Caribbean countries amongst the most water-stressed globally
A resident without running water at home fills a container at a water fill station, a day ahead of World Water Day, in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Tuesday, March 21, 2023.

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC) — The United Nations (UN) World Water Development Report 2023 was launched here on Wednesday amid concerns that Caribbean countries are amongst the most water-stressed globally.

Addressing a press briefing on behalf of the head of the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) Sub-regional Headquarters for the Caribbean, Artie Dubrie said she was certain that the report would be a leading document during the UN 2023 Water Conference that got underway in New York on Wednesday.

Dubrie, who is coordinator for the Sustainable Development and Disaster Unit at ECLAC, said the Caribbean region is heavily dependent on rainfall as its major source of freshwater, obtained from direct rain and through surface and groundwater systems.

"Freshwater is often classified as a scarce, finite natural resource. Sustainable management of water resources — including access to safe, fresh water and sanitation — are indispensable for human health and well-being," she said, adding that it is a key driver of economic and social development and is also critical in maintaining the integrity of the natural environment and ecosystems.

She said to meet this finite natural resource's current and future demands requires water resources management structures to be integrated and systematised across the social, economic, environmental, and developmental realms of sustainable development.

The ECLAC official acknowledged that the freshwater resource supplies vary across the subregion and that this variation is due to such factors as the climate, climate change impacts, rainfall pattern and intensity, geology, safe availability, and accessibility through established infrastructure and institutional systems.

"With respect to freshwater resources, the Caribbean countries are amongst the most water-stressed globally. The World Resources Institute has identified seven Caribbean countries as having 'extremely high' levels of water stress," she said.

These countries are Dominica, Jamaica, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, and St Kitts-Nevis, with the latter three also being designated as water-scarce.

Dubrie said for the Caribbean multi-island states, freshwater availability can also vary across the archipelago, noting for example that in the case of The Bahamas there is a notable decrease in groundwater availability from the northern to the southern islands.

She said these subjects addressed in the UN World Water Development Report are crucial in the work of the entire region, but especially for the Caribbean countries.

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