PIOJ spearheading $829.3-m climate change data management project

PIOJ spearheading $829.3-m climate change data management project

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

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JAMAICA’S efforts to strengthen resilience against climate change are being assisted through implementation of the $829.3-million (US$6.8 million) Improving Climate Data and Information Management Project (ICDIMP).

The project, which comprises phase two of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR II), is being rolled out by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ), with grant support from the World Bank through the Climate Investment Fund.

It is one of five projects under Jamaica’s Strategic Programme for Climate Resilience, and aims to improve the quality of data collected and used by public and private sector stakeholders at the local and national levels.

It involves climate resilient planning and hydromet information services development at a cost of approximately $168.3 million (US$1.38 million); a climate change public education and awareness campaign, targeting behavioural change at a cost of $88.4 million (US$725,000); and project management and evaluation to cost approximately $82.9 million (US$680,000).

One of the primary beneficiaries is the Meteorological Service of Jamaica (Met Service), which is slated to receive a new Doppler weather radar at a cost of approximately J$487.8 million (US$4 million).

The new radar, which is expected to be acquired during the 2016/17 fiscal year, will replace the existing equipment at the Met Cooper’s Hill, St Andrew, division which the agency has utilised for the past 16 years.

The support also includes renovation of the office, training of officers, as well as programmes focusing on quality assurance.

The Met Service Division, the Water Resources Authority (WRA), and the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA) will also benefit from a number of other provisions.

These include 26 all-weather stations; 25 automatic recording rain gauges; 14 soil moisture probes; 11 groundwater loggers; eight agrometeorological stations; and one sea level tide monitoring station.

Head of the Met Service’s Weather Branch, Evan Thompson, welcomes the initiative, describing it as "an exciting moment for us" and, by extension, "all (of) our partner agencies".

He notes that the division is poised for increased capacity "to deliver on many of our objectives in addressing resilience to climate change".

"By the end of this project, in a matter of just five years, we would have seen improvements in our monitoring... (and) forecasting of hydro-meteorological and agrometeorological events," Thompson says.

"We would be contributing more effectively to hurricane predictions, flash flood forecasting, modelling of scenarios due to the impact of climate change, as well as national development through greater and more efficient access to climatological data," he adds.

He notes that there will also be significant investment in expanding the land and marine data gathering network to ensure that data collected are properly processed and managed, so that all sectoral interests will benefit from development programmes undertaken.

Thompson anticipates that the ICDIMP will build on collaborations with agencies such as WRA and RADA in enabling farmers to benefit from increased use of technology in agri-planning, and increase the number of weather data collecting platforms over eastern Jamaica.

"The (ICDIMP) is expected to take these...projects to the next level, building on the existing platforms and taking seriously the matter of climate change, which threatens to destabilise life as we have known it," he notes.

In expressing confidence that the ICDIMP "will be another successful project", Thompson assures that "we are prepared to stay the course to ensure that success".

"We are mindful of the hard work that is ahead, and we look forward to following through with this project to completion so that the even more exciting phase of reaping the benefits takes place over the next five years," he adds.

PIOJ Director General Colin Bullock, in welcoming the ICDIMP, says there is broad, multi-sectoral stakeholder acknowledgement that "our climate must be more deliberately factored into our economic analysis and planning".

He says natural disasters cause disruption of lives and livelihoods, with losses at between one and two per cent of Gross Domestic Product.

"Having timely and good quality data can help to improve decision-making, not only at the national level, but also at the household and community levels," Bullock states.

In noting that the project’s primary objective is advancing Jamaica’s transformation to a climate-resilient economy and society, the director general says it is consistent with the national strategy of climate change adaptation and disaster risk reduction, as outlined in Outcome 14 of the Vision 2030 Jamaica — National Development Plan.

"The wide scale availability of data and information through the climate information platform being developed will put easily digestible information at the fingertips of end users such as households, farmers, and the wider public, while the public education component should foster behaviour modification," the director general notes.

Bullock says the PIOJ is committed to the project’s implementation, "and looks forward to working with (our partners) in meeting (its) development objective".

World Bank Representative in Jamaica, Galina Sotirova, notes that climate change and its impact are "critical issues" which "disproportionately threaten" small island developing states like Jamaica.

These impacts, she points out, "are projected to get progressively more severe within a decade," unless intervention measures are taken immediately.

Sotirova notes that climate change directly affects 60 per cent of Jamaica’s population who reside in coastal communities, rendering them "most vulnerable".

It is for this reason, she says, that the World Bank and the Government of Jamaica agreed on a four-year Country Partnership Strategy in 2013, which identified priority areas of cooperation.

"Climate change, not surprisingly, emerged as a significant part of the conversation in the preparation period, and figures very prominently in one of the pillars of the four-year strategy, which focuses on social and climate resilience," she states.

In pointing out that Jamaica "has always been a leader in the Caribbean," she says the World Bank anticipates that the ICDIMP’s implementation will have a "welcome ripple effect throughout the region, as countries...are grappling and are trying to develop their strategies to secure sustainable economic growth".

For her part, the PIOJ’s deputy director general in charge of sustainable development and social planning, Claire Bernard, describes the ICDIMP as a "multidimensional" and "potentially... transformational" project...pointing out that "there...is something in this project for everyone in Jamaica".

Other partners in and beneficiary stakeholders of the ICDIMP include: the Ministry of Health; Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management; Climate Studies Group at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, in St Andrew; as well as the Climate Change and National Spatial Planning Management Divisions.

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