Disaster risk reduction and the effects of the climatological phenomenon El Niño were among the principal topics for discussion at the Oxfam sponsored regional III Humanitarian Forum in Havana, an international confederation working on such issues in more than 90 countries.

Disaster risk reduction and the effects of the climatological phenomenon El Niño were among the principal topics for discussion at the Oxfam sponsored regional III Humanitarian Forum in Havana, an international confederation working on such issues in more than 90 countries.For one week, humanitarian coordinators and other experts from Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Mexico, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Peru, Bolivia, Paraguay, Colombia and Cuba discussed situations in their countries and exchanged damage limitation experiences.

As the host-country, Cuba presented advances, and indicated that that these could be attained regionally through willingness and organization.

Oxfam’s general director for Latin America and the Caribbean, Simon Ticehurst, said “it is not coincidental that they have the lowest disaster related human loss index in the region”.

The main priority for Major General Ramon Pardo Guerra, chief of the Civl Defence High Command, is hazard minimization.

He said in a lecture that the region could also contribute to Cuba in this regard, emphasizing that “our world is subject to increasingly complex and difficult potential and actual disaster scenarios”.

He further stressed the necessity to redouble efforts for the creation of a culture of disaster risk awareness and the capacity of our communities to be resilient.

EL NIÑO IN CENTRAL AMERICA AND THE CARIBBEAN

Disaster risk reduction and the effects of the climatological phenomenon El Niño were among the principal topics for discussion at the Oxfam sponsored regional III Humanitarian Forum in Havana, an international confederation working on such issues in more than 90 countries.According to Oxfam figures, in excess of 3 million people have been affected by drought and other effects of the event on the dry Central American Corridor.

The International Research Institute has said that El Niño which occurs in erratic 3 to 8 year cycles and causes warming of the eastern equatorial Pacific, will remain active until 2016.

No country in the zone has been immune. Cuba also shared its views in this regard, primarily regarding early warning and surveillance systems to mitigate against drought damage – one particular consequence of El Niño.

Their system, which allows for real time diagnosis and harm prevention, has been worked on since the 1990’s.

Cuban meteorologist, Cecilia Fonseca, forecasts an adverse rainfall situation over the coming months. She said that intense but short rain storms could occur. Nevertheless, these will not affect drought conditions but she warned that they require close monitoring due to the risk of coastal flooding.

Cuban farm meteorologist, Eduardo Valdes considers it important that the agriculture sector know of the effects on their crops. These are not well understood in Cuba but such experiences are vital for base diagnostics.

He said that it is the farmer who plants and we ought to consider his reflections in our search for mitigation strategies.

Valdes indicated during his intervention that El Niño will continue to get stronger and that it warrants close attention during this new cold season, especially regarding sugarcane, coffee, tobacco and potato crops.

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