BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — Water specialists from across the region have been meeting in Barbados to continue work on the development of a regional strategic plan for the water sector. The plan will propose possible solutions for the challenges facing the industry in the Caribbean, and will be presented at the eighth World Water Forum to be held in Brasilia, Brazil, in March.
The development of a strategic plan for the water sector in the Caribbean Region project is being supported by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA).
Despite several initiatives, many countries in the region still struggle to provide potable water at an affordable rate, while covering operating costs. L. O’Reilly Lewis, division chief, Economic Infrastructure Department, CDB, said that some of the problems facing the water sector included issues posed by climate change, inadequate governance arrangements, and lack of financing and investment.
“Pipes and water treatment plants alone will not solve our water challenges. The problem is much deeper than failing infrastructure. Excessive water usage, inadequate management of water resources, weak policies and governance systems also contribute to unsustainable water supply service provision in the Caribbean. We, at the CDB, believe that the approach has to be a holistic one and there must be collaboration between the countries and amongst the various organisations,” Lewis said.
This project is expected to facilitate regional dialogue on the critical issues facing the water sector, resulting in the development of a clear strategy. It will also enable CDB to better support its borrowing member countries in implementing policies, projects and programmes in the water sector.
Patricia Aquing, executive director, CWWA, said that the development of the strategic plan is a positive step for the region.
“We have to be able to think ahead, and consider, how do we do this strategically? How do we go from fixing when your pipe goes down, or your sewer system erupts, to thinking ahead to how we manage this resource which we have,” Aquing said.
The regional coordination meeting for the development of a strategic action plan for water governance and climate resilience ended on February 21, 2018, at the Pan-American Health Organisation offices in Barbados. Approximately 20 representatives from water ministries and organisations in the region attended the session.