CDB approves grant to improve bush fire management in Jamaica

Over the last five years, the incidence of bush fires during the dry season and periods of severe drought has increased in Jamaica. The Board of Directors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) have  approved a grant of EUR 328,000 to the Government of Jamaica to enhance the management of these hazards.

The grant will support the development of an index and services to tackle the threat of bush fires. Specifically, resources will be used to:

  • create a model for bush fire predictions;
  • conduct monitoring and capacity development in two pilot communities;
  • develop a common alerting protocol, which allows a consistent warning message to be shared over many warning systems; and
  • increase public education, awareness and outreach about bush fires in gender-sensitive and socially inclusive ways.

“Bush fires have significant negative socio-economic impacts, particularly on property and the agriculture and forestry sectors in Jamaica. Through this grant, the Government of Jamaica will be better able to monitor and predict thresholds of bush fire outbreaks and increase public awareness about these hazards,” said Daniel Best, Director of Projects, CDB.

In Jamaica, between 1996 and 2005, damage and losses in agriculture due to bush fires were estimated at USD700,000. In 2014, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority reported that over 1,600 hectares of land, valued at over USD8.33 million, were lost or damaged due to drought and fires, affecting more than 16,000 farmers. In 2015, 7,261 bush fires occurred. Currently, such fires account for 63 percent of the total number of emergency calls to the Jamaica Fire Brigade.

The Project will be executed by the Government of Jamaica through the Meteorological Service of Jamaica. Funding will be provided under the African Caribbean Pacific-European Union-Caribbean Development Bank Natural Disaster Risk Management (ACP-EU-CDB NDRM) programme. It is being implemented in the Caribbean Forum of the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, and aims to reduce their vulnerability to long-term impacts of natural hazards, including the potential impacts of climate change.

The intervention approved today is consistent with the ACP-EU-CDB’s target results: improved local, national and regional resilience through strengthened early-warning systems, national risk profiling disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation. It also aligns with CDB’s corporate priorities of promoting disaster risk management and climate change mitigation and adaptation; and improved protection and sustainable management of natural resources.