Access to water has always been a challenge for students at the Mount Airy Primary and Infant School in Mocho, Clarendon.

The tank at the school is insufficient to meet the needs of the 121 students and 13 members of staff – not to mention community members.

But in six months’ time that will change when the school would have completed constructing one (1) 20,000-gallon Ferro-cement tank, upgrading its guttering system and installing a solar-powered water pump.

The Mount Airy Primary and Infant School was one of 51 community and civil society grantees who received funds from the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ) who administer the Special Climate Change Adaptation Fund (SCCAF) on behalf of the Adaptation Programme and Finance Mechanism (AP&FM).

“We are very happy to have received the grant. It will make us better prepared for the dry season. So we will no longer have to send home students during the dry times because we have no water,” said Principal at Mount Airy Primary and Infant School, Madelyn Edwards.

“Because we are fixing the gutters as well – we can now catch water. Before because we didn’t have proper gutters the rain would fall and the water would be wasted. With more water, we can take care of our school garden.”

Mocho Primary School garden

“We have recently started planting carrots, cucumbers and sweet peppers in the garden to use in our school canteen. It will boost the students nutrition and cut our grocery bill,” she explained.

Edwards was one of the grantees filling the meeting room at the New Kingston Business Centre on Tuesday, October 24, when representatives of the 51 community-based and nongovernmental organizations signed their grants with the Environmental Foundation of Jamaica (EFJ). The project funding, totaling J$228 million, was made available through the AP&FM of the Pilot Programme for Climate Resilience (PPCR) at the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation (MEGJC), in partnership with the Inter-American Development Bank.

“We can definitely say that the EFJ handles one of the largest grant portfolios in Jamaica,” declared Emma Lewis, Government of Jamaica Director, who spoke on behalf of EFJ Chairman Professor Dale Webber. Ms. Lewis pointed out that for the calendar year 2017, the EFJ had granted awards in the sum of J$447.56 million for 93 project proposals. This figure includes thirteen projects that received J$86.03 million from the EFJ’s Forest Conservation Fund in July. Eighty projects have been funded in 2017 under the Special Climate Change Adaptation Fund to the tune of JS361.53 million.

Successful applicants hailed from thirteen parishes, with over half from Manchester, Clarendon, and St. Andrew. Seventy percent of the grants were for climate resilient cropping systems, water management, and agro-processing, with several including renewable energy solutions.  According to the EFJ, it is still seeking to improve the geographical and thematic spread of projects, and in partnership with the Project Execution Unit (PEU) of the AP&FM will look carefully at other areas for climate resilience for future funding.

Lt. Col. Oral Khan, Chief Technical Director at the MEGJC, noted the devastation of recent hurricanes in the region, which underlined the importance of building climate resilience in communities. The Ministry, he said, is focused on building local capacity to address the impacts of climate change – including sea level rise, coastal erosion, and floods.

EFJ’s Chief Executive Officer Barrington Lewis and Indi McLymont Lafayette, Communications Specialist for the AP&FM-PPCR Jamaica both stressed the importance of knowledge sharing by grantees.

“It is very important that we share our lessons learned to increase our collective knowledge,” said Ms. McLymont Lafayette while urging grantees to be creative and proactive about sharing their stories locally and online.

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