The Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) has been integral in developing a number of programmes to strengthen the island's capacity to effectively deal with climate change.
One such project is the Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience (SPCR), which seeks to address vulnerable areas across Jamaica.
There are several components to the programme – improving climate change information and data management; mainstreaming climate change policies, plans and legislation; implementing integrated adaptation strategies in targeted river basin planning and management; and establishing financing mechanisms for climate change adaptation by the public and private sectors, and community-based organizations.
Sustainable Development Manager at the PIOJ, Hopeton Peterson, tells JIS News that the SPCR was developed to complement other existing climate change programmes and projects, in an effort to reduce vulnerability and increase resilience islandwide.
He explains that the programme is designed within the context of Vision 2030, which states that Jamaica should develop climate adaptation strategies, and address issues related to disaster risk reduction within the specified period and beyond.
Vision 2030 Jamaica is the country’s first long-term national development plan, which aims at enabling Jamaica to achieve developed country status by 2030. It is based on a comprehensive vision: “Jamaica, the place of choice to live, work, raise families and do business."
Mr. Peterson says Jamaica has been severely affected by a series of natural hazards over the past 10 years, resulting in damage amounting to approximately $111 billion.
"The impact of these disasters is very devastating to our economy, society and environment. Our tourism, education and agricultural sectors, on which we depend heavily for foreign exchange and livelihood have been particularly hard hit,” he points out.
Mr. Peterson informs that the SPCR aims to alleviate some of the problems associated with climate change, to lessen further damage to the economy.
He argues that funds that would normally be used to address the damage and losses caused by natural hazards, can be used to build and upgrade schools and hospitals across the island.
Mr. Peterson says one component of the programme is community based, and will benefit some communities in the Rio Minho and Rio Bueno watershed areas.
"We are going to be applying a number of resilience strategies in various communities which cut across segments of Northern Manchester, Southern St. Ann, Trelawny, and Clarendon,” he notes.
Mr. Peterson tells JIS News that non-governmental organisations (NGOs), such as the Portland and St. Thomas Environmental Protection Agencies, have been working closely with some of the affected communities, in an effort to come up with long term solutions to combat climate change.
“These NGOs have been active in identifying some of the problems that we are currently facing, as a result of climate change. They are knowledgeable about some of the solutions and adaptation strategies to tackle climate change,” he points out.
He says that other organisations, including the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health, the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), and the Meteorological Service, have been playing an active role regarding the project.
Mr. Peterson cites the establishment of a Trust Fund to generate resources from Community Based Organisations (CBOs), to support the programme at the community level. “Invariably, NGOs will also be working with CBOs to identify strategies that can be implemented to address climate change,” he adds.
He informs that the NGOs will be mobilising vulnerable communities that are likely to be affected by climate change, and will be interacting with community members, to obtain feedback, based on the programme
In addition, he says that the Water Resources Authority (WRA) will be focusing on artificial water recharge, which is to be implemented as part of the programme. “The idea is to return excess water to aquifers (natural underground storage), to lessen the effects of droughts and floods,” he adds.
He tells JIS News that the Meteorological Service will also be installing several automatic weather stations, as part of the programme.
“These weather stations will be placed in remote locations, to collect data in relation to rainfall and temperature. The information received from these stations will be transmitted to the meteorological office to improve our response to floods,” he informs.
The SPCR is being implemented in tandem with the Climate Change Adaptation and Disaster Risk Reduction Project, and is being funded by the Climate Investment Fund (CIF), at a cost of US$25 million.
By Jeneva Gordon, JIS PRO