Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation
Drought Alleviation Programme Being Prepared as Extreme Heat Expected to Continue – Vaz
The Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (MEGJC) is now in the process of preparing a programme to alleviate drought conditions across the island as temperatures are expected to rise in the coming months.
The programme is to be presented to Cabinet shortly.
This was disclosed by Minister without Portfolio in the MEGJC, Hon. Daryl Vaz who was making his contribution to the 2019 Sectoral Debate yesterday (July 16) in the House of Parliament, where he noted that in addition to the extreme heat, there is drought across much of the island.
Minister Vaz who has responsibility for Land, Environment and Climate Change noted that a sample of data taken from weather stations in all 14 parishes shows that all stations experienced higher extreme temperatures in June this year when compared to June 2018, with more than 50 per cent of these recording increases of 1.5 degrees or more.
In some cases, he noted, the increase was almost four degrees.
“Given all that is happening, the Climate Change Division (CCD) of my Ministry has been pro-active in ensuring that we take the necessary and concrete steps to make the island climate-resilient. The CCD has, inter alia developed mechanisms to remove barriers and unlock financing for private sector engagement in climate action”, Vaz told the House.
“A couple of Saturdays ago, Jamaica experienced an unprecedented 102 degrees Fahrenheit. Researchers say these record-breaking temperatures are made five times more likely by the effects of climate change”, he said.
The Minister further noted that in a traditional year, by this time in July “we would have encountered a Dry Season running from December to about April with just a few incidences of rainfall occurring mainly over Portland and sections of St. Mary, and then gradually impacting Parishes in the west, before the real Rainfall Season begins in May”.
He added that this year has shown a distinct shift in a pattern where north-eastern Jamaica, including Portland and parts of St. Mary, have generally been receiving less than half of their normal rainfall, while parishes in the west
have, in most cases, been enjoying above-normal activity.
“This has had dire consequences for the availability of water for the majority of consumers who reside in Kingston and St. Andrew.
“A moderate to severe drought is affecting sections of St. Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon, St. Catherine, Kingston & St. Andrew (KSA), St. Thomas, Portland, St Mary, and St. Ann, almost 70 per cent of the country”, he said.
The most recent projections from the Meteorological Service’s seasonal climate forecast model for the next few months through to September 2019, indicate that temperatures are likely to remain hotter than normal with near-normal to below-normal rainfall.
Temperatures in Jamaica are expected to be at their highest during July or August each year, and the next peak in the traditional rainfall profile for the country is not expected until October 2019.