Guadeloupe, Martinique: From dry season to drought

Guadeloupe, Martinique: From dry season to drought

12 March 2010

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Guadeloupe/Martinique —  As some posts on GV have shown recently [Eng], the Caribbean has been going through a severe drought for the past few weeks.
In the French West Indies, bloggers react to this natural disaster which influences their everyday life and affects even politics.

From January to early June, the French West Indies are in “Carême” – French for the Catholic Lent (a period of fasting and deprivation). The term extends to a season of the year when the rain level is very low and the temperatures very high, a time notorious for the chronic lack of water and extreme dryness of the ground.

In Martinique, Bondamanjak announces the peak of “Carême” with poetry:

“Lent has put on its costume for a dry and white season in Martinique.”

…but doesn’t hide the sizzling reality of the temperatures:

“93°F during the day and….84°F at 7 pm have been recorded.”

Bondamanjak gives further examples of the disastrous consequences of this drought on the environment, when he shares an account of the surprise that Martinicans had this past weekend, when they witnessed a fire near the dome of the island’s volcano, la Montagne Pelée:

“Bush fires are growing and since Sunday, the sides of the Mount Pelée, the highest point of the island, have been burning with the flames. Firemen are busy trying to secure the houses but cannot do anything to contain the fire. The situation requires the use of a water bomber but there is none on the island.”

This situation has raised serious concerns among the Martinican population, prompting the Volcano and Earthquake Observatory of Martinique (OVSM) to release a report on Tuesday, in order to assuage people’s worries. It was republished here by Montray Kreyol:

“Since Sunday, a fire has started in the area of the bed of Rivière Claire, on the southwestern side of Mount Pelée. From Sunday night to Monday night, the fire spread towards the top as far as the domes, and this morning, Tuesday March 9th, smoke is coming up from the burnt-off areas.
The fire and the related smoke were not caused by the volcano’s activity.”

Back in October 2009, the annual “Water Days” were organized in Guadeloupe, in order to raise awareness on the importance of planning and managing water resources on the island. Now, Martinican Montray Kréyol questions this same issue in a post entitled: “About the water shortage”. The blogger concludes that successful management of water resources can only be the result of a strong political commitment.

And speaking of politics, in Guadeloupe, ecological blogger and political figure Harry Durimel, who is campaigning for the upcoming regional elections (March 14th and 21st), wrote a post entitled “the Blue Gold or how to save water”, in which he lists all the tips to save water at home and outside, in this period of water shortage.

Guadeloupeans have been dealing with this difficult situation in their everyday lives, explained here by blogger Géraldine en Guadeloupe, who is rejoicing over the first drops of rain in a month:

“Yeah, it rained: it has been more than a month without any significant rain. Besides, the rainy season was very dry this year, so Guadeloupe looks all burnt up by the sun. The ground is cracking up, plants and lawns are all yellow and snails and frogs have disappeared. Thus, people start talking about restrictions:

-it is forbidden to water the lawns
-to wash the cars in the car washes
-to fill up the swimming-pools
We are now fearing rolling water cuts on the supply network.”

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