By Mavrick Boejoekoe
Most recently a District Commissioner responsible for the strategic leadership in a tribal river side community residing in the Sipaliwini district rainforest of Suriname.
Global Climate Change (GCC) is causing shifts in the climates and in weather events all over the world. This change is evident by strengthened hurricanes to periods of extraordinary rainfalls, flooding and rising sea levels. In 2012 Huricane Irma left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean, one of the regions that is most susceptible to GCC. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) (2017) states that GCC can have a great socioeconomic influence on regional sustainability and growth. These changes have a great impact on food security, public health, fresh water availability, and infrastructure. According to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Focus Magazine of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee (CDCC) (2018) an estimate of XCD 331.5 million was encountered in losses due to the Huricane Irma. The infrastructure and social sectors were affected the most by Huricane Irma. Noteworthy is that private sector infrastructure suffered as more than public sector. In the Bahamas there was significant damage done to ports, airports and other large-scale business infrastructure.
Suriname is very vulnerable to these types of climate change, droughts and greater rainfall variability leading to cyclical flooding and some landslides. Severe droughts were recorded in 2004,2005 and 2009 in the district of Brokopondo according to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (2015), resulting in less electricity being released by the Professor Doctor Ingenieur W. J. van Blommestein Dam, which led to increased instances of city wide power outs. Suriname is also experiencing high temperatures of 33celsius and above in the months of September, the height of the dry season. These temperatures have an impact on the use and distribution of electricity to the general population. In 2006 the country was plagued by floods. According to the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (2015), approximately 13.000 people were affected and the cost was approximately111 million Surinamese Dollars of damage to housing, health, education, energy, transport, communications, agriculture, tourism, commerce and trade sectors. In Suriname the most marginalized groups are members of the Indigenous and Maroon (descendants of Africans that escaped the plantations) communities that inhabit the District of Sipaliwini, which covers 93% of the surface of Suriname.
The District of Sipaliwini and Brokopondo were heavily affected and many members of the Maroon communities either had to move to high ground at a loss of personal goods and farm land. Some relocated to the capital city Paramaribo to live with family members. Members of the Indigenous population moved to Brazil and French Guyana to escape the floods. According to USAID (2017) it is the poorest and most marginalized people that suffer from these effects and they live in the areas that are most effected by GCC. In 2015 the Government of Suriname formulated the National Climate Change Policy, Strategy and Action Plan (NCCPSAP).
This strategic plan enables Suriname to build strategies for resilience to offset the impact of climate change. The broader framework of this plan is the CARICOM Liliendaal Declaration (July 2009). This climate change policy emphasizes a partnership with different stakeholders within the government and NGO’s, capacity building, institutional strengthening, awareness raising and partnership with other foreign governments and institutions. These elements will allow the government of the Republic of Suriname to take an important step towards adapting and mitigating the effects of climate change.
ECLAC (2018) Focus Magazine of the Caribbean Development and Cooperation Committee, retrievend from; https://repositorio.cepal.org/bitstream/handle/11362/43446/1/FOCUSIssue1Jan-Mar2018.pdf
Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (2015), Final National Climate Change Policy, Strategy and Action Plan for Suriname 2014-2021, retrieved from: http://dms.caribbeanclimate.bz/M-Files/openfile.aspx?objtype=0&docid=6508
USAID (2017) Global Climate Change, retrieved from: https://www.usaid.gov/barbados/global-climate-change