JIS News

The Ministry of Water and Housing is moving to establish a new International Hydrological Programme (IHP) National Committee to oversee water management and land use across the island.
Water and Housing Minister, Donald Buchanan, told participants at a three-day workshop of the Caribbean United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) IHP National Committee at the Knutsford Court Hotel yesterday (March 17), that already an Executive Act had been signed, which would bring this Committee into being.
The Minister said that the objectives of the Committee were to “ensure that a considerable portion of the budget of this biennium that is dedicated to the Caribbean can be assessed by Jamaica. In addition, the Committee will take advantage of the opportunities under the IHP for the building of capacity to better manage and develop our water resources”.
The Committee will comprise 13 members from the water sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), environmental groups and will be chaired by Basil Fernandez, Chairman of the IHP National Committee and the Managing Director of the Water Resources Authority (WRA).
Mr. Fernandez said that the new Committee, when appointed, would be able to benefit from the funding and programmes of the Regional body.
Meanwhile, Minister Buchanan said that the Government had embarked on several initiatives to improve water resource management across the island.
Some of these initiatives, he said, included improving the surface water and ground water management, the protection of fresh water and to halt the progress of saltwater intrusion into coastal karstic aquifers, which he said was being investigated through a regional project between Jamaica, Barbados and Antigua with funding from the Organization of American States (OAS) and the respective Governments.
“The objective of this project is to determine the mechanism of the intrusion, develop a model that will allow for the optimal use of water resources while reducing salt water intrusion,” he said.
Included in this initiative was also an educational component where the capacity of the respective water authorities would be strengthened, the Minister said.
Commending this initiative, Mr. Buchanan said: “The horizontal cooperation between three Caribbean States through the transfer of technology and the sharing of information is a model for all to emulate”.
Citing other initiatives that were being undertaken by the Government, Minister Buchanan mentioned the Watershed Management, which was being pursued by the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and water sector agencies that were currently reviewing the Watershed Policy with the aim of ensuring more sustainable watershed management.
He said that new investments in watershed management were now being formalized between the Government, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
Commenting on an initiative to improve the quantity and quality of the island’s water resources, the Minister said that this was being addressed through the Water Resources Master Plan. “The Master Plan will identify the areas of surplus and deficit, determine the volumes and present scenarios as to how the surplus should be used to meet the demands. The Master Plan will also prepare a new allocation framework to ensure transparency in the allocation and optimal use of our water resources,” he said.
The workshop is being held under the theme: ‘Global change and water in the Caribbean’. A number of representatives from other Caribbean islands such as St. Lucia, Barbados, Curacao, The Bahamas, the British Virgin Islands, Aruba, Trinidad and Tobago, Cuba, St. Kitts and Nevis, among others, were in attendance.

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