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Gov’t looking to ramp up rainwater harvesting among Jamaicans

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda, brings remarks at the commissioning ceremony for rainwater harvesting and upgraded irrigation systems, at the Forestry Department in Kingston, August 29. (Photo: JIS)

Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda, brings remarks at the commissioning ceremony for rainwater harvesting and upgraded irrigation systems, at the Forestry Department in Kingston, August 29. (Photo: JIS)

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As the Government moves to ramp up rainwater harvesting among Jamaicans, where and when appropriate, it will launch a rural water resilience programme next month.

The announcement was made today by Minister without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda, at the commissioning ceremony for rainwater harvesting and upgraded irrigation systems, at the Forestry Department in Kingston.

Samuda noted that the programme “will be launched against the backdrop of the prime minister being able to table also our rainwater harvesting guidelines, which will be gazetted and given to our planning agencies, municipalities and, indeed, NEPA (National Environment and Planning Agency), to ensure that where appropriate, it is installed in the most appropriate manner”.

He further noted that the Government understands that not every Jamaican will have the resources to address the need for rainwater harvesting.

As such, “The Government will, over the next two to three years, distribute and install water tanks in 50,000 households. That’s a major, major investment in water resilience at the household level,” he reminded.

At this level, according to Samuda, the initiative serves to ensure that the poorest Jamaicans can start to build their own water resilience and that they are able to take advantage of the rainfall within their area.

He said that the distribution of the water tanks will be done “very carefully” and that social assessments will take place to ensure that the tanks go to the families most in need. 

Noting that “Jamaica has to pull its water resilience out of the gray area”, the minister also announced that work will be done on a new trucking policy through the Integrated Water Management Council.
This is slated for completion within the next couple of months.

Samuda said that this is to ensure that “how trucking is done” is clearly structured as an addendum to the national water policy.

“It’s overdue. Trucking hasn’t been done efficiently, never has been. And I’ve seen the impact of inefficient trucking even during my tenure, even though we’ve worked to correct it. But the policy construct is not there, and then where there are not clear directions, there cannot be clear management decisions,” he said. 

“So, our duty is to get the water policy updated to include the issue of trucking very specifically and then we have to educate the public on the decisions we’ve taken,” the minister added.

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