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Letter of the day: Frequent water lock-offs an embarassment

Published:Wednesday | July 29, 2015 | 12:00 AM


One of the truly remarkable things about man has been his ability to triumph over his physical environment, to bend nature almost at will in his relentless pursuit of personal or national glory and of improved standards of living for himself and his peers. And history is replete with instances of him doing just that dating as far back as prehistoric times. The Great Pyramids of Egypt, Great Wall of China, the Panama and Suez Canals, Hoover Dam, English Chunnel, the city of Las Vegas (a thriving metropolis carved out of the Mojave Desert), and the almost 50 year old moon landing, are just a few examples of what can be achieved when mans' extraordinary powers of intelligence and innovation are backed by national consensus and collective will.

Against this background, it is mind boggling that here in Jamaica, a land with two distinct rainy seasons, replete with rivers and lakes and surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, we continue to struggle to find a durable solution to the perennial problem of the drought conditions which periodically plague our nation. Our geography has not changed significantly since we became a sovereign state. Dry summers and severe drought conditions every several years have always been a feature of our existence. That today, our best response to this decades old phenomenon remains recurrent water lock offs betrays our ineptness. That during this time we have not significantly expanded our water storage capacity, invested in wide-scale rainwater harvesting techniques, developed better grey water management systems or explored prospects for desalination, is an embarrassment to all Jamaicans living and dead. It calls into question not only our collective intelligence but also our ability to mobilise that intelligence to the national good.

Some may argue that we simply lack the resources. However, this cannot be true since we have had a whopping 50 years within which to allocate the financial resources to fix this problem. And we seem to have no difficulty finding funds for far less important things such as the annual Emancipendence celebrations, visits by foreign heads of state, and overseas excursions by our politicians and their official delegations. Nor is it merely a matter of poor leadership since, as a democracy, we elect our leaders to pursue an agenda which we define. In any democracy, incompetent leadership necessarily reflects an undisciplined and irresponsible electorate, unwilling to wield its considerable electoral power in its own best interest.

While we all must support the current water conservation strategies, let us continue to hope that the sleeping giant which is Jamaica awakens from its intellectual stupor, begins mobilising its potentially formidable collective intelligence, and finally begins crafting a more intelligent future.

H. Emery