CDB water study shows challenges
Initial data from an assessment of the water supply and wastewater management in the region has revealed a number of problems facing Caribbean islands.
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB)-commissioned study was carried out in 2012. President of the CDB, William Warren Smith, said that during the initial assessments, conducted by consultants, the role of regional institutions and funding agencies were evaluated.
“The draft final report is currently undergoing internal review at our bank,” said Smith.
He was speaking during the official opening of the 22nd annual Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) conference and exhibition at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre last week.
Smith said the bank had pumped an estimated US$120 million in the islands for water related projects over the last four decades but there were still a number of technical issues. He was speaking on the topic Water And Wastewater In The Caribbean: The Role Of The Caribbean Development Bank.
He said inefficient water supply networks and inadequate access in rural communities, as well as inadequate wastewater management systems coverage, weak data management capacity, high per capita usage and a shortage of capacity, especially in the areas of planning and risk management, were some of the challenges facing some territories.
Sharing six of the key findings of the report, Smith said: “Rainfall data for the last four decades point to a decline in freshwater availability. We note this trend especially in the northern Caribbean where the decline was as much as 50 per cent in some of our countries. Secondly, we compared per capita consumption in the Caribbean with that of similar regions of the world. It was 50 per cent higher than expected. Thirdly, unaccounted for water across this region ranged from 17 per cent to 66 per cent.
“Fourthly, the percentage of population with connected sewerage systems varied from zero per cent to 30 per cent. Fifth, access to pipe water is less than 90 per cent in four of our borrowing member countries. Finally, in ten of the utilities in all 18 borrowing member countries operational costs exceed revenues being generated by the services provided. That is not a good indicator of sustainability.”
Smith said: “If we accept that water is a key driver of economic and social development then we cannot afford to ignore the signals that these findings are sending to us. Clearly, effective water management must be almost at the top, if not at the top of the list of development priorities of every country in our Caribbean region.”
He said the CDB was currently working with Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Guyana, St Kitts and Nevis and St Lucia to correct some of the issues. (MM)