C'bean urged to do more to deal with challenges of water management

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

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GEORGETOWN, Guyana (CMC) — The Executive Director of the Barbados-based Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), Ronald Jackson, says the region must bridge existing fundamental gaps if it is to effectively address the challenges in relation to waste and water management particularly in times of disasters.

“We've not sat down and tackled the fundamental gap that will change the dimensions of how we plan which is information, data the absence of risk-informed strategies,” said Jackson, who noted that threats like hurricanes are not new to the region but there has not been comprehensive planning
Jackson was part of a panel discussion participating in the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) conference that examined innovative and creative ways to manage water and waste resources when disaster strikes.

Jackson said the “absence of information, risk-informed tools to be able to make decisions and develop our contingency plan that's the missing elements” adding there's also a lack of resources also poses a challenge to disaster response as it relates to water management.

“I don't think there is a shortage of thinking, of personnel in the region, of capabilities that can be thrown at the problem. It really came down to resources as the major in the response overall,” he said, noting that at the national level, there is a need to better understand the risk in the environment.

Apart from these, the region must also examine better “build back methods” including rainwater harvesting and public-sector storage in the aftermath of disasters,” he told the conference.
Earlier, Guyana's Communities Minister Ronald Bulkan called for stronger integration of CWWA member states to better address water management in the region and the threat of climate change to populations that inhabit coastal areas and small island states.

Bulkan told the conference, which ends on Friday, that the problem must be tackled “frontally and collectively” since it is too large for individual responses.

He said that the among the expected outcome of the conference is a white paper addressing overall governance in the water sector, integrating and emphasising access of vulnerability to climate change and elements of a strategic plan for water governance and climate resilience.

“Implicit in those is the acknowledgement that disasters are now occurring with greater frequency that makes building climate resilience in the water sector an urgent necessity and that stronger regional cooperation has to be forged.”

Baulkan said that Guyana also recognises the need good water governance and effective infrastructure hence, its direction in the green state development strategy.

CWWA president, Alphonsus Daniel, underscored the destruction of the water infrastructure caused by recent hurricanes in the region and commended member states for assisting the affected countries.

“The responses by our members of the CWWA to reach out with engineering skills and assist them (Caribbean countries) with rapid assessments of the affected water infrastructure was tremendous,” Daniel indicated.

Chief Executive Officer, Guyana Water Incorporated, Dr Richard Van-West Charles, said that the conference is being held at a time when the region is dealing with the devastation caused by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in the Caribbean resulting in several deaths and billions of dollars in damage.

“As we grapple to respond to the effects to these hurricanes the question is, has there been the required focus over the last nine years and could these results which we witness today could have been mitigated. May I suggest that these issues remain a major concern and the critical agenda item for action by the high-level ministerial forum of 2017,” said Van-West Charles.

The CWWA conference is being held under the theme “Promoting innovation and creativity in water, waste water and waste management.”

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