The capacity of National Water Commission (NWC) to provide efficient service to Jamaicans has been boosted, through $128.7 million (US$1.48 million) in funding from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
Minister of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change, Hon. Robert Pickersgill, signed the grant agreement on March 28 at his Dominica Drive office in Kingston.
Of the total allocation, US$1.18 million will go towards strengthening the institutional capability of the NWC through the improvement of management practices, planning and project implementation to ensure achievement of the objectives of the Kingston Metropolitan Area Water Supply Improvement Project (KMA). It will also finance contracting and consulting activities for the project, including the procurement of goods.
Also to be undertaken is design work for a Rural Water Supply Development Strategy and Action Plan (RWDS) and a review/update of the Ministry’s Water Sector Policy, at a cost of US$300,000.
Minister Pickersgill informed that the grant will be managed and executed by the NWC, noting that it is expected to benefit all Jamaicans, who receive water services from the company.
“I hope that this project will be quickly and effectively put into effect to the benefit of our country and our people, as the overall goal is improved capability, capacity, efficiency and cost effectiveness,” he stated.
NWC President, Albert Gordon, said the signing marked a very critical juncture in the transformation programme being undertaken by the company.
The transformation effort, he said, is aimed at achieving two major objectives – universal access to safe drinking water within the next 10 years, and ensuring that all major towns across Jamaica have central sewage systems that are compliant with the applicable environmental standards. He informed that currently, only four major towns have such facilities.
Mr. Gordon said the NWC will be working to rehabilitate the existing aged and under-maintained water supply and sewage systems, as well as to expand and configure where necessary, based on the demand pattern.
The grant funding, he said, will assist these efforts, by building the capacity of the NWC “so that we are better able to execute our projects and that our operations can be more sustainable going into the future."
The NWC President expressed gratitude to the IDB for the financial support, noting that the institution has been a “very close partner as the NWC embarks on its transformation project”.
IDB Country Representative, Ancille Brewster, said the grant facility puts in motion, “the first steps towards the outfitting of the KMA Water Supply Improvement Project loan”, which he stated “is one of the largest investment loans that the IDB as made in Jamaica in recent years and underscores our deepening cooperation and partnership with the NWC".
“The strengthening that we expect to carry out through this grant facility will, of course, raise the levels of service provision by the NWC, and it will be benchmarked to international standards,” he stated.
Mr. Brewster said the IDB is also cognisant of the fact that water scarcity in rural communities needs to be addressed, to improve the conditions of significant pockets of lower income persons in these areas, and so welcomed the move to develop a Rural Water Supply Development Strategy.
By Athaliah Reynolds-Baker, JIS Reporter