Letters to the Editor

Rural water supply community project being blocked

Tuesday, October 03, 2017

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Dear Editor,

I note with interest the letter to the editor published in the Jamaica Observer on September 27, 2017, 'Solution needed for Rural Water', over the name Leroy Brown.

The writer drew attention to what is now named the Rural Water Supply Limited. I would like to inform your readers and all water users in rural Jamaica that the Government of Jamaica and Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) launched a programme titled Community Participation in Rural Water in 2001.

Some US$10 million was provided by the IDB for the programme. A total of 23 communities were identified with water sources which were reliable to supply our needs. The communities were called upon to find 10 per cent of each project cost. The main criterion to participate in the programme is to fall four on the poverty map, as defined by the Planning Institute of Jamaica.

The Catterwood, White Horses, Botany Bay, and Pamphret water supply was chosen as the pilot project for the programme. The Catterwood water project was the first to be completed, but was handed over to National Water Commission (NWC), which was surprising, because it was made quite clear that no Government equity should participate in or benefit from the programme. The White Horses, Botany Bay, Pamphet water supply construction started the pipe-laying exercise on September 5, 2005. Home connections started November 2007 and all costs to the Department of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies, Office of Utilities Regulation were dealt with. There was a lease for 39 years the No 3 well at Goodyear compound to be licensed from the Water Resources Authority, which was duly paid by White Horses, Botany Bay and Pamphret Development Benevolent Society. We also met our staff payments.

The project consisted of one deep well pump, one chlorinating system, one 1.3-million litre storage tank, and approximately four miles of pipeline. Funding was provided through a grant from Community Participation in Rural Water Programme and community contributions. This can be verified by looking at our audited report done by the Department of Co-operatives and Friendly Societies operations.

The benevolent society employed five staff members, signed contracts and connected 650 customers. Supply was done from May 2008 to June 2009 non-stop to the town of Morant Bay and surrounding areas.

Dr Horace Chang refuses to validate the licence issued to the benevolent society, claiming a change of the water policy and indicated that they would not grant any further licences because the NWC is capable of handling water supply across the island.

The memorandum of understanding between the Government of Jamaica and the White Horses, Botany Bay and Pamphret Benevolent Society was signed by E G Hunter, C L James JP, and witnessed by Anthony Hylton, MP, and Donald Buchanan, then minister of water and housing.

For a minister with responsibility for water to ignore a memorandum of understanding signed after all these years leaves someone like letter writer Leroy Brown and the thousands without consistent water supply in the lurch.

It is clear that the solution to our water problem is community participation. Who will help?

C L James, JP





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