Jamaican government outlines its plans to tackle current period of drought

Pearnel Charles Jr says the government has several measures in place to deal with drought in Jamaica.

The Government is implementing several measures to supply communities with water islandwide during the current period of drought.

The Meteorological Service Branch has projected that the country will be experiencing near-normal rainfall in some areas and moderately dry conditions up to at least April.

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Pearnel Charles Jr., said that the multisectoral approach to drought management is being undertaken to minimise the effects of the dry period on Jamaicans.

He was speaking at a press conference on drought mitigation, at Jamaica House, on February 6.

Charles Jr. said a Drought Management Committee, which is a subcommittee of the Integrated Water Resources Management Council, has been established to manage, in a proactive way, the execution of the drought management plan.

Short-term strategies

The committee, to be chaired by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), consists of representatives from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Ministries of Health and Wellness; Local Government and Community Development; Economic Growth and Job Creation, RADA, Rural Water Supply Limited, among others.

“The plan also has within its components drought response activities that are aimed at the rapid intervention for the prevention of loss of lives, protection of health, prevention of loss of livelihood and property,” he said.

Outlining the Government’s short-term strategies, Charles Jr said 26 rural water system projects will be completed for 2020, which will bring water to an additional 56,000 Jamaican residents. He said 18 will be completed by March, while eight will be completed by June.

He said that 20 catchment tanks will be fully renovated by March 2020, noting that 12 have been rehabilitated, while eight should be completed by the end of March. He said they have the capacity to hold more than 100,000 gallons, which can support a community of 300 people for 30 days.

Charles Jr said 38 schools will be fitted with rainwater harvesting systems by March. He added that 20 have been completed, while 18 are at an advanced stage. He pointed out that the systems utilise primarily solar technology for pumping.

Additionally, he said more trucks will be procured to assist in distributing water to the hardest-hit areas.