the residents of Playa Rosario to a site 5 km inland at Juan Borrell, where they will not have to be evacuated from their homes several times a year to escape flooding and inundation by the sea.  (21 families have already been relocated).  The fact that the Provincial Directorate of Physical Planning of Havana Province is now working closer with other institutions, including the Oceanography Institute, also points to the project’s long-term benefit.  Furthermore the preparation of the diagnostic assessment and the detailed plans of four of the settlements have helped prepare the groundwork for integrated actions in the future.

Do the project activities provide for capacity building and institutional strengthening?

Partially (5)

The project activities are contributing significantly to capacity building.  The project has helped to change the ‘thinking’ of people working in Physical Planning and Municipal Government, such that now persons work together as a team and ‘talk the same language’ as compared with the situation three years ago.  This is further enforced by the interaction between the Provincial Directorate of Physical Planning and other agencies dealing with hydrology, fisheries and oceanography.  The project activities have also contributed to institutional strengthening by providing equipment (computers, plotter, digital camera, air conditioning) which have facilitated the introduction and use of a Geographical Information System (GIS).
Are the project activities sustainable? Partially (6)
Several factors point to the sustainability of the project activities: (i) the Provincial Commission for the South Coast of Havana Province is a permanent institution created in 1998. It is multi-disciplinary and its members include representatives from the municipalities, provincial agencies and the media.  One of its main priorities is to implement an action plan to mitigate the coastal erosion; (ii) the development of a team approach at the Provincial Directorate of Physical Planning of Havana Province and the fact that the Director of the Directorate, Ms. Elsa Mato, emphasised that the project will continue even though the project leader will be away for a year; (iii) the increasing collaboration between the Provincial Directorate of Physical Planning and other agencies.
Have the project activities been transferred?

Partially (4)

Due to the preliminary nature of the project, the activities have not yet been transferred to other sites within Cuba or beyond.  However, transferability of wise practices is already being considered, as was mentioned by the team in relation to proposed solutions for coastal flooding at Playa Rosario and Playa Mayabeque.
Are the project activities interdisciplinary and intersectoral?

Partially (5)

While considerable efforts are being made to include all relevant disciplines, more needs to be done, especially to fully include marine resources.  Similarly, further work is needed to include all societal sectors.
Do the project activities incorporate participatory processes?

Partially (5)

It is difficult to provide an overall view of this characteristic because each municipality is a small project in itself.  At Playa Rosario, the population was fully involved in the decision to relocate further inland through meetings and contacts with their representative in the Municipal Assembly.  At Playa Mayabeque, action on the ground started with a community leader taking the initiative to construct groynes to retain the sand.
Do the project activities provide for consensus building?

Fully (7)

Because of the way Cuban society is structured, many of the decisions are based on the development of a consensus, e.g. at Playa Rosario, most of the people agreed that relocation was the best action to take, although there were a few dissenters.
Do the project activities include an effective and efficient communication process?

Partially (5)

While the television, radio and press have been involved in information dissemination, and there has been dialogue at the community level, there is still a need to make the communication process more efficient.
Are the project activities culturally respectful?

Fully (8)

As a result of the societal structure in Cuba, all project activities have fully taken into account the traditions and culture of the various stakeholder groups.
Do the project activities take into account gender and/or sensitivity issues?

Fully (7)

Gender is not a special issue in Cuba, and many technical agencies have more women in professional positions than men.  Nor is relocation particularly sensitive, since in Cuba, Government policy is for every family to have its own home.
Do the project activities strengthen local identities?

Partially (5)

The project activities have contributed to this indirectly by involving people in the municipal planning process.  However, local identity is not as strong an issue as in some other countries.
Do the project activities shape national legal policy?

Partially (6)

The project activities are part of the country’s efforts to manage coastal problems in an integrated manner, in particular the Provincial Government Resolution 72 of 1998, which provides a policy for the physical planning of the coastal zone, and Resolution 143 of 1998, which provides regulations for the 1 km wide coastal strip including the seven settlements.
Do the project activities encompass the regional dimension?

Partially (6)

The project activities are particularly relevant in the context of regional programmes of action such as those associated with the Cartagena Convention; the RAMSAR Convention; the UN Assembly General Resolution 54/225, Promoting an integrated approach in the Caribbean Sea area in the context of sustainable development (22.12.99); and the issues prioritised by the Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) at Barbados + 5 (New York, 1999) – in particular (a) climate change, (b) natural and environmental disasters and climate variability, (d) coastal and marine resources.
Do the project activities provide for human rights?

Fully (7)

The project activities provide in general terms for human rights.
Have the project activities been documented?

Fully (8)

There has been excellent documentation of the project activities to date, see the listing of project documentation at the beginning of this assessment.
Have the project activities been evaluated?

None (0)

This present evaluation is the first such exercise.

Revised Future Project Activities 

  1. Complete the preparation of the plans for the seven coastal settlements and hold a provincial workshop to present the plans and to modify and approve the strategy for each coastal settlement. 

  2. Prepare a case study of the relocation of the residents from Playa Rosario to Juan Borrell: This will be a documented case study of the way in which this community is dealing with the hazard posed by coastal erosion and climate variability.  It will include the history of the community’s decision to relocate their settlement further inland, as well as a sociological survey of the community’s perception of the marine hazard and the relocation decision. This may be published on its own in the CSI info series, which may prove to be beneficial to obtaining funding for the relocation.  This case study may provide important lessons in the context of small islands in the Caribbean and beyond as other islands prepare to face up to similar hazards. 

  3. To assist the community at Playa Mayabeque in their efforts to promote beach accretion so as to protect their houses. This will involve the visit of the leader of another CSI project, COSALC[1], who has considerable experience with coastal structures, to add to the knowledge of the community and enhance their capacity to protect their beach. In the short term, the community will be able to modify the system of groynes they have already constructed so that they function more effectively, and in the medium term, a short proposal will be prepared to seek funding to make the groynes more resistant to extreme forces such as hurricanes. 

  4. To enhance the communication process by working with the Direccion Provincial de Radio to ensure the full dissemination of information relating to the project’s activities, and to provide a mechanism for obtaining the responses of community sectors to the project activities, in order to make the project fully responsive to local needs. 

  5. To translate ‘Coping with beach erosion’ into Spanish, and replace some of the photographs with equivalent pictures from Cuba, so that it can be used as local resource material. 

  6. To provide improved Internet access for the Provincial Directorate of Physical Planning of Havana Province and some of the municipalities through the provision of fax modems. 

  7. To provide at least two contributions to the ‘Wise Coastal Practices for Sustainable Human Development’ forum, at least one of which should relate to the project activities.

[1] COSALC is an old acronym for the project entitled ‘Managing beach resources and planning for coastline change, Caribbean islands

Introduction Activities Publications Search
Wise Practices Regions Themes