A Flood Warning System for Fellowship


Fellowship is a small community, situated along the narrow, winding road that runs up the Rio Grande Valley, just outside the town of Port Antonio in the parish of Portland. I actually used to know this place very well – one area in particular. This land is quite beautiful, with a shallow river winding through it and a small waterfall. Around the steep edges runs a road with a floor of soft, dry leaves, edged with banks of bamboo that continually make a creaking sound as the branches rub together. However, the land was always very prone to landslides, and could almost change overnight after a heavy shower of rain. Apart from the wide, beautiful Rio Grande itself, there are many smaller rivers and wetlands in the area. I recall that there is a sweet-scented white flower growing widely in one marshy area.

So, with these lovely memories of the place, I was so glad to hear that a flood early warning system has been put in place. With climate change, this is really important. Floods rise fast. Congratulations to the Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change II (JA-REEACH II) project for prioritizing this lovely but vulnerable community.

Fellowship Community receives flood early warning system

(Kingston, Jamaica; November 2, 2018) –  Over 2,000 residents in Fellowship, Portland are expected to benefit from the installation of a comprehensive flood early warning system to assist the community in managing potential flood-related disasters. The equipment was received at a handover ceremony on October 31, 2018, at the Fellowship Baptist Church.

The community is vulnerable to flooding caused by several factors such as high stream and river flow during heavy rainfall, and blockage of river course and other waterways by landslide debris. Grant assistance valued at USD $45,000 provided by the USAID-funded Ja REEACH II project has enabled the installation of the early warning system. The equipment has been installed at strategic sections throughout the mid-Rio Grande Valley through a partnership with the Water Resources Authority (WRA). The handover ceremony also included an information session led by the WRA, and the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM).

The community participated in a series of risk assessment and planning workshops conducted by Ja REEACH, which identified the need for a comprehensive flood early warning system to respond efficiently to future incidences of flooding.

“I am glad that the system is now in place to give us enough time as a community to take action whenever it rains so that it can lessen the impact of the flooding in the community,” said Icema Swire, flood victim and community member. Previously, flood waters have risen as high as 23 feet surrounding Mrs Swire’s home.

Deputy Managing Director of the WRA, Peter Clarke, highlighted the significance of the early warning system for the community. “Fellowship has a history of flooding and history of loss. We have an obligation to try and keep all our citizens as safe as we can. There are communities that are extremely vulnerable Fellowship is one of those extremely vulnerable community and such it is natural that it is one of the first that would have been chosen for this project.”

The WRA is currently collecting real-time rainfall and river flow data for developing a flood prediction model for the Rio Grande Valley.

Photo: (L-R) Steve Hudson, Hydrologist, Water Resources Authority; Community resident Shanekia Reid, USAID Acting Country Representative, Rebecca Robinson, Ja REEACH II Deputy Chief of Party, Dianne Dormer and Mr and Mrs Vincent Swire, flood victims and community residents view the Flood Early Warning Sign in the Fellowship Square. (Photo: JA-REEACH II)

The Ja REEACH II project is a four-year initiative funded by the USAID and implemented by ACDI/VOCA.  Through a range of interventions, Ja REEACH II works with government, the private sector, civil society and community-based organizations to increase awareness and application of practical actions that help Jamaicans to become more resilient to the impacts of climate change.

Contact: Dainalyn Swaby (Ms)

Communication Coordinator

Jamaica Rural Economy and Ecosystems Adapting to Climate Change II (Ja REEACH II) Project

1A Braemar Avenue, Kingston 10, Jamaica, W.I.

Tel: (876) 946-1602-3 l Fax: (876) 946-1604

Email: dswaby@jareeach.org

www.acdivoca.org

 


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