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Cuba – Drought – Emergency Plan of Action DREF Operation n° MDRCU003 Final Report

Cuba: Drought – Emergency Plan of Action DREF Operation n° MDRCU003
Final Report

REPORT from International Federation of Red Cross And Red Crescent
Societies Published on 24 Mar 2017 — View Original
reliefweb.int/sites/reliefweb.int/files/resources/MDRCU003dfr.pdf

Description of the Disaster

A long continuous drought combined with heavy rainfall attributed to the
El Nin?o phenomenon and climate change over the past two years brought
difficult times for Cuba. In recent years, rainfall patterns during both
the dry and rainy seasons have not reached normal historical values,
which has caused a decrease in groundwater resources and the drying up
of the rivers and dams on which the population depends on for its water
supply.

Cuba is now suffering from the effects of climate change, especially
temperature rise and a severe drought, which is considered the worst in
the last 115 years. Decreased accumulated rainfall for more than 12
months caused the country’s dams to drop 38 per cent below their
capacity; in addition, 98 water reservoirs were below 25 per cent and 26
were completely dry at the time of the writing of this report.

The National Institute of Water Resources (INRH for its acronym in
Spanish) reported that the situation was getting more complex and
critical due to the long drought and the continuous drop in the levels
of the dams. The driest groundwater basins were in the Eastern region of
the country, especially in the Santiago de Cuba province, which has a
population of 1,057,404 inhabitants: 71 per cent in urban areas and 29
per cent in rural areas. With less than 30 per cent of water capacity in
reservoirs and rainfall dropping below historical averages, this region
was facing one of the most severe droughts in the country’s history.

The province of Santiago de Cuba has nine municipalities, four of which
were the most affected by the drought: Santiago de Cuba, Palma Soriano,
III Frente and Guama?; the drought affected approximately 520,560 people
(94,000 families), and urban areas were the most seriously affected. May
is considered the rainiest month in Cuba (onset of the rainy season);
however, rainfall has decreased significantly due to climate
variability, particularly in Santiago de Cuba. The beginning of the
rainy season (from May to October) was affected by the El Nin?o–Southern
Oscillation (ENSO) event, which has persisted in the equatorial Pacific
Ocean since early 2015, reaching its peak in November of the same year.
Currently, most models forecast a transition to a neutral condition
during spring in the Northern Hemisphere and show the likelihood of La
Nin?a re-emerging during the summer.

Usually when a strong El Nin?o event decreases in the tropical eastern
Pacific Ocean, rainfall during the onset of the rainy season tends to
drop below average, particularly between May and June; nonetheless, it
is important to note that not all El Nin?o events behave similarly due
to the changing patterns of ocean-atmospheric circulation.

The Cuban government has been supplying drinking water through water
trucks; however, the long drought has exceeded their capacity and
therefore a relief intervention is needed. In this regard, the
government set up a water distribution system based on water cycles,
which consisted of supplying water during a 24-hour period to specific
areas and then suspending the service for several days, which affected
water storage at the household level. For this reason, government
authorities and the Cuban Red Cross identified a great need in the
communities for water containers to increase water storage capacity in
households and meet the affected families’ needs. The provision of
1,500-litre water tanks to health centres with the aim of increasing
their water storage capacity was also been identified as a priority;
other actions included the provision of 200-litre tanks and 10-litre
buckets for the storage of drinking water in households.

Source: Cuba: Drought – Emergency Plan of Action DREF Operation n°
MDRCU003 Final Report – Cuba | ReliefWeb –
reliefweb.int/report/cuba/cuba-drought-emergency-plan-action-dref-operation-n-mdrcu003-final-report

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