Costa Rica is suffering from two climate related disasters at the same time: flooding at the Atlantic Coast and drought in the central area and on the Pacific Coast due to the consequences of El Nino. Both have the status of national emergency and are coordinated by the National Commission on Risk Prevention & Emergency Response (CNE). CNE falls directly under the Office of the President.

The government of Costa Rica has requested the Dutch Risk Reduction Team (DRR-Team) to advise in this critical situation. To answer to this request a first scoping mission (November 23 to 29, 2015) took place to make an inventory of the challenges related to the drought and to identify potential measures to reduce risks. The mission started with the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the CNE and our Ambassador Mette Gonggrijp. A second mission will take place next year and will focus on flood risk management.

The mission included a fieldtrip to Guanacaste and meetings were organized with several governmental authorities, the private sector, development banks and the National University. The program was developed in close cooperation with the Netherlands Embassy in San Jose and was led by Klaas de Groot from Arcadis. He was accompanied by Patricia Trambauer of Deltares, she is an expert on early warning systems and mitigation of drought related impacts. The mission team represented the Dutch Water Sector and results will be made available as soon as possible. If information is required at short term, please get in touch with Klaas de Groot, For an impression watch this video.

During the mission immediate measures as well as midterm and long term measures were identified. Added value of the Dutch Water Sector in the implementation of the measures was discussed. Immediate measures are related to increasing availability and decreasing demands. Measures to reduce risks in the future include aquifer recovery, re-use of treated waste water, governance, master planning and early warning systems. CNE will evaluate these ideas and where possible include these initiatives in the emergency program that will be carried out over the coming five years.

See also the photo report.