The nine-nation Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) is hosting a four-day national training workshop titled The Development of National Drought Management Policies and National Drought Early Warning Information Systems as member countries prepare for what scientists predict to be a severe dry season this year.
The workshop will span three countries starting in St. Lucia this week and then moving to Antigua and Barbuda and St Kitts and Nevis in February and March.
Head of the OECS Commis-sion Dr Didicus Jules explained that droughts are naturally occurring hazards that are often slow creeping phenomena that eventually leads to widespread negative effects.
“Increasingly, frequent and extreme droughts are becoming a feature of Caribbean weather, notwithstanding greater periods of heavier precipitation.
“The impact of such drought conditions will increase heat stress, particularly for the more vulnerable such as the elderly and will worsen sanitation conditions from reduced water supplies,” he said.
“The Caribbean can account for seven of the world’s top 36 water-stressed countries, all with the highest possible water-stress scores” according to the World Resources Institute.
The Food and Agricultural Organisation defines countries like Barbados, Antigua and Barbuda, and St Kitts and Nevis as water scarce with less than 1000m3 freshwater resources per capita, with Barbados being in the top 10.
“In light of this, development of policies, strategies, and plans to mitigate the impacts of drought, which scientists have suggested, will increasingly become critical in the Caribbean,” Jules noted.