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Saint Kitts and Nevis

The twin island Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis consists of two islands located in the northern part of the Lesser Antilles chain of islands in the Eastern Caribbean. St. Kitts is located at latitude 170 15' north and longitude 62045' west and Nevis is located two miles (3 km) to the south-east, at 170 10' north and longitude 62035' west. The larger of the two islands, St. Kitts is 176 sq. km. (68 sq. mi.) in area. It is approximately 36.8 km (23 mi) long and is roughly oval in shape with a narrow neck of land extending like a handle from the southeastern end. Nevis has an area of 93 sq. km. (36 sq. mi), with a length of 12.3 km (7.64 mi) and a width of 9.6 km (5.96 mi) at its widest point.

The islands are the summits of a submerged mountain range along the eastern boundary of the Caribbean Tectonic Plate (MOE, 2000). Although once reliant on sugar monoculture, this industry was closed in 2005. The islands still carry on small scale production of crops, including rice, yams, bananas and cotton, but its present economy is based primarily on tourism (USDS, 2010). The majority of the islands’ inhabitants live near the coastline, as the interior tends to be extremely rugged and steep. However, pressure for agricultural land has caused small farmers to clear forested plots along slopes for farming, causing deforestation, soil erosion and water pollution (MOE, 2000). The country has a high literacy rate at 97.8 per cent and a low unemployment rate of 5.1 per cent. Per capita Gross Domestic Product in 2006 was US$8,546 (USDS, 2010).

In Saint Kitts and Nevis water resources are vulnerable to sea level rise and temperature increase leading to higher evaporation rates. Given the centrality of ground water sources to the national water supply, the problem of water resources is primarily one of keeping and protecting the underground water resources. Adaptation measures would include the following actions: Rational use of available water enforced by the national water authority; Controlled rate of pumping from aquifers; Conservation of protective forests that allows a high rate of infiltration of rainfall to the aquifers; and Protection of contamination of underground water from pollution sources - agricultural, human settlements and others. The use of measures for minimizing runoff of freshwater to the ocean environment would have to be done in agreement with the requirements of the coastal ecosystems, which thrive on definite levels of salinity and organic sediments from land areas.

Adaptation options for the tourism sector include: Developing and enforcing environmental policies and regulations (including building regulations) for tourism activities that take into account the issues of sea level rise and climate change; Ensuring that the risks associated with sea level rise (coastal flooding, increased action of waves and coastal erosion, enhanced storm surges and rising water tables) are taken into consideration in the building and development of new tourism resorts; Redirecting tourism from activities that adversely impact on natural fragile ecosystems, toward more societal activities of historical, traditional and cultural nature that will not be associated with climate change issues.