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“Action needed to catch up to climate change”
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“Action needed to catch up to climate change”

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Advira ShandClimate change is already evident in Jamaica, writes Advira Shand, 25, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Manchester in Jamaica, who urges immediate short term action as well as long-term policy changes.

I always look forward to scanning Jamaica’s lush green terrain while occupying a window seat of an airplane flying to and from Jamaica. However, on my return to my island-state on the 11th of September I was forced to witness, from my favoured window-seat, the frightening changes that my country underwent due to widespread drought that has been squeezing it dry.

Sure enough, during my car ride from the Norman Manley International airport I was afforded a more thorough inspection of my beloved country.  I came face to face with the widespread wilting and decaying agricultural crops, malnourished farm and domestic animals, disappearing rivers and streams, and acres of parched land boasting miles of dried grass.

On seeing this unappealing transformation of the environment, I cringed inwardly as I imagined what lay in store for me in my agrarian community in South Manchester. As the car I was travelling in approached a neighbouring community, I saw scores of individuals with numerous large water bottles, lining the dusty road, scavenging for water at a nearby stand-pipe that leisurely dripped water. With a heavy heart and crossed fingers I entered the dirt-clad road leading into my community, Resource.

Tall, fruitless trees swayed mockingly in the wind and there was no sign of blossoming vegetation which once covered my community. Buildings were enveloped tightly in dust and dirt, and streets once filled with babbling youths were left bare as a result of the scorching temperature.

When I arrived home I stood in disbelief at the sight of my once green, flourishing yam vines and promising banana trees. They stood wilted and lifelessly behind my house. Neighbourhood dogs that usually patrolled my streets noisily were now merely skin and bones that sat meekly in the shade. Surrounding household tanks, including a large neighbourhood tank known as Parish Tank, which services the entire community, were all devoid of water. With no sign of government funded water trucks, economically depressed farmers cheated out of their jobs, and unwelcome weather predictions about the unlikelihood of rainfall, we are heading steps closer to starvation and turmoil courtesy of climate change.

This unfortunate, extensive drought has been pushing Jamaica towards a social and economic meltdown. In that light, it is of great importance that Jamaican policymakers – who have focused their attention on achieving climate change goals outlined within the Vision 2030 Jamaica: National Development Plan – set their sights on also achieving short-term climate change goals.

It is quite obvious that waiting to put a meaningful dent in climate change fifteen years from now is not a prudent option, as climate change has been increasingly posing a serious threat to Jamaica’s survival.

Possible short term goals that Jamaica – which desperately needs short-term action to catch up to climate change – should consider engineering are: effective education campaigns geared towards making the Jamaican populace more aware of the effects of climate change; educating local farmers about adaptive measures that they can employ in limiting the impacts of natural disasters such as drought on their agricultural production; meaningful climate-related policies and programs that are aimed towards limiting climate change; and strategies designed to significantly boost investments in renewable energy initiatives.

Climate change will not sit around and wait until Jamaica summons up its courage to wage a meaningful fight against it. Therefore, Jamaica needs to act now before it’s too late.

photo credit: 0268100511 via photopin (license)

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About me:

It is my desire to inspire growth among youths and within the region I inhabit. I have a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations and serve as a Managing Partner at WAGS Construction. It is my intention to undertake graduate studies that will help me in my quest to occupy a position within my country where I can assist in crafting policies that will fuel development within developing states.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit:
http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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