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As Jamaica continues to grapple with severe drought conditions, Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang met recently with International Donor Partners (IDP’s) in the first of a series of discussions to seek assistance to develop the island’s water resources, in order to improve on existing water infrastructure.
Minister Chang reiterated that Jamaica has sufficient water to serve the population but needs investment to develop resources for water distribution. He said that even though the National Water Commission (NWC) “produces 90 million gallons of water per day Kingston and St. Andrew is short of between ten to fifteen million gallons”.
The NWC will now become more “aggressive in non revenue collection as 60%-70% of the water produced is lost”, the Minister said. “It is also the aim of the government, Dr. Chang reiterated, “to expand potable water supply to the rural areas from 45% to 60%.
Minister Chang also pointed out that the Water Ministry is devising strategies to combat the challenges of climate change. The Water Resources Authority (WRA), he said is “implementing a project to assess the potential for rainwater harvesting across the island”. So far a pilot project is being established at the Chatsworth and Maldon Primary Schools in St. James to provide the students with access to potable water and proper sanitary facilities.
On the matter of wastewater treatment, the Minister pointed to the following goals of the NWC:
During the meeting, there was a clear call for the establishment of an IDP working group to provide consultative effort around water issues.
The meeting which was facilitated by the United Nations Development Programme was also attended by representatives from the World Bank, United States Agency for International Development (USAID), International Development Bank (IDB), European Union, Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Chinese and Japanese Embassies. These agencies indicate support for such a working group and indicated willingness to participate. The initiative was also welcomed by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) as the government agency responsible for external cooperation.