The Water Resources Authority (WRA) and the University of the West Indies (UWI), this morning (April 8), signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to improve knowledge of water resources in the island, and enhance staff and institutional capacity in the water and education sectors.
This will be done through research and development in water resources planning, management, and development.
Speaking at the signing, at the UWI, Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang, said water is one of the critical elements in the development process and is an indicator of the quality of life, but there are not enough experts in this field. “Being a small country, we need to ensure that the entire body of experts and knowledge come together in a collaborative effort, to ensure we can make the kind of decisions required, with the best advice and guidance required,” he said.
Dr. Chang added that the UWI student body and its academic research will benefit from the collaboration, and the WRA’s work. He noted that climate change is topical and therefore, the country must make some critical decisions, as it relates to resource, and management of water, and related resources.
Chairman of the Water Resources Authority (WRA), Mr. Parris Lyew Ayee (left), addresses the signing ceremony for the Memorandum of Understanding between the WRA and the University of the West Indies (UW), which was signed at the UWI’s Mona campus, today (April 8). The MoU is aimed at improving knowledge of water resources in the island, and enhancing staff and institutional capacity in the water and education sectors. Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang (centre), and Principal of the UWI, Professor Gordon Shirley, listen keenly.
“That’s why this collaborative effort is of major significance now. Much work has been done over the years in the department of geology and geography, but a lot of times the university is accused of its research being above the heads of everyone – but it is now the responsibility of agencies, such as the WRA and policy-makers to ensure that this body of research is related to the practical day to day affairs of the country,” Minister Chang argued.
Principal of the UWI, Professor Gordon Shirley, agreed that, “managing water in the short term, medium and long term really requires the development of know-how and systemic analysis.”
He said the WRA has this know-how and that “when we combine it with the kinds of capacities that we have here in the faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences, and the Department of Geology and Geography, and the work that is being done with the Mona Geo-Informatics group, there is enormous potential.”
Minister of Water and Housing, Hon. Dr. Horace Chang (third left); Managing Director of the Water Resources Authority (WRA), Mr. Basil Fernandez (second left), and Principal of the University of the West Indies (UWI), Professor Gordon Shirley (right), sign a Memorandum of Understanding between the WRA and the UWI. The MoU is aimed at improving knowledge of water resources in the island, and enhancing staff and institutional capacity in the water and education sectors. The signing was held at the UWI’s Mona campus, today (April 8). Chairman of the WRA, Mr. Parris Lyew Ayee, is at left.
Professor Shirley lauded the programme, pointing to its “enormous potential.” He noted that the UWI has acted “very quickly” to partner with the WRA in this sharing of research information, and identifying the kinds of projects that would take the agency’s agenda forward. The UWI Principal also highlighted the fact that the collaboration will provide students with the opportunity to work on real projects through internships, which would help them to understand how to leverage their knowledge in assisting with nation building.
He pointed out that the programme will involve the WRA staff in the university’s training programmes, so that even as they impart knowledge, their own will be enhanced.
In his remarks, Chairman of the WRA, Dr. Parris Lyew-Ayee, Jnr stressed the importance of the programme being a university-wide one, as the research components extend beyond the Faculty of Pure and Applied Sciences to economics, and public health, among other areas.
“We need to continue to supply excellent graduates from the UWI to continue to help Jamaica,” Dr. Ayee said, noting the need for more hydrologists and hydrogeologists, and related professionals, in order to secure the continuity of the island’s water resources programme.
In the programme, the WRA will: identify and formulate water resources research projects, in collaboration with the UWI; prepare proposals for funding of water resources research projects in collaboration with UWI; work jointly with the UWI as principal investigators, depending on the nature of the project; and seek funding to facilitate projects.
The agency will also involve students in projects to ensure capacity and institutional building in the water and education sectors; assist with supervision of students in carrying out projects at all levels in collaboration with the UWI; collaborate with the UWI on public education, especially in the areas of disaster management and climate change and their impact on water resources; and provide relevant data to the UWI to facilitate research.
Meanwhile, the UWI’s responsibility is to: identify and formulate water resources research projects in collaboration with the WRA; prepare proposals for funding of water resources research projects in collaboration with the WRA; seek funding to facilitate projects; collaborate with the WRA on public education programmes using research data to highlight water resources problems and recommend solutions.
It will also provide the WRA with information from its research base for collaborative projects, and trained personnel to augment its professional staff; and identify students for projects to build capacity, and for institutional building in the water and education sectors, while addressing manpower needs at the WRA.