JIS News

Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang, has welcomed a Regional Workshop on the ‘Integration of Sanitation Policies into National Development Plans of Caribbean Countries’ to be held at the Knutsford Court Hotel in Kingston on April 28 and 29.
The workshop will analyse the current sanitation situation in Caribbean countries, look at operational strategic issues and work at practical solutions to common problems. It will see a coming together of country representatives and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) from within the Caribbean.
This workshop comes at a time when the Ministry of Water and Housing is taking another look at the formation of a National Sanitation Policy, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health and Environment.
The process of re-engaging the National Sanitation Policy is expected to raise national attention on the issues of integrated water resources management and complement the work being done by the Task Force on Water and Sanitation, as part of Vision 2030, a national development plan for Jamaica.
Sanitation and the availability of potable water are inextricably linked as 70 per cent of Jamaicans in urban areas have access to piped water, while the percentage in rural areas is at 45, according to Minister Chang in an interview with JIS News.
“We will therefore continue to address the needs of those communities that are plagued by inadequate supply, in order to ensure that every household in Jamaica has access to safe, clean, drinking water,” he assured.
“In some of our drier areas, alternative measures such as rainwater harvesting, are being explored to ensure adequate supplies, particularly throughout the dry period,” Dr. Chang said.
In the meantime, he continued to encourage conservation, and urged Jamaicans to turn off all taps when not in use, and fix leaks around the home. He also entreated persons to protect watersheds by planting and preserving trees.
As the United Nations celebrates International Year of Sanitation in 2008, the Government will continue to place emphasis on those Jamaican households without sanitation facilities and access to piped water.
In the meantime, community-based research from the Ministry under the Rural Water Programme has found that women and children are most adversely affected in areas where water has to be fetched, as they spend hours in this activity. This has economic implications, as the time could be more productively spent to positively impact the earning potential of poor families.
Adequate disposal of non-biodegradable plastics and electronic waste is another concern, especially in areas which are not convenient to curbside collection of garbage. This is compounded by the fact of the inadequacy of public sanitation facilities in some areas.