Intense rainfall, storm surges and hurricanes have resulted in an increased number of flooding events in the Caribbean over recent times. The economic impacts of such events in Jamaica and in Trinidad and Tobago, were at the centre of discussions this morning, when regional technicians gathered for an expert group meeting (EGM) hosted by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) subregional headquarters for the Caribbean.
Discussions during the meeting were guided by an upcoming study by ECLAC Caribbean, entitled `An Economic Analysis of Flooding in the Caribbean – The case of Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago’.
Across the Caribbean, flooding events have been linked to the impacts of global climate change. In the case of Jamaica, flooding was identified as the most frequently recurring natural hazard affecting the country. The cause of such events is to be found in cases of extreme rainfall, which are typically associated with tropical storms, hurricanes and depressions. The impact of these phenomena is further heightened by hydrological issues and land use practices, which combined may lead to flooding.
Similarly, in the case of Trinidad and Tobago, flooding results from a combination of natural and anthropogenic factors such as topography, rainfall patterns and soil types, coupled with inadequate land use and watershed management practices.
Against this backdrop, the EGM analysed the impacts of recurrent flood events, which have resulted in significant disruptions to economic and social life. For example, the 2018 October flood in East and Central Trinidad affected an estimated 150,000 people in 4, 100 households, and according to the Agricultural Society of Trinidad and Tobago, approximately 75 per cent of local farmers were severely affected through the loss of crops and livestock. Similarly in Jamaica, six storm events between 2002 and 2007 resulted in 60 fatalities and US $1.02 billion in damages. Since 2010, Jamaica has experienced several flooding events, with at least three major occurrences in 2012, 2017, and 2018.
Meeting participants included representatives from the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Management (ODPM) of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as Government officials from Jamaica and representatives of the Water Resources Authority of Jamaica.