The Drought Management Committee (DMC) has announced a multi-stakeholder approach to mitigate the effects of the meteorological drought currently impacting the island.
Immediate measures were summarised by the National Water Commission (NWC) during today’s (March 9) weekly meeting of the committee, which was held virtually and chaired by Senator Matthew Samuda, minister without portfolio in the ministry of economic growth and job creation, who has responsibility for the water portfolio.
The measures include, but are not limited to:
1. Key stakeholder partnership in the water sector, with the ministry as the lead, to develop a comprehensive and cohesive programme focusing on the importance of water conservation to effectively manage the impacts of the drought.
2. The Meteorological Service of Jamaica will guide the NWC in the trucking of the water to the most affected areas. At present, the targeted areas include Eastern St Thomas, sections of Portland, and St Mary, but trucking will also occur in other parishes severely affected by drought.
3. The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) will receive the schedule for the trucking of water, to ensure the delivery of water in a safe environment.
4. In addition, 1,000 400-gallon black tanks will be provided for the worst affected areas, particularly those areas where storage is inadequate.
5. The NWC will also continue to regulate the water supply to customers on a 12-hour supply modality.
6. Another measure entails the transfer of water from St Catherine to assist with the supply in Kingston and St Andrew. The assurance was given that this measure would be undertaken without creating any undue disadvantage for the residents of St Catherine.
The three-month period, February to April 2023, forecast from the Meteorological Service of Jamaica, indicates that rainfall is expected to be below-normal to near-normal across the island for the remainder of the dry season and ahead of the transition to the early wet season.
The Drought Management Committee, a sub-committee of the Integrated Water Resources Management Council, now convenes weekly following a directive from Prime Minister Andrew Holness, given the intensification of the drought.
The prime minister has also announced the allocation of an additional $100 million for the trucking of water into mostly rural areas that are in dire need.