Caribbean Communities Building Resilience through Water Harvesting

A program to provide funds to purchase and install new water
harvesting and storage equipment in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
has proved successful. Courtesy: Zadie Neufville

By Zadie Neufville
BELMOPAN , Oct 6 2020 (IPS-Partners)

On the Eastern Caribbean (EC) islands of St Kitts’ Nevis,
hotter and fewer rainfall days have begun to impact everyday

Conservation officer Cheryl Jeffers explained that during dry
spells, children are often sent home from school because there is
not enough water for sanitation purposes. The COVID-19 pandemic had
also begun putting more pressure on an already stretched system,
she said.

Down in St Vincent and the Grenadines, many people have no
public water system and no access to rivers or streams. On Canouan,
the more than 1,600 residents must harvest rainwater or purchase
potable water for their household use and other needs. The same is
true for the more than 2,000 residents on Union Island and 350 or
so on Mayreau. Locals complained that with noticeably fewer
rainfall days, the water situation is getting worse.

“The people always say, 30, 40 years ago they could plant
their crops year-round because rainfall was plenty. These days,
most of the food comes from neighbouring islands,†Katrina
Collins Coy, president and founder of the Union Island
Environmental Attackers said. 

Residents complain that the lack of water is also driving up the
cost of living since food is ferried in by boat or planes, and in
the dry season, water is also brought in by boat from mainland St

Both St Kitts and Nevis and St Vincent and the Grenadines are
described as water-scarce by the World Resources Institute, a
global research organisation. They are among the most
water-stressed countries in the world, seven of which are in the
Caribbean, and six of them are in the EC. Water-scarce is the term
given when a country has less than 1,000 cubic meters of freshwater
resources per resident. 

For some time, and certainly, since the 2015 droughts that
affected most of the Caribbean, regional scientists have warned
that countries, particularly those in the Eastern Caribbean could
see declines of between 30 and 50 per cent in their average annual
rainfall. And, as the region faces more periods of drought, things
are expected to get worse in the two island states. 

But, the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC), with
the help of United States Agency for International Development
(USAID) was able to assist by way of a regional project, the USAID
Climate Change Adaptation Program (CCAP).

CCCCC is the regional institution of CARICOM (the Caribbean
Community) with the responsibility for leading climate change
mitigation and resilience building among member nations.

“One of the roles of the CCCCC is to engage with relevant
partners to help countries with adaptation and mitigation
challenges,†said CCCCC’s Keith Nichols. 

“CCAP was developed to help these and other vulnerable
countries in the Eastern and Southern Caribbean to adapt and build
resilience to the impacts of climate change. We were happy to add
these small water systems to the portfolio and also to provide
solar systems as a power source for the pumps as demonstrations of
how the Centre works with countries to reduce the region’s
dependency on fossil fuels,†he explained.  Nichols heads the
Programme  Development and  Management Unit at the CCCCC and is the
USAID-CCAP project manager.

The Program provided funds to purchase and install new water
harvesting and storage equipment in SVG. And in St Kitts and Nevis,
18 schools have been out-fitted with similar systems to ease the
disruptions of the children’s education due to water

Here, Collins Coy’s organisation partnered with the SVG
Government and CCCCC to pilot the water harvesting project. So far,
they’ve installed 178 water harvesting systems – 15,
1,000-gallon water tanks on Mayreau, 58 water tanks of the same
size on Canouan and 105 in homes on Union Island. They’ve
refurbished and covered the Papa Land (aka Bottom Well) and Top
Wells on Union, installing solar panels and pumps to make it easier
for residents to get water. The Attackers have also refurbished one
of the two main reservoirs and catchment on Union Island and
replaced the ageing and leaky pipelines serving the system.

“It has been a pleasure to see the completion of the well,
which makes it easier for us to get water, we just use the tap. No
more struggling with the buckets and rope, Union Islander Gerald
Hutchinson said of the improvements. 

Many islanders like Susan Charles, agree that the project has
made significant and life-altering changes to their access to
water, easing the work of “drawing water from the wellâ€. She
pointed to the gate and fence which were built, and the covers that
keep the water clean.

She added: “We are truly appreciative for the tank, the rains
are coming so I no longer have to buy water, or wait for the
bucket, you simply turn on the pipe.â€

Over in St Kitts, water storage systems are being installed in
primary and secondary schools as well as in nurseries in the
two-island federation. The systems will ease the water problems
experienced by the more than 4,000 students plus faculty in the
beneficiary institutions. The project aims to build resilience by
improving access to water by installing, refurbishing and enhancing
water storage facilities to improve sanitation in 18 schools -11 in
Nevis and seven in St Kitts. 

Jeffers works with the island’s climate change focal point,
the Ministry of Environment, which is piloting the water project.
She explained, “in Nevis, where water shortage is more
pronounced, six cisterns used to capture and store rainwater are
being refurbishedâ€.

Charlestown High School, Nevis’ largest with 778 students and
faculty was the recipient of a 6,000-gallon storage system. The new
system will help to improve water storage capacity and end the
disruptions to the educational institutions during times of
drought, and times of emergencies.  

“The new installations and retrofitting of the existing
systems helps teachers to maximise teaching time,†Kevin Barrett
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education in the Nevis
Island administration said, noting: “Too often we have to dismiss
school because of maintenance or there is some emergency repair of
the lineâ€.

The project has also trained members of the beneficiary
communities in both countries and staff of the institutions to
carry out essential maintenance and servicing, and well as in
simple water purification methods. As guardians of the wells in the
beneficiary islands, the Attackers have undertaken to maintain the
newly refurbished systems.

CCAP has delivered critical equipment to countries across the EC
since the project began in 2016. These include 50 terrestrial
automatic weather stations (AWS), five Coral Reef Early Warning
Systems (CREWS) stations, a Light Detection and Ranging (LIDAR
system) housed at 5Cs in Belize for use by the region, as well as
related data storage equipment. 

The seven are from the Caribbean: Dominica, Jamaica, St. Vincent
and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda,
Barbados and St. Kitts and Nevis.

** The following article was contributed by the
Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC)

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Caribbean Communities Building Resilience through Water
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Source: FS – All – Ecology – News
Caribbean Communities Building Resilience through Water