The desperation of Ms Jennifer Housen and the drought of ideas

Thursday, July 19, 2018

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Ms Jennifer Housen, who is proposing to represent the People's National Party (PNP) in the St Andrew West Rural constituency, seems a desperate woman based on our report in yesterday's edition.

Ms Housen is reportedly collecting money from residents in Mount Zion, Red Hills, to be used to connect them to the water main of another resident, apparently without the permission of the state-run National Water Commission (NWC).

The candidate conceded by Twitter that her proposed action is out of the box, but that, “We seek to have water to this community (that is) desperately in need.”

Of course, the NWC has said it has made no arrangements with Ms Housen to facilitate such a project, and further that it does not undertake improvement works in this manner. Interestingly, the NWC does not say whether this action is illegal, or what it would do to provide water to the community.

By coincidence, there were three other related news stories in the same edition, all having to do with the desperate situation facing Jamaica where water, or the lack of it, is concerned.

In one case, NWC spokesman, Mr Charles Buchanan is quoted as expressing concern about the rate of decrease in the water level at the Hermitage Dam, but stopping short of saying the situation had reached the point of alarm.

“It's certainly not the first time that the Hermitage Dam has fallen to these levels…but it is a bit concerning, the rate of decline that we are experiencing and when that is combined with the negative projections that the meteorologists are giving, that we might not be receiving significant rainfall over the course of the rest of the summer or the next few months,” said Mr Buchanan.

That concern was also shared by Mr Daryl Vaz, who told his Portland Western constituents through the Parliament, that drought conditions could worsen based on Met Office projections for rainfall over the next few months.

The Government last week said it would be allocating an initial $30 million to the relevant municipal corporations to assist with trucking water in the parishes of Portland, St Catherine, St Elizabeth, Clarendon, and sections of St Mary, which have been experiencing unusually dry conditions.

As usual, when the drought is on, there are the familiar calls for action to store rainwater, or “rainwater harvesting” as they like to call it. “By collecting precipitation that naturally falls on rooftops and sidewalks, water that would normally wash away to sea becomes a resource for cooking, laundry, irrigation, and water-intensive manufacturing,” according to non-profit academic journalism outlet The Conversation.

For a country which experiences drought every other year, the lack of ideas is stunning. Mr Vaz says the Government is considering forming a 'national drought committee' to “focus on strategies that may need to be employed should the island experience a more widespread drought situation”.

The question is: What are we waiting for?

Mr Vaz, the NWC and The Conversation should knock heads together with Ms Housen and come up with a solution. She at least is thinking outside the box.

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