Have you been waiting for the right time to book that perfect Caribbean vacation? If you’re thinking about Jamaica, you might need to be a little cautious. Climate change has really affected the popular tourist destination, causing severe levels of drought that may suck all the fun out of your vacation. The country’s been wrought with drought and wildfires. The wildfires and drought have devastated different parts of Jamaica, however the western area seems most affected. The western area includes Montego Bay, a highly popular resort destination for travelers.
Jamaica is Drought-Ravaged
The National Water Commission (NWC), is responsible for all of Jamaica’s water and sewerage operations. NWC’s scope of responsibility includes production of water collection, water treatment and urban sewage disposal, according to their official website. The NWC shares water provision responsibilities with Jamaica’s various Parish Councils.
In March 2014, NWC urged customers to prepare for water restrictions as reduced rainfall, attributed to the dry season, put water supplies in a precious state. The government approved over $185,000 in spending to send dispatched water trucks to severely affected areas. Jamaica’s dry season was predicted to last until late March.
By the end of July 2014, things changed. Mark Blair, the NWC’s vice president, announced levels at two main catchment facilities deteriorated drastically. According to Blair, the country only has one month’s water supply available in consideration to distribution restrictions and current usage. Blair stated NWC was operating at approximately 60 percent capacity and insisted water supplies would need to be imported from “alternative sources” and further restrictions may be applied.
$8 Million in Crop Loss
Drought is not only affecting the western part of the country’s water supply, but their crop yields also. Acting Agricultural Minister Derrick Keller released a statement saying that over 16,000 of Jamaican farmers have suffered a total of over 4,000 acres of farmland that have “withered from lack of rainfall and scorching temperatures.” Many small farms lack irrigation systems and depend on rainfall to nourish crops.
Keller reported that this has occurred within the past few months, at that. The good news is, while the situation is quite serious, Keller assures that “it is not catastrophic.” Jamaica has allocated $266,000 in government funds to an agricultural agency to increase crop production to remedy the matter; also, most food is imported and the island has “enough supplies” of food staples like plantains and potatoes.
Climate Change, Jamaica & Drought
Jamaica regularly endures a dry spell that usually lasts from December to early April. This extended dry spell, complete with exacerbated water supplies, have little to do with dry season and quite a bit to do with climate change.
Climate change, as you may know, is the global transformation of regional climate patterns. It’s largely credited to increased carbon levels (from fossil fuels) in the atmosphere. Climate change has been attributed to drastic environmental changes, embracing increased drought in dry areas, as well as an expansion of dry areas, such as what’s happening in Jamaican territory.
Jamaica has taken great efforts to make proactive improvements in reaction and anticipation of climate change. Business deals have been designed to increase green energy from solar and wind power throughout the country, and Jamaica Observer reported that the tropical island has even partnered with Japan to receive a portion of $15 million to help produce developments fostering positive solutions for developing positive responses to climate change.
Drought is a serious issue that threatens food security and the water supply. Thus, I genuinely hope Jamaica can figure out a solution to deal with the intense climate change affecting the water supply. Water supply levels are now so severe that land in certain areas is parched; some of the country’s water systems have entirely dried up. I imagine this to pretty devastating for agricultural workers and family farms to deal with, as their livelihood is directly linked to this catastrophe.