PIOJ at Halfway Point in Phase Two of Climate Change Project

Photo: Mark Bell Manager for Sustainable Development and Regional Planning, Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), Hopeton Peterson.

Story Highlights

  • The PIOJ is currently midway through implementing Phase II of a US$25m Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience (SPCR).
  • Implementation of the SPCR is consistent with the government’s 2013/14 job creation and economic growth strategic priority.
  • Implementation of the SPCR project is expected to span four years.

The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is currently midway through implementing Phase II of a US$25 million Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience (SPCR).

The programme, being implemented as a pilot (Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR), aims to boost government-led efforts to strengthen Jamaica’s ability to withstand the often damaging effects of risks associated with climate-related occurrences such as hurricanes, storms, and droughts, on the island’s infrastructure and other assets, and the resulting costs.

The SPCR is expected to demonstrate the measures to achieve these strengthened capacities and how they can be incorporated into the implementation of core development policies and planning.

Implementation of the SPCR is consistent with the government’s 2013/14 job creation and economic growth strategic priority, focusing on facilitating protection of the natural environment.

The PPCR/SCPR’s roll out is deemed timely as Jamaica has, over time, sustained significant dislocation due to the impact of climate-related hazards. This has been most evident over the last 12 years, during which the island incurred damage and losses, estimated at some $150 billion, resulting from the passage of some 11 storms or hurricanes.

Frequent extreme, unusual, and irregular weather patterns associated with climate change, have been attributed to global warming. The latter occurrence is defined as a rise in the average atmospheric or oceanic temperature resulting from increased presence of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide.

This, to a great extent, is caused by activities such as the burning of fossil fuels, like petroleum products, and deforestation. Research determines that these factors influence weather patterns resulting in hurricanes, storms, heavy rainfall or even drought. In several instances, countries are also under the threat of rising sea levels.

When activities such as inappropriate farming practices and construction, particularly of houses in areas not deemed ideal for this undertaking, are factored in, they can and often lead to devastating occurrences such as flooding and landslides or slippages.

In recognition of the long-term risks these pose for Jamaica, government-led efforts are being undertaken to strengthen the country’s ability to, as best as possible, withstand the effects of these situations. These include implementation of the PPCR/SPCR.

Jamaica is one of six Caribbean countries invited by a regional PPCR/SPCR sub-committee to participate in the undertaking. The committee comprises representatives of the project’s main multilateral funding partners – the World Bank and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

They are financing the undertaking through a Climate Investment Fund (CIF) facility, established for this purpose. The other countries involved are: Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Lucia, Dominica, and Haiti.

Jamaica’s programme is being financed at a cost of US$25 million by the World Bank and IDB, comprising US$15 million in grant funding, and a US$10 million concessionary loan.

Manager for Sustainable Development and Regional Planning at the PIOJ, Hopeton Peterson, tells JIS News that the PPCR/SPCR is being implemented in two phases. The first, he informs, entailed design development for and preparation of three investment projects, as well as several scheduled technical studies being undertaken to support climate change adaptation in Jamaica.

He explains that Investment Project I (IP I), for which US6.8 million in grant funding was allocated, deals with improving climate data and information management, which he describes as “very important” because “we need data to facilitate good planning.”

Investment Project II (IP II), funded through a US$7.7 million grant, relates to the application of adaptation measures in a specified watershed identified, in this case, the Rio Minho River basin and watershed in Clarendon.

Mr. Peterson informs that a loan of US$3.6 million is being also been allocated for this component to boost the National Meteorological Service’s operational capacity, which entailed, among other things, acquisition of a radar.

A total of US$6.4 million in loan funds was earmarked for Investment Project III (IP III) which he says, will finance adaptation initiatives for community-based organizations, and micro, small and medium size enterprises (MSMEs).

Phase II of the PPCR/SPCR, Mr Peterson outlines will entail implementation of the activities to be undertaken during the latter part of the 2013/14 financial year.

Mr. Peterson points to several benefits, which will arise from this undertaking. The technical reports, he explains, will assist national efforts in mainstreaming climate change in priority sectors, such as tourism, agriculture, and water resources, among others, and support the design of attendant adaptation measures.

Additionally, the studies will help to build and strengthen sectoral capacity for planning and forecasting, as well as support climate change education and awareness.

“The direct beneficiary is the country, because the entire population will be impacted by whatever decisions are made with the use of these data,” he outlines.

For the second project, Mr. Peterson says residents of communities, especially farmers in the Upper Rio Minho watershed area, will benefit. Other beneficiary districts include Bog Hole, Kellits, and adjoining areas.

He explains that the Rio Minho was selected as a pilot, primarily because “it is one of the most highly degraded watersheds in Jamaica.” This has been attributed mainly to factors such as improper land use, less than ideal cultivation practices, and deforestation.

“It’s a farming area and most vulnerable to the effects of both climate change and climate variability. One of the critical issues relates to water adequacy to do their farming; so the project is also looking at ways of improving water storage for these communities to better deal with (factors such as) drought,” he informs.

Mr. Peterson points out that the project’s implementation is “based on community participation”. He says prior to commencing the project design, PIOJ representatives visited targeted communities to find out how climate change/variations were affecting the residents and the solutions they have been exploring for implementation.

“We made some proposals; but communities also came forward with ideas and strategies of their own. Some of the things that they are doing include planting crops that are more resistant to drought, and storing water, using tanks. They are also changing their planting periods to fit with the changes in rainfall cycle, for example. These are some of the practical measures that they have been putting in place,” he discloses.

Having completed work in phase one of the PPCR/SPCR, Mr. Peterson advises that a project report and proposals are being prepared for submission to the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) for their consideration.

In addition to the initial amount allocated in the SPCR, Jamaica has received a further US$5 million in grant funding through the Climate Investments Fund (CIF) to continue the project undertaking.

“It (submission) will go through their (IDB) approval process; therefore, once it is approved, we will have disbursement of funds and we can then start with the implementation, which we anticipate will start in 2014,” Mr. Peterson informs.

Implementation of the SPCR project, he tells JIS News, is expected to span four years, adding that once the projects are successfully executed, “we would have partially achieved our objectives as the real test is to see whether or not the activities can be sustained.”

“We expect to have climate change mainstreamed in government and private sector operations and anticipate, as well, that we would have some adaptation strategies in the Rio Minho watershed. We also anticipate that we would have the climate resilience of communities strengthened by implementing climate change adaptation projects, and also MSMEs strengthened and becoming more resilient to climate change,” Mr. Peterson informs.

He points out that once these targets have been attained and the strengths and weaknesses assessed to determine which project(s) can be implemented elsewhere, then, “we would move onto doing that.”

“We have sustainability measures built into the programme. So if the projects are successfully implemented, then we look to scale those up, in which case we would need to get additional funding. So we would have to try and leverage additional funds to continue the implementation of the successful activities,” Mr. Peterson adds.

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