JIS News

The devastating 2004 Caribbean hurricane season, the catastrophic tsunami in South Asia and the destructive effects of Hurricane Katrina, will provide the backdrop for the meeting of Caribbean countries benefiting under the Mainstreaming Adaptation to Climate Change Project, in St. Lucia early next month.
Basil Fernandez, Managing Director of the Water Resources Authority, said that at the meeting, the region would be lobbying for additional programmes to help countries adapt to climate change, which was characterized by warmer temperatures and rising sea levels and have intensified extreme weather events such as floods and hurricanes.
Mr. Fernandez, who was addressing yesterday’s (Sept.28) JIS Think Tank, noted that adaptation was the only strategy to deal with changes in climate. In 2003 the World Bank approved implementation of the project, which provides assistance to a number of small-island and low-lying states. It is being financed through a US$5 million grant from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
In addition to Jamaica, the beneficiary countries are Antigua & Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent & the Grenadines, Trinidad & Tobago.
Meanwhile, Mr. Fernandez said that the implications of climate change for the region and Jamaica in particular were astounding and would affect natural ecosystems and man-made infrastructure.
Citing the fast shrinking Arctic ice, which scientists estimate could disappear in about 80 years, the WRA head said, “that means that all that water is going to be discharged in the sea and therefore sea levels will have to rise making it something that we have to look very closely at in the Caribbean.”
He added, “we are very susceptible to climate change in the Caribbean islands.it therefore means that we need to be thoroughly analyzing and assessing these latest developments.”
He noted that as part of the region’s response to the problem, Caribbean and the South Pacific countries (SOUPAC) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in Japan in 2003 to look at how countries could merge their work in integrated water resources management to monitor sea level rises and climate change and variability.
The MOU came against the background of findings, which suggested that the Caribbean islands would possibly be affected by changes in patterns of natural climate variability such as El Nino; changes in the frequency, intensity, and tracks of tropical storms and hurricanes; and changes in ocean currents. Mr. Fernandez noted that while current data did not show a change in climate, “there is most definitely, variability in climate.”
He stated further that, “right now, we do have problems in several of the South Pacific countries as sea level is rising there,” adding that, there were cases where countries were now experiencing high tide covering their main streets while in previous years, this was not the case.
He cited recent incidents in the Bog Walk gorge, where flooding occurred rendering the road impassable. “In Christmas, the Bog Walk gorge was flooded but the rainfall that flooded the gorge has never flooded the gorge before,” Mr. Fernandez said.