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TTC Special: Caribbean fight against droughts

TTC Special: Caribbean fight against droughts
By F.Martin

TTC Service.- Climate change has forced the Caribbean, and its crucial tourism industry, to monitor hurricanes more closely.

Today the islands are watching with almost the same concern the droughts a less violent phenomenon that kills slowly.

The Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CDPMN) says concerns exist for both long – and short-term drought over the Guianas, in particular northern Suriname. “With Cuba and Antigua being relatively dry over the past few months, water resources should be monitored for long-term drought that can affect groundwater and large catchments, up until the end of the dry season at least,” the CPDMN said in its April bulletin.

According to the report water resources in Belize, particularly the north and south-east of the country, should also be monitored over the possibility of developing drought.

Nevertheless the network observed with more optimism that copious rainfall during the wet season of 2017 and no large deficits having been built up since the start of the Caribbean dry season in most places, the CDPMN said.

According to the network mixed conditions were experienced in the islands of the eastern Caribbean for the month of February. It said Trinidad was slightly dry to slightly wet, with Tobago and St Lucia slight to moderately wet, while Grenada was extremely wet and Barbados very wet.

Barbados despite the best forecast, does not waste time and is already implementing a program that can be an example in the Caribbean.

The project promises a new water future for Barbadians by increasing the awareness of islanders to the water cycle and the likely impacts of climate change on the island’s drinking water supply.

The Water Sector Resilience Nexus for Sustainability Project for Barbados (WSRN S-Barbados) is expected to build resilience in the sector by reducing the vulnerability to severe weather impacts, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reduce consumption, promote appropriate uses of diverse water sources and build the legislative safeguards to support climate smart development in water sector.

In Cuba the National Institute of Water Resources applied since last year actions to combat and reduce the severity of the drought situation. Emergency measures adopted include linking water distribution systems in order to redirect water to depleted zones.

However, the awareness of climate change in the Caribbean and the measures that are already taken more quickly are only recent.

For example in 2013 Jamaica’s Meteorological Service made its first official drought forecast when the newly developed Climate Predictability Tool (CPT) was used to predict a high probability of below average rainfall in the coming three months.

By February, the agency had officially declared a drought in the eastern and central parishes of the island based on the forecasts.

Droughts are not only a Tourism Industry problems. Jamaica’s agricultural sector accounts for roughly seven per cent of the island’s gross domestic product (GDP) and employs about 20 per cent of its workforce.

The FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean warned the islands already in 2016 that climate change is expected to increase the intensity and frequency of droughts in the Caribbean, so countries must enhance their capabilities to deal with this and other climate related challenges to ensure food security and hunger eradication.

The region already experiences drought-like events every year, often with low water availability impacting agriculture and water resources, and a significant number of bush fires.