Antigua & Barbuda has always been regarded has a “ dry place”, and a “flat country.” These two descriptions have been wrong and have been totally misleading.
Those who would wish to explore the island of Antigua would get the surprise of their lives if they tried to explore this extremely hilly country on foot. Barbuda is partially flat but has its section that has been dubbed “ The Highlands ”.
The climate of Antigua is superb and has been and continues to be a unique place with a pattern of rainfall that is peculiar, but expected. Those who are aware of the pattern have built their houses with cisterns and other forms of preserving water that ought to be adequate protection against the recurring, seasonal, dry spells.
However, when the expected dry weather persists and holds the country in one of its extended grips, those who do not understand the seasonal recurring pattern complain and fuss.
We know that complaining will never be able to solve this naturally recurring problem. We wonder how many people do know that several times during its history as a settlement, Antigua has had to import water?
Somehow, in spite of the recurring spells of dry weather, some people who seem to be in charge of the development of housing extensions have systematically been filling in ponds and watercourses. Then, when the rains do come, all hell seems to break loose. The water seeks its original course and presents engineering problems areas where the ponds have been filled in and the watercourses blocked.
There seems to be no co-ordination, correlation, or communication between the agencies that plan these physical horrors, the agencies that execute them and the permanent bodies that are designed to oversee them and perhaps, eventually correct them.
At the risk of sounding like a broken record, why can these agencies not communicate and co-operate?
It is obvious that the process by which permission ought to be granted is flawed. Let us fix it and correct what seems to be wrong.
Once again, the drought has recurred. Many farmers have untethered their animals and let them loose. In the countryside dozens of donkeys roam free in spite of valiant attempts to round them up and contain them. Dozens of horses create serious traffic hazards and seem unable to be caught because, officially, they have no owners. Untethered cattle walk the highways at will and even though they seem oblivious to the dangers that they pose to motorists, manage to manoeuvre themselves between the rushing vehicles and escape unhurt.
We could talk about the hundreds of goats and sheep that cross and recross the highways in their quest for water and food. It is a peculiar symbiotic relationship, but life goes on and the traffic continues to flow. The question is often asked. “ What should we do? What ought we to do?” The answer lies primarily with the Department of Agriculture. They have the experts and the manpower. Our advice is, to clean the ponds and dams. Clear the watercourses. Prepare for the inevitable deluge that will come, for come it will. Be prepared to face it, for when it comes, the drought will seem as if it had never occurred.