Tue | Sep 26, 2017

CARICOM ministers to discuss financing, investment in water sector

Published:Monday | October 10, 2016 | 10:40 AM

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad (CMC):
Regional government ministers with responsibility for water meet in Trinidad later this month to discuss the social, economic and environmental impact of water scarcity and overall management of water in the Caribbean.

The ministers will be attending the two day 25th Annual Conference and Exhibition of the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) from October and according to the organisers “will present an opportunity for representatives at the 12th High Level Forum (HLF) of Caribbean Ministers to address policy and strategic matters with donor, technical assistance agencies and the development banks”.

“The conference offers an excellent opportunity to frame these challenges in a manner that would stimulate tangible action to urgently address them.

“By bringing such a wide variety of stakeholders together in the same place at the same time we are in fact convening a unique platform for discussion, strategising and most importantly finding solutions to the problems faced by the water sector in the region,” said CWWA executive director, Patricia Aquing.

The HLF, which is being held this year under the theme “Climate Proofing the Water Sector: Financing and Investment,” has attracted agencies such as the Caribbean Development Bank (IDB), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).

The organisers said that the meeting is of particular significance given extreme weather events experienced in the region and an assessment that the Caribbean as a whole can be described as being “water stressed”.

“Recent drought conditions in many countries have had a severe impact on several economic sectors such as agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, and the domestic situation.

“Water resources management in the Caribbean has always posed many challenges such as poor distribution, ageing infrastructure, high leakage rate and the inability of water utility companies to be financially sustainable, among many others. Climate change and climate variability have added multiple layers of further challenges with which Caribbean countries must grapple,” the organisers said in a statement.

They said it has been found that providing adequate supplies of fresh water presents a substantial challenge to national governments so much so that in many Caribbean countries the annual per capita fresh water availability falls far below the 1000 cubic metres commonly used to measure scarcity.

The two-day conference is expected to attract more than 400 persons and the organisers said a major element of the event is the largest trade show and exhibition in the Caribbean which showcase cutting edge technology and new products and services in water and waste management.