PIOJ makes up lost time on Adaptation Fund programme
Petre Williams-Raynor, Contributing Editor
WHILE MOVING to settle concerns over the use of breakwaters to arrest Negril's beach erosion, the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) is also to make up lost time on implementation for the other components of the island's Adaptation Fund programme.
The breakwaters, with a $5.4-million tab, form component one of the 'Enhancing the Resilience of the Agriculture Sector and Coastal Areas to Protect Livelihoods and Improve Food Security' programme, for which the PIOJ is the national implementing entity (NIE).
Component two addresses climate resilience of the agricultural sector by improving water and land management in select communities. Component three looks to build awareness, improve local-level capacity and transfer sustainable natural resource management practices to targeted areas.
"They [components two and three] are progressing apace [though] I think generally the whole programme is behind schedule," said Programme Manager Shelia McDonald-Miller. "Our project readiness was not where it should have been at the start so we took some time hitting the ground."
She said they are now fast-tracking some activities and identifying "quick wins" as part of efforts to meet the 2015 end date.
"Rather than trying to build a big quilted sheet, you do a pillow case," she told The Gleaner. "So you will find that for the agriculture component, some of the rainwater harvesting systems are up and running in five or so communities."
They have, too, done sensitisation of technical staff, including Rural Agricultural Development Authority field officers, "so that they know what to go to the communities and say".
"We have also visited, along with some partners, some of the sites where work will be taking place and have demonstration plots up and running, in Clarendon in particular," the NIE representative said.
"The demonstration plots form a very important part of the climate-smart and agriculture strategy [which] is where we are going to teach alternative farm and land management techniques," she added.
Similar strides are being made under component three.
"A consultant is on board doing storm-surge modelling [for the climate risk atlas] and the ODPEM (Office of the Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management) is leading that," McDonald-Miller said.
"When that consultant is finished, NEPA (the National Environment and Planning Agency) will take some of those pullouts and help us with some guidelines and standards in the Negril area in particular, but it is to be replicable in other coastal areas in Jamaica," she said further.
There is, the programme manager noted, also a training manager in place at ODPEM and another available to do training in disaster risk reduction in communities.
"That [training] should start at the end of May to be the beginning of June in earnest," she said.
In addition, according to McDonald-Miller, together with the executing entities, the PIOJ has taken a collaborative approach to clearing bottlenecks.
COLLABORATIVE PROBLEM SOLVING
"At the NIE, we do the coordinating of the whole programme, and one of things we do on a regular basis is team meetings for all the components where we do collaborative problem solving. Because of that, somebody working on component one can help to solve a problem in component three," she said.
"It has helped us to see where we need to make up ground for the time that is already lost ... . So buy-in is there, but we have to now put our shoulders to the wheel and make it happen," McDonald-Miller added.
Meanwhile, the PIOJ is coordinating a meeting between Negril tourism interests and other government stakeholders on the controversial breakwaters to which locals are opposed. Their opposition is grounded in the potential loss of snorkelling ground, feared damage to the ecosystem and aesthetics.