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Apr 11, 2002

Scientists look to mitigate weather damage

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The hurricane season might be months away, but Belizean authorities are already getting ready for what is expected be a busy season. As part of the preparation process, today, representatives from the National Emergency Management Organisation, the National Meteorological Service, and officials from similar organisations in the region met in Belize City to discuss ways of minimising the effects of the deadly storms and other natural disasters. News 5′s Jacqueline Woods reports.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

There is nothing weather experts or scientists can do to prevent phenomena like hurricanes, droughts and floods and the accompanying human and financial losses. But we can take measures to reduce the damage. Jose Joaquin Chacon is the Regional Co-ordinator for a Disaster Mitigation Project that was established to study the effects of climatic conditions in Central America.

Jose Joaquin Chacon, Regional Co-ordinator, CEPREDENAC

“The project came about because Central America in the recent past has been affected by climatic variability and extreme weather conditions. It is estimated that in Central America the financial loss as the result of flooding and drought is estimated to be thirty million dollars accumulated over the past ten to twenty years.”

Two years after the project was launched, the final phase of the work took place in Belize. A national workshop was held for the proposal of a Multi-sectoral Early Warning System that will be used to compliment the work of the National Emergency Management Organisation, NEMO.

Ramon Frutos, Meteorologist

“We all the know the job of NEMO is to reduce the impact of hurricanes and other natural disasters in Belize. For example, we went through the experience of Mitch, Keith and Iris and we saw how effective NEMO was to mobilise all its committees to reduce the negative impacts of these phenomenon in Belize.

This new system is basically to look at other areas where NEMO is not concentrating much. For example, NEMO’s primary role as we know on an annual basis is hurricane effects. Now what this new system will do is basically provide technical information via an expert group of people or scientists to NEMO, so that NEMO can help other sectors of the community. For example the energy sector, the agricultural sector, the tourist sector and other sectors in the country that are affected or affected in some way or the other by changes or variations in climatic conditions.”

Chacon says recent studies have revealed that the Central American region has become even more vulnerable to natural disasters. Chacon believes that officials must become more vigilant in their efforts to deal with such conditions.

Jose Joaquin Chacon

“The main objective of this workshop is to try to sensitise policy makers and the government that Central America is affected by climatic variability. And Belize then should try to become conscious of this and prepare for future climatic variability events that could impact the loss of human lives and also the agricultural sector. The government should also think along the lines of investing more in prevention rather than when the event is on top of us.”

We do not know if the new system will be tested this hurricane season ,but weather experts predict that it will be another busy year. Jacqueline Woods reporting for News 5.

Fifty participants attended the one-day workshop which took place at the Belize Institute of Management.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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