Urgent action needed to mitigate landslides and flooding
While average rainfall is expected to ease the drought across the Caribbean later this year, experts are warning that areas which experienced long-term dryness will be more susceptible to hazards such as landslides and flash floods. Last year, Jamaica experienced what was considered one of the worst droughts in five years. This resulted in severe water woes in many communities across Jamaica, particularly the Corporate Area.
Adrian Trotman, chief of applied meteorology and climatology at the Caribbean Institute of Meteorology and Hydrology, who was addressing journalists at a press conference in Barbados, advised that countries across the region should prepare for extreme wet conditions.
"The dry conditions will continue up to maybe April or May, however, on the other hand, the most recent information is suggesting that what is taking place in the Pacific, as we speak, will result in a reverse of conditions as we enter into the hurricane season," Trotman said.
"As the El NiÒo weakens, the La NiÒa should build and develop hurricanes over the 2016 period. We suggest that you listen to the updates because the reverse from dry to wet is a real one," the climate expert advised.
It is with this in mind that Ronald Jackson, executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, urged the Government of Jamaica, in particular, to quickly build on its mitigation strategies and prepare in advance.
"Many of the member states, Jamaica included, are in locations that you have to pay attention to by virtue of their topography and other environmental factors," he told The Gleaner.
"I think we have to look at the necessity of management plans. You have to develop management strategies that speak to how you will deal with these specific situations. I think this information has come at a critical time, not only for the meteorologists, but also for the planners and sector leaders to plan ahead," he continued.
Jackson said, "We will have to look at the vulnerable areas and the communities that are of greatest concern and begin to strategise. Looking at the short, medium and the long terms will be of greatest importance."