Feature
Managing Director of the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF), Omar Sweeney, addresses a water day event in the community of Russia in Westmoreland recently. The focus oF the two -day event was the registration of residents for regularisation of their water supply as well as field plumbing and monitoring activities by water wardens in the community.
Photo: Serena Grant

Residents of Russia in Westmoreland are grateful for the water warden programme, which has the objective of ensuring more reliable access to water supply in the community.

Under the Jamaica Social Investment Fund (JSIF) Integrated Community Development Project (ICDP), persons have been equipped with skills in plumbing, with leak detection and water conservation expertise.

They will work with the National Water Commission (NWC) to ensure that residents have access to plumbers in order to fix leaks, thereby reducing water loss and lessening their monthly water bills.

As part of their duties, they will support the NWC efforts to regularise households so that residents can become and remain legal customers.

Krist Lewis, who is among the new water wardens in Russia, tells JIS News that his duties include checking for leaks throughout the community.

He notes that the area has been without regular water supply for some time. “Either the water pressure is low or some persons do not have water, and with NWC and JSIF helping Russia to get water, that is a great thing,” he says.

Sherice Flemming tells JIS News that she was happy for the opportunity to gain a marketable skill.

“I got exposure to certain things that I never dreamed of. I never dreamed of becoming a plumber, so I am happy for the experience. It has even brought me to the decision that I may start selling plumbing equipment or do plumbing work,” she notes.

She says that the effort to regularise water supply in the area is “a good thing… because water is life”.

“I just want to tell JSIF thanks. We really appreciate everything that we are getting done in our community,” she adds.

A total of 93 residents in 18 communities across seven parishes have been equipped as water wardens under the Alternative Livelihood and Skills Development Programme (ALSDP) component of the ICDP, which is being funded by the World Bank.

The training was undertaken over a seven-week period by Change Makers Limited.

The participants completed 11,160 contact hours covering theoretical and practical understanding of plumbing, including the use of hand and power tools, testing pipe systems and equipment and routine maintenance; and water auditing and leak detection, inclusive of how to locate leaks, test water quality and test the flow of the water coming from pipes.

The course also covered soft skills such as personal hygiene, public speaking and how to dress for work.

A water day event was held in the community recently, where residents were given the opportunity to register to regularise their water connection. The day’s activities also included field plumbing and monitoring activities by the water wardens.

Speaking with JIS News, resident Deloris Ricketts says she registered because “I want to get better service, better flow and then I can get to pay my water bill”.

Meanwhile, Managing Director of JSIF, Omar Sweeney, tells JIS News that leading up to the implementation of the programme, meetings were held with residents to discuss the needs of the community.

He notes that over the years, JSIF has upgraded infrastructure in the community by fixing the roadways and improving drainage.

“The intention of the transformation of the Russia community is not simply to come in here and run pipes so you have water. We have to look at a complete transformation and this means that you have to have the other skills, the other services, which are necessary to ensure that the community does not fall back but actually moves forward,” Mr. Sweeney says.

He commended the Russia Benevolent Society for providing support in the implementation of the programme.

He noted that the training the water wardens received has prepared them to deal with issues that may arise with the water supply in the community.

Mr. Sweeney encouraged residents to sign up to regularise their supply and pay their water bills to ensure that their water connection remains intact.

The water wardens programme is being implemented in Barrett Town, Anchovy, Granville and Retirement in St. James; York Town, Treadlight and Canaan Heights in Clarendon; Ellerslie Garden in St. Catherine; Steer Town in St. Ann; Rema, Hannah Town, Greenwich Town, Rose Town, Majesty Garden, Tivoli Gardens, Maxfield and Denham Town in Kingston and St. Andrew, and Russia in Westmoreland.

All communities will take part in the regularisation phase of the programme, except for Anchovy in St. James, Treadlight in Clarendon and Ellerslie Garden in St. Catherine.

The Change Makers team will also provide continuous support to the water wardens for eight months assisting with report writing, and doing at least four routine checks per month in different ICDP communities being audited by the water wardens. Capacity building support will also be provided over the course of the programme’s implementation.

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