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Gov't says Jamaica better prepared to respond to flood threat

Thursday, May 25, 2017

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Climate Change Division of the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, says that Jamaica is now in a better position to forecast and respond to the threat of flood conditions.

According to a release this afternoon, this is as a result of the upgrading of the country's hydro-meteorology (hydro-met) network, which includes intensity rainfall stations and river, gauges islandwide.

The systems, the release explained, are being monitored by the Water Resources Authority (WRA), allowing for the real time recording and transmission of information relating to the intensity of rainfall and water levels in selected rivers across the island daily.
The World Bank is funding the upgrading of the water monitoring system as part of the Improving Climate Data and Information Management Project (ICDIMP) under the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR).

The project, which is being executed by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and other partners, is intended to improve the quality and use of climate-related data and information for effective planning and action at the community and national levels.
To date, 16 monitoring stations have been retrofitted and are providing real time data to the WRA. This includes 10 rainfall intensity gauges and six river/stream flow monitors. The aim is to upgrade at least 34 stations under the project, the ministry disclosed.

Peter Clarke, Deputy Managing Director of the WRA, attested to the importance of the mechanism and shared a practical example of its usefulness.

He said, “During the recent heavy rains, between May 14 and 17, the WRA was able to access information from remote locations and monitor the rate at which rivers in some of the affected areas were rising.

“One of the areas to which we paid close attention was the Rio Cobre and based on the real time data recorded about the rate at which the river was rising, we took steps to ensure that the flood warning system was operational in providing early warnings and worked with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) to enforce the closure of the Bog Walk Gorge.

“This allowed us to avoid any incidents of vehicles and persons experiencing difficulties or being trapped in the area.”

The PPCR was conceptualised to implement practical solutions to strengthen resilience against the impacts of climate change.

The ICDIMP was launched in January 2016 and is one of a suite of projects giving effect to the goals and objectives of Jamaica's Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience (SPCR) and is geared towards the climate change adaptation imperative outlined in Vision 2030 Jamaica - National Development Plan.

The project has three main components - the upgrading of hydro-met data collection mechanisms, updating of weather forecasting systems and improving climate resilient planning and hydro-met information services, as well as the implementation of climate change education and awareness programmes.


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