Students to participate in climate change sensitisation project

Friday, February 23, 2018

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THE Kiwanis clubs of North and Eastern St Andrew are on a mission to ensure more students aware of climate change issues and their impact on the Jamaican society.

In fact, students from 36 schools in the Corporate Area are set to learn more about climate change through the clubs' Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction Sensitisation project — an initiative in partnership with the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, National Environment and Planning Agency, the Forestry Department, and the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation.

The project was launched at the Half-Way-Tree Primary School in St Andrew on Wednesday.

President of the Kiwanis Club of North St Andrew Delroy Tomlinson said, besides raising awareness about climate change issues, the goals of the project are: “To improve the school capacity to respond efficiently to the disasters resulting from climate change challenges [and] to develop sustainable approaches to mitigation through public and private partnerships”.

It was revealed yesterday that the clubs are targeting schools because their members believe children must be equipped with sufficient knowledge about climate change and its impact, because they are the leaders of tomorrow.

The project will see students participating in training sessions with the project partners, after which they will be tasked with applying their knowledge during an environment competition and an art competition.

For the environment competition, participants will be required to invent creative ways of reducing the effects of climate change and mitigation risk, while for the art competition, they will be expected to create artwork related to climate change issues and disaster risk mitigation.

The overall winner of the competitions will be gifted with a weather station for their school.

Meanwhile, ODPEM Deputy Director General Richard Thompson stressed in a presentation at the launch that the prediction is that climate change is increasing globally.

“As the world warms, we are having more severe weather-related events. There is more increase in the frequency and magnitude of these events.

“The global heat waves are becoming more common, we are having more intense hurricanes, we are having more intense flooding,” Thompson said. “We have rising sea levels.

“Jamaica is an island state that is very coastal and we are losing a number of our beaches. We are losing a lot of our fish stock. We are also losing arable lands, which is important, as well, for food security,” he continued.

The ODPEM deputy director general also highlighted that Jamaica has been experiencing more severe droughts as a result of global warming and climate change. This, he said, caused many bush fires and even affected the country's water supply.

Thompson also expressed concern about the negative impact that the lack of water has on people's health.

“Water and sanitation are critical, from a global standpoint, in looking at risk management measures and climate change because a lot of the times when we have drought-related events, places that normally suffer are schools and hospital. Then we tend to have a lot of times where children are in hospitals,” he said.

He went further to underscore that children's education is affected when these natural disasters occur.

“Whenever there's an impact, schools are shut down. Kids are at home. They don't get to partake in the business of school, engage in learning, be among their peers,“ he said Wednesday.

This problem, he said, pushed officials to find a solution to help children who are being groomed to lead.

“In looking at this, we ask ourselves how we can make things better for our children. It is to develop, children-friendly disaster risk management measures to ensure that our children are actually protected.

“Ensuring that we are building safer schools, we are building stronger houses that are resilient to climate change; and ensuring, as well... that we are inculcating in our curriculum disaster risk reduction measures and climate change measures,” Thompson said.

In the meantime, Senator Matthew Samuda, who spoke on behalf of Daryl Vaz, minister with responsibility for climate change in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, charged the students to educate others about what they learn through the project.

“Boys and girls, on this issue you'll have to show your parents the way. Because the fact is the generations that have gone before have not necessarily made it easy where this issue is concerned.

“We will have to teach our parents how to recycle. We will have to teach them where they can and cannot build. We will have to teach them about things like not burning their waste. We will have to teach them not to litter. These are the issues that lead to degradation of your environment that will create greater problems for you,” he said.

— Falon Folkes

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