Residents of Pleasant Valley Benefit from Modern Water Harvesting System

Photo: JIS Photographer Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill (left), cuts the ribbon to a solar power system, to be used for operating the Pleasant Valley water catchment facility, in Clarendon, recently. Others sharing in the occasion are (from second left): Programme Manager for the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica, Allison Rangolan-McFarlane; Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Dr. Arun Kashyap; and National Coordinator for the Global Environment Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP), Hyacinth Douglas.

Story Highlights

  • More than 1,500 residents of the Clarendon community of Pleasant Valley, are now benefiting from a state-of-the-art solar powered rainwater harvesting system.
  • Residents were urged to take ownership of the project, as it is providing a precious resource for them.
  • The Council saw the project as valuable to the community, and provided technical skills to ensure that it was built according to standard.

The more than 1,500 residents of the Clarendon community of Pleasant Valley, are now benefiting from a state-of-the-art solar powered rainwater harvesting system, which has come about through a multi-agency partnership.

Leading the effort for the project was the Clarendon Parish Development Committee (PDC) Benevolent Society, with technical support from the Clarendon Parish Council, land donation by Jamalco, co-ordinating support from the Pleasant Valley Development Committee, and funding from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ), and the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP), through its Global Environmental Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP).

“I welcome this rainwater harvesting project in Pleasant Valley, and deem it an important addition to the climate change adaptation initiatives being pursued elsewhere in the island. I am happy to see that Pleasant Valley has returned to what I consider to be one of the oldest and most effective means of ensuring a steady water supply, particularly for drought plagued areas,” stated Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, at the recent commissioning of the system.

Former Chairman of the Clarendon PDC, and current Custos of the parish, Hon. William Shagoury, urged the residents to take ownership of the project, as it is providing a precious resource for them.

“This is your lifeline for water, as once we have rain, we will always have water.  You have to protect it. Water is life, and this is your life,” the Custos told the residents.

Mayor of May Pen, Councillor Scean Barnswell, informed that the Council saw the project as valuable to the community, and provided technical skills to ensure that it was built according to standard.

“We rehabilitated the storage tank, and put in place some (plastic) tanks where citizens can get water. It is pumped from the storage tank, which is underground. The power supply to that tank is from a solar system, so there is little maintenance,” he said.

“We are looking at implementing similar projects across the parish, where we have similar water challenges. The residents must take care of this, and ensure that it is free from vandalism, and persons don’t abuse the water,” the Mayor said.

For Programme Manager at EFJ, Allison Rangolan-McFarlane, the organization’s contribution of $2.2 million will help build capacity of the residents and improve their livelihood.

“This project is geared towards strengthening the adaptive capacity of farmers, through the installation of a solar electrification system and construction of earth water harvesting pond to combat the effects of climate change. Through these mechanisms, the catchment facility will serve to support the economic and social well-being of the over 1,500 residents,” she said.

Lauding the partnership that ensured completion of  the water system, UNDP Resident Representative, Dr. Arun Kashyap, said it is a “delightful example of how community efforts can leverage catalytic funding and mobilize its constituents to meet basic needs, and in a manner that strengthens their resilience and enhances capacities that empower them.”

“Improving water supply to the community of Pleasant Valley, and reducing their vulnerability, the project increases appreciation of the vital need for demand side management of this precious resource,” Dr. Kashyap  said.

Meanwhile, Secretary of the Pleasant Valley Development Committee, Dennis Burrowes, said the system would help to sustain agro ecosystem activities in the targeted communities; and build awareness about the productive use and care of rainwater harvesting ponds, aimed at “promoting sustainable food security, sanitation and shared growth.”

Preparing the community to help sustain the project, some 40 persons were trained, including ten children, in watershed management, and rainwater harvesting.

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