July 1, 2014
Drought over, rainy season here

Our young masqueraders may have been inconvenienced by the change in the weather, just as they were getting into their Carnival celebrations, but for most of us, the rains could not have come soon enough. It was a most welcome occurrence heralding, we hope, the onset of the rainy season and relief from the long dry spell.{{more}}

The 2014 dry season has been a most testing one, straining the water supply to consumers. Much speculation has occurred, ranging from the effects of climate change to the El Nino phenomenon. Whatever the reason, the drought has had a serious impact, not just in St Vincent and the Grenadines, but Caribbean-wide. Country after country has had to ration water supplies to consumers and to make fervent appeals for conservation techniques to be employed.

It has brought into focus the issues of the utilization of limited water resources, conservation and storage. Given these challenges, it continues to be a source of concern that we are still unable to make better use of water resources. Much of the rain which we will receive in the rainy season is allowed to run off to the sea because of limitations in our storage capacity. It is an issue which needs to be addressed on both the national and regional levels.

The long dry spell has had a negative effect on the agricultural sector at a time when we could well do without such setbacks. Agriculture has been receiving a battering in recent years, from the weather, pest and diseases and from man-made factors. The drought has added another layer of woes to this already-stressed sector. It is sure to have serious implications for local food supply and food security in the region in the upcoming months.

This is particularly distressing, given the critical economic problems facing the entire region. Even before the drought, agriculture already faced enormous challenges throughout the Caribbean. The drought can only further complicate this situation. It will be important for the respective Ministries of Agriculture to do socio-economic assessments of the damage occasioned by the dry weather and to make appropriate plans for recovery.

There is also the damage, economically and ecologically, caused by fires during the drought. Damage has been done to both property and to our forests over these past few months. This too cries out for analysis and attention. We must here express our appreciation for the dedicated work of our firefighters and forestry personnel during the period.

Hopefully the drought is over, but with it comes the reminder that we are into the hurricane season. Our experiences over the years tell us that we cannot afford to drop our guard but must continue to be vigilant and to make adequate preparation for the challenges ahead.