New Water/Sanitation Project to Benefit Residents of St. Thomas


Magita Forbes of White Horses in St. Thomas is happier now that she has access to sanitation in her home and now that her roof has been replaced.
“I’m very glad. It’s a great help,” she said. Ms. Forbes, who is physically challenged, received financial assistance from the White Horses, Botany Bay & Pamphret Development Benevolent Society (WBP/DBS) to build her bathroom. Assistance also came from Habitat for Humanity Limited and community members who volunteered their services to repair her roof. The bathroom, which was originally outside of her home, was replaced inside and a concrete ramp was constructed at the back entrance of her house to allow her easy access in a wheel chair. A major improvement to her standard of living.
Ms. Forbes is not the only person who has received help from the WBP/DBS. In fact 98 sanitary solutions have been constructed for households in the Whitehorses, Botany Bay and Pamphret communities in St. Thomas.
Since its formation in July 2002, the WBP/DBS, in partnership with several Government organizations and agencies, including the Ministry of Water and Housing, the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ), the Construction Resource Development Centre and the Social Development Commission, has been spearheading community sanitation and hygiene work.
Additionally, the Society is managing a water project under the Rural Water Programme which will serve some 5,000 residents in 750 households in the three communities. The communities have been experiencing inadequate water supply and lack of sanitary services.
“This organization came into being because of the needs of these three communities. The greatest need was for water, but through a survey done in June 2004, we realized that sanitation was of grave concern to the communities,” says President of the WBP/DBS Leonard James in an interview with JIS News.
He explained that a survey done in 2004 to assess the sanitation needs in the Whitehorses, Botany Bay, Pamphret communities revealed that from a sample of 1,045 households, some 186 homes were without toilets and 244 had pit latrines that were in bad condition. As a result, he said, donor agencies were approached by the WBP/DBS for financial assistance to start the sanitation project.
So far, he said, some $4.3 million in grants and loans from the EFJ, the Construction Resources Development Centre and the Coastal Water Improvement Project under the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) have been spent to construct sanitary-ventilated, improved double pit latrines. As part of conditions for funding, residents were asked to prepare the pits for the sanitary solutions and to transport building materials to their homes.
Mr. James explained that without the financial support, it would have cost each beneficiary approximately $60,000 to construct a double pit latrine and $45,000 for the single.
In order to ensure the sustainability of the sanitary solutions, the Benevolent Society recruited three Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) promoters to sensitise residents on proper hygiene practices and the use and treatment of sanitary solutions.
The Chairman said that WASH promoters have been visiting several homes and identified and assisted 10 “hot spot” areas — four in Whitehorses, four in Botany Bay and two in Pamphret — where people were living in particularly deplorable conditions and without the basic sanitary facilities.
“We had to give them the grant to construct the facilities, because we realized that in communities with these problems, the health of citizens was at risk. So in working in these specific areas, we are improving the health and condition of our communities,” he pointed out.
He added that residents could now dispose of their garbage in a proper manner, since the Benevolent Society held discussions with the National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) and arranged for garbage to be collected by NSWMA trucks.
Although the sanitation project is finished, Mr. James said the Society will continue to monitor the “hot spot” areas to provide whatever assistance is needed by citizens. He referred to the recent flood rains which had damaged a number of latrines and said that the Society will assist in repairing them when funds are available.
According to Mr. James, the sanitation problems faced by residents will be fully alleviated when the water system becomes operational. He noted that the construction phase of this project was recently completed and residents will soon have water in their homes with no dependence on the National Water Commission (NWC) or the Rapid Response Unit.
The water project is one of four such projects funded under the Government of Jamaica/Inter-American Development Bank (GOJ/IDB) US$12.5 million loan for community-managed water supply systems. These projects are operated and managed by members of the WBP/DBS who ensure that all the elements necessary for success are dealt with. Workshops are held with the members to equip them with the skills to successfully manage the project.
Mr. James said the water management committee for the St. Thomas project was now in the process of distributing application forms to residents and so far some 170 residents have submitted applications to be connected to the system.
Before the water project began, he said, there were regular demonstrations and road blocks in the communities. “You can see when people expect something, it makes a whole lot of difference. Having this project has reduced the incidence of these protests communities,” Mr. James added.
Robert Bacchus, Managing Director, Bacchus Engineering Works Limited, who has been contracted to spearhead the operations and maintenance of the project, said over 17,000 metres of main and distribution pipe lines have been installed and crossing pipe lines laid in five areas across the Pamphret main road between the former Goodyear factory and the three communities.”The pipelines are at the residents’ gates so all that is left to do is to install the metres after they have paid their fees,” he explained.
In addition, he said investigations are on-going in Stanton Lane, North and South Pond View, Stone View Lane and Santothe Lane in Pamphret to examine the condition of existing NWC pipelines. On completion, a decision will then be taken to either repair the lines or install new ones, he added.
Mr. Bacchus said that workmen are now rebuilding the open trenches along the roadside and installing saddles (pipe fittings to connect the distribution pipelines) along the main road.
“We want to finish all this work within a month. It is just the weather holding us back, so by the end of November we should be finished with the road rebuilding. So at the shortest possible time we should be ready for all communities to get water,” he said.Meanwhile, he said, an office has been set up at the WBP/DBS office in Botany Bay and an office manager employed for the collection of application forms and issuing of payment vouchers. A plumber and meter reader have also been employed for the reading of meters and the distribution of bills.
The Managing Director said that he will operate the water system for a period until the Society’s management committee is fully ready to manage the system.

JIS Social