Friday, March 7, 2014

Climate Change in the Dominican Republic

The Dominican Republic (DR) is one of the top ten most affected countries in the world by extreme weather and natural disasters. In recent years, global climate change (GCC) has led to more frequent and severe droughts, floods, and storms throughout the country. The map, courtesy of the USAID Dominican Republic Climate Change Vulnerability Assessment Report conducted in September 2013, shows the areas most susceptible to flooding and storm surges; and also highlights the key watersheds. 

The DR’s agricultural sector is particularly vulnerable to GCC. In 1998, Hurricane George destroyed approximately one third of the country’s crops, totaling losses of approximately $278 million. In 2007, Tropical Storm Noel destroyed a significant proportion of the country’s plantain and vegetable crops. These extreme natural disasters reduce crop yields and compromise the nation’s food security.

Peggy Carlson and Courtney Dunham in the
F2F Country Office in the Dominican Republic.
Additionally, the effects of GCC on water quantity and quality are a major concern in the DR. This is especially true for the Yaque del Norte watershed - highlighted above - which supplies water to over 2 million people. Partners’ Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) program seeks to help address these challenges. Senior Director of Agriculture and Food Security Peggy Carlson and Senior Program Officer Courtney Dunham traveled to the DR to meet with key stakeholders in-country. Ms. Dunham continued on in the DR to explore areas of need for technical assistance to increase the resilience of Dominicans to the impacts of GCC. Some potential areas for technical assistance identified by local groups include effective watershed management, the integration of climate change adaptation strategies into organization’s operational plans, and promotion of climate-smart agricultural techniques and technologies.

We hope to find ways to help to address this important problem in the Dominican Republic and elsewhere in the region!

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