Editorial

Poor water supply unacceptable

Wednesday, April 09, 2014    

Print this page Email A Friend!


Jamaicans are so habituated to poor government over the last 30-40 years that we have come to accept inadequate standards for state-provided services such as in education, security, water, roads, health, public transportation and the like.

The key functions of a government are to keep law and order within its boundaries, protect its borders from invasion by external enemies and create and maintain the conditions for human survival and hopefully human development.

The availability of adequate supplies of potable water is part of the minimum conditions for human existence. If water is the criterion for judging the establishment of the conditions for humans to thrive then we are getting a failing grade.

At least once a year, and in some areas almost all year long, there is a water shortage. How severe and how prolonged the shortage and lock-offs depend on where one lives. Ironically, in the old days people ensured that they had water year-round by their own domestic catchment and storage facilities. This self-reliant system has fallen into disrepair because people have been encouraged to sign onto the national water supply system. Some people still have unused catchment and storage facilities while experiencing water lock-offs.

Jamaicans have been lulled into a false sense of security that the National Water Commission will always be able to supply adequate amounts of water to everyone; if only it would improve the efficiency of its operations. This is a fallacy because the problem starts with the absence of a policy on water, regrettably because of complacency that there is enough rainfall and ground water to serve the needs of the country well into the future.

Jamaicans have been lulled into a false sense of security that the National Water Commission will always be able to supply adequate amounts of water to everyone; if only it would improve the efficiency of its operations. This is a fallacy because the problem starts with the absence of a policy on water, regrettably because of complacency that there is enough rainfall and ground water to serve the needs of the country well into the future.

Because of inadequate management of the 10 hydrological basins in Jamaica, one in four Jamaicans — most of them in the poorest 20 per cent of the population — do not have access to piped water. The symbols of this failure are the large, ugly, expensive water storage tanks that disfigure the landscape in the more affluent areas and at every business, school, hospital and public building.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) last week issued a report titled Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability, detailing the impact of climate change to date, the future risks from a changing climate, and the opportunities for effective action to reduce risks. The report concluded that the effects of climate change are already occurring on all continents and the global community, in many cases, is ill-prepared for the related risks and lack the capacity to respond to such risks, which will only get worse with higher levels of warming.

Is it too much to ask of any government that all Jamaicans be guaranteed a reliable, accessible, affordable, year-round supply of a minimum of 1,000 cubic metres of potable water per capita? This is the internationally accepted minimum requirement and, given Jamaica's climate, geography and water resources, it's a perfectly attainable target.

ADVERTISEMENT

POST A COMMENT

HOUSE RULES

 

1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper – email addresses will not be published.

2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.

3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.

4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.

5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.

6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.

7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy



comments powered by Disqus
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Poll

Do you think an increase in JUTC bus fares is justified at this time?
Yes
No


View Results »


ADVERTISEMENT

Today's Cartoon

Click image to view full size editorial cartoon
ADVERTISEMENT