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El Nino blamed for low rainfall levels
By Bert Wilkinson

Farmers and ordinary householders in Guyana, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados, Grenada and St. Lucia among others are starting to express concern about looming water shortages resulting from the prolonged dry season that saw vastly reduced annual year-end rainfall levels.

In Trinidad for example, weather watchers at the Piarco International Airport point to statistics showing that only 10 millimeters of rain fell in January compared to a normal 71 millimeters on the books as the national long-term average.

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana, February 15, 2010 – Drought conditions in Guyana, caused by a lingering El Nino, is threatening to cause billions of dollars in damage to the agriculture sector and officials say they’re doing all they can to, at least, limit the losses.

Like other countries in the region, Guyana is struggling with water shortages and Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud said the resultant losses could be around GUY$3 billion (US$14.7 million).

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Caribbean countries have been implementing various measures to control the use of water as the region experiences a prolonged drought.

From Trinidad and Tobago in the south, to Jamaica in the north, governments and the various utility companies have announced stringent measures ranging from a ban on watering lawns, to washing vehicles as a means of dealing with the low volume of water in reservoirs as a result of the reduced rainfall.

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Bridgetown, Barbados, February 11, 2010 (CDEMA) - CARICOM sends a regional eight member team of health personnel to Haiti. The team of specialists from Barbados and Saint Lucia left for Haiti today to begin two weeks of voluntary service. These individuals will provide emergency and specialized health care to earthquake victims and compliment the work of teams from the Sub Regional Focal Point Jamaica.

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Jamaica Defence Force soldiers on guard at the entrance to the CARICOM medical facility in Haiti.Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana, February 9, 2010 (CARICOM Secretariat) - More than 300 persons from eleven Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Member States and Associate Members have so far been involved in the response to the devastating earthquake which struck Haiti on 12 January.

The Region’s initial response was spearheaded by Jamaica, the sub-regional focal point with responsibility for the northern geographic zone of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) which includes Haiti among its five countries. CDEMA is the regional response mechanism for natural disasters.

Personnel from Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, The Bahamas, Dominica, Guyana, Grenada, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the British Virgin Islands along with Jamaica form the CARICOM Contingent which has been providing support in seven areas after the initial search and rescue, medical, security and engineering teams had been supplied by Jamaica within 48 hours of the earthquake.

CARICOM’s continuing interventions in Haiti include: Emergency Response Coordination; Medical Assistance; Logistics, inclusive of the distribution of relief supplies and engineers assessments; Security; CARICOM Civilian Evacuation and Resource Mobilisation. The Region’s interventions have stretched outside of the capital to locations such as Killick, Leogane, Archaie, Montrouis, lle de la Gonave and Gonaives.

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