National Drought Mitigation Center


Caribbean nations use “writeshops” to advance drought preparedness

May 16, 2016

Roché Mahon, a social scientist at CIMH, led a small group session focusing on updating a drought and flood preparedness plan for St. Kitts and Nevis, assisted by Theresa Jedd, a political scientist and NDMC post-doctoral researcher.

Three “writeshops” in early 2016 helped Caribbean island nations take next steps in drought preparedness. Participants focused on creating and refining policy and planning documents that advanced drought preparedness in each territory.

The writeshop was organized by The Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) Commission in collaboration with The Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH), with the U.S. National Drought Mitigation Center providing expertise in drought monitoring and planning.

The writeshop idea has been used in various contexts in international development in recent years, all of which have in common a focus on producing a document. In contrast, a traditional scientific meeting focuses more on presentations and discussion.

“The term basically came about from the desire to have documents commenced or drafted, rather than make presentations, discuss and seek a way forward,” said Adrian Trotman, CIMH Chief of Applied Meteorology and Climatology, and one of the organizers. “When you come into the workshop knowing that one of the main deliverables is a document, you start working on that document -- hence writeshop.”

Writeshops conducted in Saint Lucia, Antigua and Barbuda and St. Kitts and Nevis in January through March 2016 each drew about 30 participants with drought-related responsibilities (e.g., water providers, agricultural stakeholders, emergency responders and other sectors). In the case of the latter writeshops, representatives from neighboring Eastern Caribbean islands including Dominica, Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Anguilla, the British Virgin Islands and Montserrat, as well as a contingent of local officials were in attendance. The four-day writeshops began with presentations on Caribbean drought monitoring and forecasting products and on best practices in drought planning, including talks by National Drought Mitigation Center staff on drought monitoring and planning.

Check out the latest issue of the Caribbean drought bulletin:

In preparation for the writeshops, each country team first identified and then assessed the gaps in the existing legislation, policies, plans and other documents that pertained to drought preparedness, such as multi-hazard plans, and plans related to water, development, environment or land use. For the last two days of the writeshop, participants updated and drafted documents that they prioritized would be critical to take each territory’s preparedness to the next step. They also strategized on best ways to present documents and recommendations to decision-makers for ratification and implementation.

Severe drought in the Caribbean in 2015 continued into 2016 on some islands, with water rationing affecting homes and businesses. Infrastructure and conservation practices vary from one island to another, partly due to differences in terrain.

Saint Lucia’s stakeholders focused on enhancing the country’s national Disaster Management Policy Framework document and the Water and Sewerage Company’s Water Management Plan for Drought Conditions document to better reflect drought considerations, in addition to further refining the roles and responsibilities outlined in the existing Flood and Drought Management Committee’s Terms of Reference.

Antigua and Barbuda stakeholders worked on a draft institutional and legislative framework review, and a draft Terms of Reference for a new National Drought Management Committee.

Stakeholders representing St. Kitts and Nevis assessed their national and sectoral drought policies and plans; initiated work on a new draft Water Services Drought Management Plan, and developed a draft Terms of Reference for a new Drought Management Committee.

St. Kitts and Nevis hosted another meeting in April to complete the work started at the writeshop, and other islands are continuing to refine their drafts.

-- Kelly Helm Smith, NDMC