Tue | Jul 14, 2020

Group pushes rainwater harvesting project

Published:Sunday | May 22, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Householders place a zinc sheet on the roof to harvest rain-water for domestic use in Genus, St Elizabeth.
With no piped water, residents of Genus, south St Elizabeth have to depend on rain-water for domestic and agricultural purposes. Here, a woman harvests water from a tank into which rainwater is channeled from the roofs of two nearby buildings. - Ian Allen/Photographer

Christopher Serju, Sunday Gleaner Writer

Rainwater harvesting, a strategy used by Jamaicans over many decades, especially in rural Jamaica, to ensure adequate supply of water for domestic and agricultural purposes, is being promoted on a wider scale by the Caribbean Coastal Area Management (C-CAM) Foundation, as it seeks to educate Jamaicans about adaptable and alternative livelihoods in the face of climate change.

At a recent climate change expo funded by the United States Development Programme C-CAM hosted a number of agencies which shared information about the likely opportunities that could emerge from the long-term impact of climate change.

Changing opportunities

"The idea really is to provide information and opportunity for discourse among community members who live in the Portland Bight area and especially the younger ones so that they can from now think, 'How is climate change going to change my future, and what do I need to do now to be able to deal with the changing livelihood and employment opportunities that might come in the future?' A number of things might change. Whether people will need to look at alternative energy solutions, different ways at how we get our water sources, pretty much everything that we do is going to change, everything that we have is going to change," Ingrid Parchment, executive director of C-CAM, told The Sunday Gleaner.

Turning to the rainwater harvesting which is slated to get underway by early next month, coinciding with the official start of the hurricane season, she said the pilot project would take place in three Clarendon communities: Old Harbour Bay, Mitchell Town and Salt River.

"What we are trying to do is communal solutions. So we want to look at churches, schools, community centres and then we would give them the gutters and the tanks, as well as the mesh and have some sort of training session to explain how they maintain the gutters. How they can use the water because some people collect the rainwater but don't drink it.

"So we want to talk about what is the use of that water and how they should continue to ensure that the gutters are kept clean, that the mesh is cleared, that the downspout is there and to continue to repair the structures so that they can maintain it.

"From a practical standpoint some of these communities have no water, they are using river water or buying water, so the idea is that they will buy less water, and this will provide a source of water for them, especially during the drought period when there is even less water available generally but for them specifically at that time."

While communal beneficiaries are the main targets of the project, vulnerable individuals such as the elderly, disabled and mothers with young children could be accommodated.

Parchment is heartened by the success of a similar project undertaken by Oxfam in Salt River after Hurricane Dean devastated the area.

"Perhaps 85 per cent of the persons continued to use it the way it was intended, but we will have those community persons on the ground who would be able to keep us updated on what is happening and we also have staff, we have field officers, conservation officers and public education officers. So they will be able to go around and keep us up to date on what's happening."