CDM - Floods & Droughts
Floods & Droughts


This is an abnormal progressive rise in the water level of streams or rivers which may result in overflowing. Floods in the Caribbean can often be caused by heavy rainfall, dam or levee failures, tsunamis, storm surges or burst water mains.

All floods are not alike. In fact, floods can be classified into three types:

  • Flash Floods

Flash floods develop quickly, sometimes in just a few minutes and without any visible signs of rain. Flash floods are a sudden, large wall of water that carries rocks, mud, and other debris and sweeps away almost anything in its path.

  • River Floods

When water can no longer be removed or stored by the river, flooding occurs. Periodic floods occur naturally on many rivers, forming an area known as the flood plain.

  • Coastal Floods

Coastal flooding occurs when offshore low-pressure systems, like hurricanes, push ocean water ashore – this water is called a storm surge.

A drought is more than no rainfall. A drought happens when you have less rainfall than you expected to for an extended period of time. These can take place at any time of the year, and can last from a few weeks to many months.

As weather patterns change, it makes it possible for droughts to happen. They’re particularly destructive in the Caribbean since so many of our economies depend on the money we get from exporting crops.


Floods – Soil Erosion and Storm Surges

Floods are among the most common, frequent and serious hazards among all disasters in the Caribbean.Flood waters can destroy infrastructure (houses, roads etc.), especially those close to ground level. You can expect considerable water damage to anything in the path of flood waters. Many persons may be killed especially when flash floods occur, but the injuries are usually few. 

The food and water supply may become an issue even long after the flood has passed. Drinking water stored in dams and underground could become contaminated and the necessary purification process could take a while – this would lead to water shortages. Floods also destroy crops and livestock, meaning that there will be a shortage in the country’s food supply.

There is also the outbreak of diseases to consider. For example, leptospirosis and cholera, both of which are caused by bacteria are the results of unclean surroundings.

Everything needs water. Even when we don’t need water, humans tend to use much more water than is necessary on a daily basis. This is why a water shortage is so difficult for us.

Obviously, the drought will impact the agriculture industry. In order to save his crops, the farmer may have to spend money on new irrigation plans. Since he’s now paying more money to provide the crops, he will have to charge more for the produce to make a profit. As a result, the public will have to pay more for food. Some foods will also become “scarce”— meaning the cost of goods will rise.

There will also need to be water outages in order to preserve water. Sometimes, public places like schools, offices and restaurants will have to close when they don’t have water, which can affect the country’s productivity.

During droughts, there may also be an increase in the number of forest fires or bush fires because of the dry conditions.

There are some other issues which result from droughts:

  • Affects education since schools have to be closed if there’s no water
  • Reduces fire fighting capability and also, there’s now a risk to public safety from fires or any other accident that requires large volumes of water immediately.
  • High food -cost foods cause dietary deficiencies
  • Potential for conflicts ( Water user conflicts, Political conflicts, Management conflicts)


1. When?

     September 2004


     Gonaives, Haiti


     Some 3000 people were killed from flood waters caused by the passing of Tropical Storm
     Jeanne. More than a week after this disaster, there still wasn’t enough food to feed all
     those affected by the disaster. The flooding devastated entire communities, displaced ten
     thousands of people, and resulted in sizeable crop and livestock losses. There was also
     damage to highways and village roads which isolated communities from ongoing relief

2. When?

    December 2004 – January 2005




    It was reported in February 2005 that 290,000 residents (nearly 40% of Guyana’s
    population) had been directly affected by the flooding. Shelters had to be built to
    serve 5,600 persons and only boats could be used to evacuate residents and to
    supply food and water. Thirty two thousand persons had no access to assistance
    and 92,000 people had their homes flooded.

    There was also the concern about water borne bacterial diseases, such as
    leptospirosis, it had been estimated that 112 persons may have had the infection.

1. When?





    Considered the worst drought in twenty-five years, in 2009 there wasn’t enough rainfall to
    keep up the water distribution from the National Water Commission’s facilities to many
    parishes in Jamaica. Especially in the case of Kingston and St. Andrew – two of the
    island’s most populated areas.

    As a result, there were as supply restrictions to communities in order to ensure that the
    limited stored water capacity was not completely depleted. The National Water
    Commission lost an estimated 2.2 million dollars in revenues per month as a result.
    Corporate Jamaica also suffered, since some business owners had to pay for water
    trucks to carry water to their business, just so the factories wouldn’t have to close.

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