Island can never fully protect against drought, says Martin

The cost of protecting St Helena from future droughts may be unaffordable, water engineer Martin Squibbs has warned.

He said: “Some things are just not manageable. We are dependent on things we can’t really foresee, let along make provision for.

“We just don’t have the money, and DfID [the Department for International Development] are unlikely to give us the money.

“So we have to do what we can with the resources we have.”

He cited current severe flooding in Central Europe to argue that the forces of nature can simply overwhelm resources.

He said the 2013 crisis was an opportunity to take stock of the island’s ability to cope and make improvements.

But he added: “If the reality is that if this is an event that doesn’t happen very often, it’s an exceptional Act of God or call it what you like, then maybe we have to look at the contingency plans and not alleviate the root cause of problems, because we can’t.”

At a press briefing on Monday, chief of police Peter Coll was asked about the cost of bringing in pumps and piping from Cape Town.

He replied: “I don’t think we’ve even costed it out yet. That’s part of the exercise that’s taking place. But there will be a cost to pay, of course.

“This equipment clearly needs to be there for the future.”

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