I am acutely aware that some of our critical institutions, more so schools, could be impacted by the ongoing dry period that the island continues to experience, especially at the opening of the new school term.

Our most recent information from the Meteorological Service is that the Southern parishes of St. Elizabeth, Manchester, Clarendon, St. Catherine and Kingston and St. Andrew, as well as the North Eastern Parishes of St. Mary, Portland, and St. Thomas, are experiencing severe to extreme drought. The projection is for these parishes to continue to receive below normal rainfall.

In light of that information, the Ministry is paying special attention to the reopening of schools as schools, as well as hospitals and infirmaries especially in those communities that are adversely affected by the severe drought.

As such, I want to give every assurance that the National Water Commission, in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government, will be doing their utmost to supply water to the affected areas, so that the new school term will commence as smoothly as possible.

Already, The NWC has been assisting some schools in the Corporate Area, that are experiencing challenges with their supply, and are without storage capacity, by providing a number of black tanks to these institutions.

However, I am encouraging all schools to establish additional facilities for storage, so that in the absence of regular supplies water may be supplied to them and stored.  After all, we are all aware that “water is life”.

The Prime Minister has instructed that a meeting be held among the Ministries of Water, Land, Environment and Climate Change; Education Health Local Government, and Agriculture, after which a more comprehensive statement on the situation will be issued  early next week.

In the meantime, let us all continue to conserve  that precious commodity, water.

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