OECS hosts drought management workshop

OECS hosts drought management workshop

OECS Commission, Castries, St. Lucia January 26th, 2016 –The Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission’s USAID funded Reducing the Risks to Human and Natural Assets Resulting from Climate Change (RRACC) Project in collaboration with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH) and the National Drought Mitigation Centre (NDMC) out of the University of Nebraska Lincoln is hosting a 4-day national training workshop on the Development of National Drought Management Policies and National Drought Early Warning Information Systems.

This workshop is a part of a regional activity which entails 3 national workshops, the first currently being held in Saint Lucia. Subsequent workshops will be held in Antigua and Saint Kitts and Nevis in February and March respectively.

Saint Lucia’s workshop is currently underway at the Coco Palm hotel and will run from January 26 – 29, 2016.

Droughts are a naturally occurring hazard which can be described as slow onset, creeping phenomena that have widespread effects. Increasingly, frequent and extreme droughts are becoming a feature of Caribbean weather, notwithstanding greater periods of heavier precipitation.

The impacts of such drought conditions will increase heat stress, particularly for the more vulnerable such as the elderly and will worsen sanitation conditions from reduced water supplies.

Too much water or too little can be devastating to the health of populations and provide favorable conditions for the spread of water or vector borne diseases such as Malaria, Dengue Fever, Chikungunya, Zika, Cholera, Leptospirosis and others.

Public health systems are hardly able to handle current situations under normal conditions.

Water is already in short supply in many islands, because those that are drought-prone rely heavily on rainwater from small catchments or limited fresh water sources.

The Caribbean can account for 7 of the world’s top 36 water stressed countries, all with the highest possible water stress scores according to the World Resources Institute.

Further, the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) defines countries like Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis as water scarce with less than 1000m3 freshwater resources per capita, with Barbados being in the top 10.

In light of this, development of policies, strategies and plans to mitigate the impacts of drought, which scientists have suggested, will increasingly become critical in the Caribbean. These will compliment monitoring at the national level, as well as outline roles and responsibilities that would enhance the resilience to drought events.

As the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology & Hydrology (CIMH) continues to build capacity in meteorological and water management services particularly in drought monitoring, this series of Drought Training Workshops will seek to build regional capacity and support drafting of National Drought Implementation Plans that support drought early warning.

The OECS RRACC Project is funding the drought training workshops in collaboration with CIMH and the NDMC who are delivering the training.

At the end of the workshop participants are expected to be:

* Trained in the interpretation of drought monitoring and forecasting products disseminated by the CIMH, National Meteorological Services and their national partners;

* Exposed to drought planning and policy making;

* Trained in writing drought policies and provided with an understanding of what is needed for the development of National Drought Policies and National Drought Early Warning Information Systems (DEWIS) to guide how drought resilience will be built and how impacts can be mitigated in OECS Member States; and

* Trained in preparing for and writing the Drought Early Warning Information System

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