Sun | Sep 19, 2021

Caribbean disaster agency monitoring flood events in Ja

Published:Monday | June 19, 2017 | 12:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin
Ronald Jackson

Ronald Jackson, head of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), said that his organisation has taken on a 'monitoring' role in light of recent flood events that have severely impacted Jamaica.

The island experienced severe flooding on the weekend following sustained rainfall. It was the second event in about a month.

Major flooding was reported in sections of Clarendon, St Catherine, Manchester, Kingston and St Andrew.

Speaking with The Gleaner yesterday, Jackson made a call to Caribbean member states to adopt a more proactive approach as they deal with the changing climatic events.

"Another challenge we face in the Caribbean - and that raises concerns for the CDEMA - is the multiple impact that the states have faced. In the case of Jamaica, a number of flood events have occurred in short possible time frame. Therefore, the infrastructure, the resources, are already under strain, and so an impact will only further exacerbate that," he said.

"Jamaica has not triggered any Caribbean response, and so we have taken on a monitoring role. We would pay keen attention from the policy-advocacy side, around what may be required. All of the lessons in terms of Jamaica are known.

"The challenge is going to be how they build back an infrastructure that has been damaged, contain investment into resilient agriculture and, in particular, what the support mechanisms are for small farmers as they experience these kinds of weather extremes and climate shocks."

Proper drainage systems key to preventing excessive flooding

Ronald Jackson has joined the call for proper drainage systems, noting that their absence is a major contributor to excessive flood events.

"It's not just Jamaica; we don't have a sort of incentive-driven programme for harvesting. When you look at Barbados, almost every house that is constructed, they have to build an underground tank, something that is not done in Jamaica and many of the other Caribbean states. Now you have more precipitation that is running over land because of more construction and more urbanisation," Jackson said.

"We have to look at how we have systems to keep with the increased infrastructure that is now occasioning greater runoffs in countries like

St Vincent (and the Grenadines), [and] Dominica, where there are high slopes. More buildings are now on those slopes, but the drainage would have predated the 1970s, which is not able to manage the amount that is coming. We also have drain systems that were built but are now clogged with waste."