JIS News

As Jamaica continues to face the protracted drought, dating back to November 2008, Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, has underlined the importance of safe drinking water for all, in a message commemorating World Water Day, today (March 22).
“Each year, World Water Day draws attention to the need to manage our water sources and supplies. This year’s theme, ‘Clean Water, Healthy World’, speaks to the link between safe supplies of clean water, and the physical, and economic health of individuals and nations,” Dr. Chang said.
“At its foundation is the recognition that access to safe drinking water is a vital element in the fight against poverty, hunger and disease. There is no denying that water has a serious impact on the quality of life. The sad truth is that more than one billion people worldwide lack access to clean water, with severe repercussions,” the Minister said.
According to Minister Chang, the World Health Organization (WHO) reports that of the approximately five million deaths that occur annually from water borne illnesses, such as diarrhoea, the majority are from poor developing countries. He added that the loss of production and related health costs associated with these preventable illnesses, add to the economic woes of countries that are burdened with poverty and underdevelopment resulting in persistent poverty.
“The provision of adequate and safe water supplies is a key driver of a government’s economic agenda. The viability of a number of sectors, including manufacturing, tourism, agriculture and the services sector, depends on adequate sources of safe water. It therefore demands that the sensible and sustainable management of water resources must to be high on the agenda if the process of economic growth is to continue,” Dr. Chang said.
He pointed out that Jamaica’s water quality is held in high regard by locals and visitors alike, due to the rigorous treatment it undergoes before distribution, which is in keeping with standards set out by the WHO.
“But preserving the quality and quantity of our fresh water resources, calls for a renewed focus on sustainable management. The intensive use of fresh water means that it is a vulnerable and limited resource,” he said.
The Minister noted that the effects of climate change, increased urbanisation, population increases and environmental degradation are already being felt in the Caribbean and Latin America.
“We have to look no further than the severe meteorological drought being experienced across the region and the significant reduction in surface inflows to our treatment facilities. Countering and perhaps reversing these effects will require increased monitoring, data management, institutional strengthening, the use of appropriate technology, watershed management, collaboration between stakeholders and a strong commitment to conservation among all water consumers,” he said.
“As Jamaica joins the world in observing World Water Day, rest assured that the Government is committed to sustainable and effective management of our water resources as we move towards the Millennium Development Goal of providing access to potable water for all by 2015,” he added.

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