A plea is going out for Saint Lucian homeowners, businesses, and farmers to brace for further extreme drought conditions. Prime Minister, Hon. Dr. Kenny D. Anthony has pointed to data from the World Meteorological Organisation, the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, and the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, which indicate that the persistent drought that has affected the Caribbean in recent years could worsen in 2016.
In the face of the prolonged dry spell being predicted in coming months, the Prime Minister explains that whereas Government is doing its part to help ensure there is a measure of resilience, householders, employers, and agriculturists must take action to safeguard themselves.
Said Dr. Anthony:
“Extreme drought has been affecting Saint Lucia and the Caribbean for the past few years. The data show that the year 2015 was the driest on record for some forty years, and due to the relatively low levels of precipitation during the rainy season, we actually entered the dry season in a rainfall deficit. Across the region, our neighbours are facing huge reductions in their agricultural yield. This is quite alarming, and we certainly cannot ignore this phenomenon.
“This Government is taking steps to help alleviate this very serious situation. The John Compton Dam Rehabilitation, the Vieux Fort Water Supply Redevelopment, and the Dennery North Water Supply Infrastructure Project are major priorities. Once completed, these initiatives will provide relief to over 100,000 citizens, by improving the consistency and quality of the water supply to tens of thousands of homes. Government and private sector stakeholders have also undergone training in drought mitigation and management, which is important.
“But whereas these projects will reduce our vulnerability, it is still necessary for each and every one of us to do what is needful to prepare ourselves, our homes, and our places of business. The purchase and installation of water tanks to enable rainwater harvesting must become second nature for us. Our farmers have to look at planting hardier crops and improving drainage. We have to do all in our power to conserve water, and to use this precious resource wisely.”
Researchers believe the Caribbean is entering a period of extended dry periods never before seen. In January, the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission held a four-day workshop on National Drought Management Policies and National Drought Early Warning Information Systems in Saint Lucia, in collaboration with various regional and international organisations.