THE Government is looking to see how it can improve assistance to residents in drought-stricken parishes.
Approximately half the island is now being affected by worsening drought conditions due to the current dry season, which is approaching its halfway mark. Data from the Meteorological Office of Jamaica (Met Office) reveals that already eight parishes have been experiencing drought conditions ranging from 'normal' to 'severe'.
Minister of Water, Land, Environment, and Climate Change Robert Pickersgill, who received a report on the matter at a heads of agency meeting last week Wednesday, called the situation alarming.
Pickersgill said that he would have discussions at the Cabinet level to see how the delivery of potable water to affected areas can be improved.
The minister had previously told Parliament, in January, that the National Water Commission (NWC) would be moving to implement a number of drought mitigation initiatives. Among them was a programme to rehabilitate several tanks to full functionality or replace them. A provision of $3 billion is being made for this purpose under the K-Factor programme.
In the meantime, head of the Climate Branch Clifford Mahlung warned that conditions could worsen before the dry season is over at the end of April. He said residents in drought-stricken areas should store water and use what they have efficiently.
The parishes affected include St Mary, Hanover and St Catherine, which are experiencing normal drought condition; Westmoreland, Clarendon and St James, which have severe drought conditions and Trelawny, which is experiencing extreme drought condition. In addition, some areas of St Elizabeth are also being affected.