The Midsummer Drought (“La Canícula”) is a recurring event that affects Central America and parts of the Caribbean, reducing rainfall in the middle of the rainy season and threatening vulnerable local communities. Climate change is projected to further intensify the damaging impacts of drought in the region, affecting the availability of water needed for irrigation, human consumption and ecosystems.
Published in Spanish in 2018, UNESCO and its member states in the region developed a midsummer drought atlas for Central America and the Caribbean by integrating several regional methodologies into a software package using a homogenous data source (the CHIRPS remote sensing data set). The atlas spatially characterized the drought’s frequency, duration, magnitude and intensity. An English-language version has recently been released and is available at https://unesdoc.unesco.org/ark:/48223/pf0000377790.
The Atlas serves as an important tool for the management of this climate phenomenon, and to inform decision-making across sectors, with the aim to improve policy responses to drought in the region. This is of critical importance, as several Central American countries are considered among the most vulnerable to climate change.
In the long term, the Atlas will provide support to strengthen the region’s water and food security, together with climate resilience. Water resources managers, hydrometeorologists, as well as water and climate policy-makers and practitioners are invited to implement the findings and provide feedback based on the recommendations of this Atlas to strengthen regional risk management capacity.
This document was authored by UNESCO´s Intergovernmental Hydrological Programme (IHP) and the Water Centre for Arid and Semi-Arid Areas for Latin America and the Caribbean (CAZALAC) under the G-WADI Programme. Support came from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the European Commission (DEVCO), the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the Flanders UNESCO Science Trust Fund (FUST).
The original Spanish version of the report is at http://ihp-wins.unesco.org/documents/1186.