In Search Of A Solution For Water Scarcity In The Caribbean
February 12, 2019
Written by: Daphne Ewing-Chow
“Access to clean drinking water is the most threatened right of Caribbean people,” says Zachary Harding, CEO of Hyperion Equity, the private equity firm that manages the Caribbean Climate Fund. The Caribbean Climate Fund was established by Harding’s Hyperion Equity after completing his contract as CEO of the Caribbean Climate Smart Accelerator, which is now run by their recently appointed CEO, Racquel Moses from Trinidad.
Harding, in his former post with the Accelerator, facilitated the implementation of a water harvesting technology that has effectively taken a Jamaican children’s hospital off the water grid. This is a massive achievement in the local context, where one in four people (usually among the poorest 20%) do not have domestic access to piped water, and droughts and infrastructural issues result in periodic “lock-offs” for the remainder of the population.
For many small island developing states of the Caribbean, where climate change-related pressures, such as drought and extreme weather, compound geographic, industrial and infrastructural issues—water scarcity is a way of life.
To put the situation in context, Barbados, given its lack of fresh water resources, has a water availability of just 306 cubic meters per capita per year, which makes it the 15th most water‐scarce nation in the world. Jamaica has suffered from an aging and overburdened water system with tens of thousands of reported leaks per year, and in Dominica, water service was not restored to many areas until mid-2018— more than half a year after Hurricane Maria devastated the island. These are individual examples but the issues pervade the region.
In 2017, the Caribbean Drought and Precipitation Monitoring Network (CDPN) and personnel at the St. Lucia-based Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (now replaced by the Caribbean Public Health Agency or CARPHA) warned that in the years to come, the Eastern Caribbean could see declines in average annual rainfall between 30-50%. Concurrently, the region is experiencing the rapid depletion of fresh water aquifers, an increase in saline and solid water and the pollution of groundwater resources. These land and water-based issues do not even begin to take into account serious socio-economic and political deterrents to clean water availability.
Photo not originally published with article.