There is nothing new about the unwelcomed drought the country is now enduring.
It pretty much follows the pattern of hot days and little to no rainfall that we have been experiencing since 2018.
At a press conference which detailed last year’s low record rainfall conditions and provided an update on expected conditions for the remainder of the year, climatologist Dr Cedric Van Meerbeeck predicted there will be less water, lower crop yields, and even more fires in the months ahead.
He said: “We are talking about plants withering, but we are also talking about the risk of fires increasing, crop yields that might be affected at some stage.
“Our best knowledge at this stage is that Barbados will be rather dry.”
Even the early part of this year’s wet season might be delayed by dry spells, Dr Van Meebeeck warned.
We know all too well the trickle of water from taps in the parishes of St John, St Andrew, St Joseph, St Peter and St Thomas.
And then, of course, there’s the impact on farmers who have been reaping fewer crops and pulling more from their pockets to sustain livestock. Result: scarcer, pricier meat and vegetables.
So this fresh warning from leading forecasters to brace for more intense drought conditions and heatwaves this year is a wake-up call – all over again.
For while those who are forced to wait on Barbados Water Authority tankers to cook their Sunday meal, or venture to the nearest stand-pipe to be able to clean their homes or take a shower at a friend’s house to go to work already face the bitter reality, it appears to be business as usual for most of us.
Still, as advised by meteorologist Sabu Best, there is no need to panic but this country must be prepared. Inaction is not an option.
Best suggested: “It’s not Armageddon and it has happened before, though not as significantly as it is right now.
“We can pull together and get through this, through the resources of the BWA, through their messages to the public and the Ministry of Agriculture advising the population beforehand of particular crops that we can plant. That is the way we could help mitigate that.”
Minister of Water Resources Wilfred Abraham says Government is fully aware of the drought forecast and all its repercussions and has started to act.
He said: “We are looking at every aspect of mitigation.
“One step is to fix all of the burst pipes, we are also trying to upgrade our pumping stations, we are looking at reusing wastewater inland because all water pumped by the BWA, whether it is for washing cars or construction, is good drinking water and that does not make sense.
“So, we are also looking at introducing dual plumbing codes so that persons do not flush their toilets with potable water but instead you use rainwater.”
We are anxious about these proposals and any other practical initiatives to come to fruition to minimize the impact on families across the nation.
Water conservation and water harvesting must be everyone’s business. The more water we save and store, the more we’ll have as the drought gets worse.
There really is no time for delay and just as we have started to treat hurricane preparedness more seriously, we believe a national plan to help our water-scarce country cope in dry times must be rolled out.