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    • The Government is implementing several measures to supply communities with water islandwide during the current period of drought.
    • The Meteorological Service Branch has projected that the country will be experiencing near normal rainfall in some areas and moderately dry conditions up to at least April.
    • Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., said the multisectoral approach to drought management is being undertaken to minimise the effects of the dry period on Jamaicans.

    The Government is implementing several measures to supply communities with water islandwide during the current period of drought.

    The Meteorological Service Branch has projected that the country will be experiencing near normal rainfall in some areas and moderately dry conditions up to at least April.

    Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator the Hon. Pearnel Charles Jr., said the multisectoral approach to drought management is being undertaken to minimise the effects of the dry period on Jamaicans.

    He was speaking at a press conference on drought mitigation, at Jamaica House, on February 6.

    Senator Charles Jr. said a Drought Management Committee, which is a subcommittee of the Integrated Water Resources Management Council, has been established to manage, in a proactive way, the execution of the drought management plan.

    The committee, to be chaired by the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM), consists of representatives from the National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA), Ministries of Health and Wellness; Local Government and Community Development; Economic Growth and Job Creation, RADA, Rural Water Supply Limited, among others.

    “The plan also has within its components drought response activities that are aimed at the rapid intervention for the prevention of loss of lives, protection of health, prevention of loss of livelihood and property,” he said.

    Outlining the Government’s short-term strategies, Senator Charles Jr. said 26 rural water system projects will be completed for 2020, which will bring water to an additional 56,000 Jamaican residents. He said 18 will be completed by March, while eight will be completed by June.

    Some of the projects include Platfield Water Supply System, St. Mary; Charles Town/Kildare, Portland; Ticky Ticky, Manchester; Johnnies Hill and Portland Cottage, in Clarendon.

    He said that 20 catchment tanks will be fully renovated by March 2020, noting that 12 have been rehabilitated, while eight should be completed by the end of March. He said they have the capacity to hold more than 100,000 gallons, which can support a community of 300 people for 30 days.

    Senator Charles Jr. said 38 schools will be fitted with rainwater harvesting systems by March. He added that 20 have been completed, while 18 are at an advanced stage. He pointed out that the systems utilise primarily solar technology for pumping.

    Additionally, he said more trucks will be procured to assist in distributing water to the hardest-hit areas.

    The Minister explained that a set date will be established for the submission of all invoices for payment from Municipal Corporations, which will be processed within the month.

    “During the drought period, the fee for sterilisation is proposed to be waived, something which several truckers that we have interacted with and engaged have indicated as one of the obstacles to them doing more trucking,” he noted.

    Senator Charles Jr. said the Government’s efforts to distribute black tanks will be ramped up to assist Jamaicans to increase their storage capacity.

    He said more than 100 one-thousand-gallon storage tanks have been distributed to the hardest-hit communities, noting that some of the tanks are placed in central areas to increase capacity of storage.

    Senator Charles Jr. reminded Jamaicans to recycle where possible, check and fix leaks in their homes and retrofit homes with water-saving taps.

    “We are improving our infrastructure, we are improving our maintenance systems, we are introducing systems now that will ensure greater sustainability, we are enhancing communication and we are increasing capacity,” he said.

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