Jamaica along with Grenada, Haiti, and Saint Lucia have been earmarked for the installation of rainwater harvesting systems to strengthen their climate resilience through the management of water challenges. Technical experts in the water and health sectors from the region, convened for an inception meeting for a “Rainwater Harvesting, Mapping, and Manual Development and Training Consultancy”, led by the Investment Plan of the Caribbean Regional Track of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR). The planning meeting was hosted by the Environmental Health and Sustainable Development (EHSD) Department of the Caribbean Public Health Agency, (CARPHA) in Castries, St Lucia from December 10 -11, 2018.
Among the many priority areas for the Caribbean Regional Track of the PPCR, is rainwater harvesting (RWH), seen as critical, in light of forecasts pointing to extended drought periods, in an era of global warming exacerbated by more frequent El Nino events in the Caribbean. Additionally, the Caribbean Climate Outlook Forum (CariCOF) produced by the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology predicts an El Nino year for 2019.
The two-day forum, being held at CARPHA, Morne Fortune, will finalize plans to provide training for more than 80 rainwater harvesting professionals across the region and develop criteria for selection of three vulnerable communities to benefit from the installation of rainwater harvesting systems valued at approximately 100,000 USD.
According to the Head of Environmental Health and Sustainable Development at CARPHA, Lyndon Robertson, the public health risks associated with rainwater harvesting has been a deterrent to the uptake of the practice for years. Common health risks include poor water quality, water contamination which often leads to diarrhoea and improper storage of water which gives rise to vector-borne diseases such as chikungunya, zika and dengue, all of which impact human health. In keeping with the focus of the project CARPHA will provide technical support for water safety considerations that will be incorporated into a manual, to ensure elimination of health hazards associated with the collection and storage of rainwater.
Regional support for the initiative is supplemented by St. Georges University in Grenada in the form of rainwater harvesting monitoring and surveillance. Haiti is expected benefit from the capacity building component of the project as the rainwater harvesting manuals developed will guide replication of the installation techniques in the country.
The Investment Plan of the Caribbean Regional Track of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience is a five – year project implemented by the Mona Office for Research and Innovation(MORI) at the University of the West Indies with grant funding from the Climate Investment Fund (CIF) through the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The programme is building the region’s resilience to climate change through work in research, policy and applied climate change adaptation activities at the national and regional levels.