Stakeholders Participate in Writeshop Aimed at Managing Drought Events in OECS Member States

Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 04, 2017 (SKNIS): In 2009/2010 and again in 2015/2016, the Caribbean experienced severe drought that resulted in a shortage in water supply in many countries and territories. Against this backdrop, a number of stakeholders are currently in St. Kitts participating in a write shop for Phase 2 of the drafting of the National Drought Documents, which will stem over a two day period from May 04 -05.

Three previous write shops were held in early 2016 to help Eastern Caribbean countries advance next steps in drought preparedness, in what was Phase 1 of Drought Policy and Planning Development. The write shops were organized by the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The Honourable Ian Patches Liburd, Minister of Public Infrastructure, said that the write shops came at an opportune time.

“We believe that this is timely because we are aware of the situation in St. Kitts and Nevis as it relates to our drought, which we have not experienced in many decades, and this has derived from the rainfall deficit of 50-55 percent in 2015,” said Minister Liburd. “Last year, 2016, I am advised that the rainfall deficit was some 40-45 percent, so that gives you an understanding of where we are in terms of our drought. It is very important to be prepared, as this situation has continued throughout the Caribbean.”

He explained that the writeshops pave a way for St. Kitts and Nevis and the Caribbean region on a whole, as it relates to developing plans and policies that will assist all member states in managing drought.

“Coming out of the writeshops that we have hosted or participated in, the stakeholders representing St. Kitts and Nevis assessed our national and sectoral drought policies and plans, and have already initiated a new Draft Water Services Drought Management Plan, and developed a draft terms of reference for a drought management committee,” he said. “What is important about this is that we are moving away from a culture of little or no planning, and that approach is costly to any government. So when we have a write shop like this one it would help us to be prepared; it would help us as a government to depend on timely and reliable drought information, and about the conditions and impacts because we need proactive development of response efforts.”

Minister Liburd said that the government looks forward to the expected outcome of the writeshop, which will become a national draft policy that will deal with addressing the drought situation. He said once the policy is brought to Cabinet he is confident that it will be ratified.

The May 04-05 writeshop is facilitated by the Programme for Building Regional Climate Capacity in the Caribbean (BRCCC), in collaboration with the St. Kitts and Nevis Meteorological Services, the St. Kitts and Nevis Water Services Department, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) and the United States National Drought Mitigation Center (NDMC) at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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