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Water infrastructure in Clarendon expanding with UNDP funding


THE Clarendon Municipal Corporation has been making strides in providing farmers and residents of Clarendon Northern and other areas in the parish with potable water, Mayor Winston Maragh has announced.

This was made possible, he said, through a US$6.45-million United Nations Development Programme (UNDP] project to supply northern Clarendon and west Kingston with potable water.

Maragh was speaking Monday as a panellist during a “World Water Day” conference at which he highlighted that the municipal corporation has been constructing new water supplies and catchment tanks, added to its monthly responsibility of trucking over 1,600 loads of water to residents, which he said was an expensive venture especially considering a decline in property, and tax collection.

“Most persons call me the water mayor because most of my discussions are around developing strategies to improve water access to all. Water harvesting continues to be one of the main strategies, especially in northern Clarendon. It is my mandate as mayor to bring water to as many communities as possible which are not serviced by the National Water Commission.”

The mayor announced that a catchment tank will be built in the Leisterfield area in the Frankfield Division. Maragh and his team was also overseeing the construction of a water supply system in the community of Coxwain. The team is also rehabilitating a tank in the Pipehill community, which was out of commission for roughly 40 years.

“It now supplies the Thompson Town primary and high schools, as well as a number of householders in that community. This tank is constantly being replenished from a nearby spring, which before was going to waste. We do have other areas in the parish in which we have been working and expanding our water supply system. We are not only concentrating on the northern section. We have also been working on the southern.

“We will expand the National Water Commission system there as well and into communities that didn’t previously have any water at all, like Salt River, Mitchell Town and those communities on the south. Recently, we did a community called Brandon Hill in the north, which didn’t have any water before. We have put in that water system. We are doing catchment tanks at Dawkins in James Hill. We have been trying to see how best we can get water to our people. Partnerships with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have afforded us opportunities over the years until today to rehabilitate a number of rainwater harvesting systems and we are thankful,” the mayor said.

UNDP country representative, Denise Antonio, said that the programme is committed to ensuring that Jamaica closes its water inequality gap.

“Can you imagine that only 63.9 per cent of Jamaicans in the rural areas have access to an improved source of drinking water, compared to 99 per cent in the capital and 88 per cent in urban areas? Hospitals and households need water to sanitise and sustain health. We all know that our bodies require water as a necessity for survival. Because of a lack of water, this causes inequality, growth stagnation, disease and poverty. That is why UNDP remains committed to supporting countries to harvest rain and underground water because of its proven impact on other areas of the economic growth cycle.

“Our strategic partnership with 128 communities around the country has helped expand water storage capacity by a combined 2.2 million gallons over seven years. We are encouraged by reports that these projects have continued to help to mitigate the impact of climate change by channelling potable water into pipes and reversing downturns in crops harvest cost by droughts. We are especially gratified that access to potable water may prove helpful in supporting the local fight against COVID-19 that we are experiencing in our communities today and it has proven to particularly successful in boosting crop harvest.”

She added that the UNDP is a proud member of the UN group that is tasked with implementing a human security joint programme to demonstrate how access to water strengthens resilience to crises.

“I can announce that through this project, we have established 20 on-farm water management systems, collaboratively with farmers on their plots. We have rehabilitated water harvesting systems to provide potable water to communities in northern Clarendon which lack access to water. We have been able to establish household and community level water treatment demonstration systems in recycled water. UNDP is honoured to make a modest contribution to government’s expanding programme of efforts to expand water harvesting and access to underserved communities in Jamaica.”

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