Tue | Nov 13, 2018

Where's the real drought plan?

Published:Tuesday | July 22, 2014 | 12:00 AM


I am certain of having heard a recent CVM TV weather report (during the World Cup period) that because of El Nino conditions in the Pacific, the Caribbean will not be getting any rain before December! There will be no rain this October (not a drop), and no hurricanes in the region.

In my reckoning, this is nothing short of disaster. Knowing how dependent we are on rain for our water sources (rivers, underground aquifers, catchment systems), this could mean famine by the time we get to December.

Since then, I have been expecting a roll-out of public-education initiatives to prepare us for this disaster of drought. I heard an announcement at church Sunday concerning hurricane preparedness! Articles in the newspaper report people pining and hoping for rain. Did anybody else hear the aforementioned weather report?

Furthermore, being a scientific report, I am concerned about plans reported for combating the problem to date. I hear of 'water-source diversion', trucking water to farms, extra conservation methods, rainwater harvesting - all having to do with our current reserves, or taking a risk to make rain.

I hear nothing of seeking additional sources of water, such as desalination of seawater or to make an appeal for humanitarian aid (or to buy if we must) to countries with surplus water. Of grave concern is the agricultural sector - we barely have enough for domestic use, do we have enough to sustain crops and livestock beyond October? How will small farmers and market vendors survive?

I'd like to know what is the minimum frequency and quantity of (reused) water required to save my mango tree? What could be the impact on dairy industries, too? Supply of fresh vegetables has already begun to wane. Should we wait until there are no fresh fruits and vegetables, then we import in tons and resell at prices the poor can't afford? Would it be cheaper to import water now and save our agriculture, than to import food later?

Is the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management and the Ministry of Water working on this? Do they have other information contrary to that ominous weather report, or do they have more knowledge that, if shared, would allay my level of concern? If this is a new global climate-change feature, what are we doing to rapidly diversify our water sources?

I am not looking for rain but listening out for the plan.