Monday 23 November, 2020

Gov't allocates $308 million to alleviate drought conditions

A special allocation of $308 million has been made by the Government to implement measures to alleviate prevailing drought conditions across the island.

Minister without portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Daryl Vaz, in a statement in the House of Representatives on Tuesday, said that the provision will ensure adequate access to water supply by vulnerable communities in order to assist in the fight against the coronavirus (COVID-19).

He informed that of the sum allocated, $70 million will go to Rural Water Supply Limited (RWSL) to facilitate the installation of approximately 130 wayside tanks and construction of some 39 loading bays islandwide.

He said that contact has already been made with the various municipal corporations, which have advised of suitable locations for the installation of the wayside tanks and loading bays in order to reach residents in the most vulnerable, water-deficient areas.

“The benefits to be derived from the installation of wayside tanks at strategic locations include easy access to potable water by residents in areas devoid of adequate water supply [and] ease of delivery of water by trucking when compared with house-to-house delivery,” he pointed out.

Vaz said the loading bays will enhance the trucking of water and reduce the cost of delivery, thereby making it more efficient and cost-effective.     

The special allocation also includes $100 million to the National Water Commission (NWC) to truck water and $63 million to be shared equally among the 63 Members of Parliament to provide black tanks and for trucking of water.

In addition, the Ministry of Local Government and Community Development will be allocated $75 million to provide more water shops and truck water.

“The measures outlined will help to mitigate the current and projected drought period, and the Government stands ready to implement additional programmes and initiatives to ensure that all Jamaicans have access to this very important commodity,” Vaz said.

He noted that these measures are necessary, given the below-average rainfall and the dry conditions that the country has been experiencing.

“Springs that usually provide a source of water are now dry. Both the NWC sources and the municipal corporation sources that are used for major and minor water supplies are dry or producing very minimal water… . This is the reality of climate change in relation to drought,” Vaz said.

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