13.11.2013 - UNESCO Office in Santiago

UNESCO to train specialists in the Caribbean in developing a Drought Atlas

Workshop participants

Dry lands, Aruba. Photo: Flickr/toddheft

The MWAR –LAC project, funded by UNESCO and the Flemish Government, and coordinated from OREALC/UNESCO Santiago, organized a workshop that was held from 4 to 8 November in Kingston, Jamaica, to provide professionals with training in the application of statistical analysis to regional hydrological data sets.

The training activity was organized to contribute to the development of a Drought Atlas for the Caribbean, and was conducted in collaboration with the Water Center for Arid and Semi-Arid Zones in Latin America and the Caribbean (CAZALAC), with the support of the Cluster Bureau for the Caribbean in Jamaica and the Regional Bureau of Science in Montevideo.

In particular, the workshop helped build capacities among professionals at meteorological departments and public bodies linked to water management in eight Caribbean nations (Bahamas, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad & Tobago, St Lucia, and Barbados) in the development of applications that contribute to improving policies on hydrology and drought vulnerability analysis.  The initiative also provided training in open source R language statistics programming, which can be used to generate draft maps of drought frequency in Caribbean countries, and for a wide range of other purposes.

Koen Verbist, from the Hydrological Systems and Global Change programme at OREALC/UNESCO Santiago, explained that “the methodology allowed participating countries to better quantify the drought risk affecting their entire territories, and to identify the areas with highest levels of vulnerability. This helps countries to better manage climate-related risk and to anticipate extreme events that occur with a specific frequency”.

Work on the drought atlas began in 2008, using a methodology jointly developed by CAZALAC, the International Center for Integrated Water Resource Management (ICIWaRM) and the European Joint Research Centre (JRC), including the creation of a number of publications, workshops and initiatives such as the first Chilean Drought Atlas.

A series of specialised training sessions and workshops in collaboration with the Euroclima and RALCEA projects, financed by the European Union, have now brought the first edition of the Latin America Drought Atlas close to completion. Drought atlases are currently being developed for Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela.

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