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State Minister for Housing, Transport, Water and Works, Dr. Fenton Ferguson, has said that the government was working to ensure that all Jamaicans had access to potable water and adequate sanitation, in keeping with commitments under the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
Dr. Ferguson, who was addressing stakeholders at a Water and Wastewater Sector Retreat yesterday (Jan. 17) at the Couples San Souci Resort in St. Mary, said that “this Ministry has been busy in terms of the expansion of water systems all over the island”.
He informed that just last week the Cotterwood water supply unit in St. Elizabeth was commissioned into service, to benefit some 1,900 residents from that community, in addition to Fyffe’s Pen, Sellington, Shrewsbury and Content.
This system, he said, was one of 12 being developed in rural areas of the island under a loan agreement between the government and the Inter American Development Bank (IDB). The others include the White Horses/Botany/Pamphret water supply in St. Thomas; the Gravel Hill system in Clarendon; and the Mile Gully/Warwick Castle system in St. Mary.
“Recently too, contracts were signed for the Broadgate water supply in St. Mary. On completion, that system will serve some 1,200 persons in communities such as Broadgate, Richmond Castle and Margaret’s Hope,”Dr. Ferguson added.
According to the State Minister, the provision of safe water to the Jamaican populace was a critical part of the development process. “That is why various entities are part and parcel of developing strategies to help meet the objective of the MDGs,” he pointed out.
Apart from the Ministry, other agencies/entities involved in this thrust are the National Water Commission (NWC), the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), the parish councils, National Environment and Planning Agency, the Forestry Department, Consumer Affairs Commission, bauxite companies and private entities such as Four Rivers Development and Rio Bueno Water Company.
The United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals commit governments around the world to a clear agenda for combating poverty, hunger, illiteracy, disease, discrimination against women and environmental degradation.
In the area of water resources and sanitation, heads of state pledged in 2000, to reduce by half, the proportion of people, who are unable to reach or to afford safe drinking water by the year 2015 and to stop unsustainable exploitation of water resources. Meanwhile, Jamaica will join the rest of the world in observing World Water Day on March 22 under the theme: ‘Coping with Water Scarcity’.
The theme, Dr. Ferguson said, spoke to the fact that there was a limited supply of water in the world. “Of this very limited supply, Jamaica unlike many other countries around the world, does have enough raw water available for use. The challenge is that this water is not always accessible all year round,” he stated.
The two-day retreat, which is being held under the theme: ‘National Water Sector Policy Driving National Development’, will conclude on Friday (Jan.19).