• JIS News

    Minister of Water and Housing, Dr. Horace Chang has said that within 10 years, every Jamaican would have access to potable water.
    Recent statistics have revealed that some 70 per cent of the population had access to potable water.
    Speaking at a JIS ‘Think Tank’ Session on February 28, the Minister noted that the figure was heavily skewed towards urban areas and that a detailed breakdown of the statistics showed that less than 50 per cent of the rural areas had access to quality potable water.
    “The mission of the Ministry is to increase this level of access to nearly 100 per cent over the next 10 years,” Dr. Chang said, adding that the Ministry was focusing particularly on bringing water to the rural areas that are currently experiencing significant drought. According to the Minister, the disparity in access to potable water between rural and urban areas exists primarily because it is more costly to take water to rural areas, compared to major towns and cities. “It takes more pipelines to get to each house and the capital cost is intensive . the cost of recovery also tends to be relatively low, because of the density of the population and oftentimes the sources are not as easily accessible,” Dr. Chang explained.
    In spite of these constraints, he maintained that the Ministry was committed to getting water to these areas. “Recently, we identified lands and tendered some 12 rural water supply projects, which will take water to several thousand households across the island,” he pointed out.
    Some seven parishes, including Hanover, St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. Mary, St. Ann and St. Thomas should benefit from this initiative, which is being implemented by the Rural Water Supply Company.
    The Minister informed that the projects are not being implemented on purely commercial grounds, and therefore required budgetary support and also support from the National Water Commission (NWC).
    On completion, the projects are usually handed over to the NWC, but the Minister said there are some instances where they are taken over by the community and operated by small provident societies.
    “There was a tradition where we hand them over to Parish Councils, but the councils are having some difficulty with their capacity to maintain these systems, so we are re-examining this position to see if we can create a requisite agency to handle minor water supplies,” he said.
    According to the Minister, there is need for a minor water supply maintenance system separate from the NWC, because the Commission by policy, was removed from the budget and therefore, had to operate as a business and would not find it fit to operate these small, non-viable operations.

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