Wednesday, 4 June 2014

More needs to be done regarding drought impact

 Executive Director of the Caribbean
Disaster Emergency Management Agency
(CDEMA), Ronald Jackson.

Countries in the region are still not doing enough when it comes to calculating and tracking the impact of drought and dry season on their respective economies.

This was expressed by the Executive Director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson during the Agency’s annual press conference, on Monday.

He acknowledged that at least four of CDEMA’s participating states – Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago initiated water rationing programmes as a coping strategy; with St. Lucia declaring a water emergency.

“Whilst we have not yet received the cost of the drought or the cost of the dry season impact of the countries of the region – as I can imagine, they are still in the midst of trying to calculate and tally the impact of the drought events, some of which are still facing those dry conditions,” he said, also pointing out that countries did not call upon CDEMA to initiate any support to them in the face of this challenge.

“It is one of those areas that I think we need to be able to capture, when we look at our various macroeconomic pictures. It is impacting us significantly when you look at season over season, and the impact on specific industries such as agriculture, and even increased cost to provide water supply to tourism and health,” he explained.

The Executive Director further indicated that the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology and CDEMA are working together to strengthen drought management programmes within the various countries.

“With their input – the research that they are currently conducting understand longer-term forecast for drought within the region, thereby improving and enhancing planning. Hopefully this will help the countries to better budget for, and plan for the dry season when it comes along,” it was further pointed out.

“As we move into the rainy season we must be mindful of the conditions created by the drought. The surface areas are now quite dry and compacted and ideal for rapid run-off, which typically can result in flash flooding. We are therefore urging the public across the region to be aware of this risk and to take the necessary precaution to reduce the effects that are likely, should it occur,” he stressed. (TL)

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