Access to Clean Water Essential to Poverty Alleviation


Minister of State in the Ministry of Water and Housing, Everald Warmington, has said that access to clean water is essential to the process to alleviate poverty and to accelerate the movement towards sustainable development.
“Any poverty alleviation strategy we undertake will be useless and inefficient without the provision of safe and adequate supplies of potable water,” Mr. Warmington stated, as he addressed a workshop and discussion forum on ‘Social Water in Jamaica’ on Wednesday (Dec.10) at the Liguanea Club in New Kingston.
Without potable water supplies, he noted further, “we cannot hope to attract the level of investment we need to drive the economy. Any sector you can think of needs an adequate supply of water to properly function.”
He said that it is often women and children that suffer the most from lack of access to clean water “as they spend long hours fetching and carrying water. This is time that could be spent in school or at some other productive enterprise that could benefit their families.”
Social water refers to the provision of potable water to persons, who are unable to pay the full cost for the service. Jamaica’s Water Sector Policy and Action Plan states that potable water should be available to all citizens in such quantity and quality as to sustain life, irrespective of the citizen’s ability to pay.
Mr. Warmington acknowledged that providing water is a costly exercise, but suggested measures to recover the cost of the commodity that is supplied to the poor at a lower rate.
“Some of the measures are tariffs and user fees as well as cross-subsidies, meaning that some customers pay more for the cost of the service so that other customers can receive service,” he stated, while also recommending direct subsidises from the national budget.
Mr. Warmington noted that the issue must be addressed in order to improve the lives of the poor, and to achieve the Millennium Development Goal.
Managing Director of Environmental and Engineering Managers Limited, Ianthe Smith, said that funding of community social water must continue to be the responsibility of the state. She recommended that the Government continues to use existing funding sources, such as Government funds, donor grants, loans and community equity, to supply the commodity.
In presenting her findings from a study on social water, which was commissioned by the Ministry of Water and Housing, Ms. Smith said that the commodity is provided to communities via communal mechanisms such as standpipes, so there is no distinction between those who can pay and those who cannot. “It is viewed as a benefit to these communities rather than a benefit to individuals/households. There is no mechanism in place to provide social water to individuals, primarily as there are very few communities, where the majority of persons are poor, with individual and household water connections,” she indicated.
Ms. Smith noted that most rural communities are likely to be recipients of social water and recommended that these areas be looked at during preparation of the Rural Water Master Plan.
The workshop, organized by the Ministry of Water and Housing, was held in association with the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) Rural Water Programme.

JIS Social