Tue | May 23, 2017

Degraded Rio Minho Watershed to Get Urgent Attention

Published:Wednesday | September 30, 2015 | 9:00 AMJodi-Ann Gilpin

Described as severely degraded and in need of urgent remedial measures, the upper Rio Minho Watershed in Clarendon will top the priority list of a US$20-million pilot climate-change adaptation programme, funded mainly by the Inter-American Development Bank, which will be implemented by the Ministry of Land, Water, Environment and Climate Change.

Albert Daley, head, Climate Change Division in the ministry, told The Gleaner, following the launch of the programme, that Jamaica continues to show signs of serious risks to climate devastation and, as such, citizens and policymakers will have to act swiftly.

"This particular area was selected in consultation with the Ministry of Agriculture, the Rural Agricultural Development Authority and other stakeholders. What they have indicated is that the watershed is severely degraded, meaning that much of the cover is lost. Also, it's one of the watersheds that will have a water deficit, which means that the demand for water will be greater than the supply," Daley said.

"This is an area also where farming activities have been taking place on very steep slopes, which would pave the way for erosion of the top soil. It's largely fuelled by rain-fed agriculture so, when there is no rain, the farmers suffer. As such, efforts are being made to assist farmers to be less dependent on rainwater and to focus on methods that will minimise the wastage of water," he continued.

aiding other communities

Daley also noted that plans are in place to transfer ideas to other communities that are similarly degraded.

"It is, by far, one of the biggest climate-change initiatives, in terms of the amount of money and, so, going forward, we want to establish a sustainable climate funding and mechanisms to give money to community organisations, in addition to non-governmental organisations, because the change will not come from government alone. All have to play their part," he charged.

Meanwhile, Claire Bernard, deputy director, sustainable development, Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica, appealed to stakeholders to treat the project with the urgency and priority it deserved.

"I share the experience of working with a number of agencies, which seem to treat funded projects as an appendage whose needs are addressed when there is a slack in the normal work. The result of this is that projects are perennially underspending and behind schedule. The intended benefits are delayed or compromised, effectiveness is impaired, cost increases and there are implications for the national budget."

jodi-ann.gilpin@gleanerjm.com