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Addressing water challenges in the Caribbean

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  • Addressing water challenges in the Caribbean

About the entity

Global Water Partnership
The Global Water Partnership (GWP) is a global action network with over 3,000 Partner organisations in 183 countries. The network has 63 Country Water Partnerships and 13 Regional Water Partnerships.
Schneider Electric
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Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) is 1 of 13 Regional Water Partnerships of the Global Water Partnership (GWP). Each year, GWP (the global network) holds its Network Meeting; an opportunity to engage its over 3000 partner organisations in more than 180 countries across the globe.

As was done last year, the 2019 Network Meeting was held online in a “Follow The Sun” format. This format allows GWP to consult with its Partners in each of its 13 regions (which includes the Caribbean), over a 29-hour period. The unique online Meeting ran from June 25th – 26th, 2019. The Network Meeting therefore culminates in a summary and forward-looking global session at the end.

GWP-C held its 2-hour session within the 29-hour period on Tuesday, June 25th, 2019 from 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. (Eastern Caribbean Time). There was one (1) physical country site for the GWP-C Session in Grenada, where Partners based there were able to attend in-person and all other GWP-C Partners were able to connect to the Meeting online.

The GWP-C Session within the GWP 2019 Network Meeting was an important activity. This is because the GWP will soon launch its new Strategy for 2020 – 2025. The Meeting therefore provided a platform for GWP-C’s over 100 Partners in more 22 Caribbean countries to provide valuable inputs on how GWP-C and its Partners throughout the region can work together to help implement the new Strategy.

At the GWP-C Session, Partners were asked to provide inputs on two (2) key questions:

  1. What are you doing to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and mobilising the climate change resilience community to leverage the water agenda?
  2. In addressing the water challenges in your country as a GWP Partner, which other organisations and groups would you like GWP to learn from, mobilise, and engage with (and why)?

A visual sketch of discussions and inputs from GWP-C Partners at the 2019 GWP Network Meeting

These two (2) questions sparked significant and fruitful discussions amongst GWP-C Partners on a range of water-related challenges in the Caribbean. Moreover, it highlighted ways in which GWP-C and its Partners can work together to advance better water management in the Caribbean and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

From the Session, GWP-C was able to learn more about what its Partners are doing to achieve the SDGs and what they are doing to mobilise the climate change resilience community to leverage the water agenda. Here is a bulleted summary of some of the ways GWP-C Partners are doing this:

  • Actively seeking out partnerships with state agencies, educational institutions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) across the Caribbean and providing training based on need and relevance.
  • Advocacy, negotiating, implementing climate-smart agriculture practices focusing on water-use efficiency.
  • Promoting advocacy to water management via community awareness campaigns.
  • Conducting research and disseminating engagement in water resources management (especially drought and agricultural water stresses) to support SDGs on water and food security. In the Caribbean, the link between water and food security has not been given the priority attention it deserves.
  • Creating National Adaptation Plans in many countries. Additionally, developing Communication Plans for water authorities to help them communicate climate change and conservation needs.
  • Development of National Adaptation Plans with an emphasis on agriculture and water.
  • Proposals writing.
  • Sustainable farming through a combination of strategic planning, efficient soil amelioration, water harvesting, micro irrigation and fertigation and farm management.
  • Effective Utility Management (EUM) Certificate Programme that trains water and wastewater utility management in all EUM attributes such as Integrated Demand Side Management, Asset Management, Financial Sustainability and more.
  • Supporting water utilities through staff training and capacity building; water operator certification; actively involved in developing a Regional Strategic Action Plan (RSAP) for governance and building climate resilience in the water sector in the Caribbean.

Partners also gave inputs on other organisations GWP-C can learn from, mobile and engage in terms of addressing water challenges at a national and regional level in the Caribbean. Here is a synopsis of some these suggestions:

  • Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and universities
  • The construction, tourism and agricultural sectors
  • Policy makers at all levels
  • Farmers
  • International bodies that provide training (e.g. webinars) and tools on water and related areas.
  • People living in rural areas, government, members of parliament, ministries of natural resources, agriculture and water organisations.
  • Organisations involved in agro-processing
  • Planning Institutes
  • Donor agencies

A key part of the GWP-C Session within the GWP Network Meeting was a segment dedicated to Partners asking questions and providing key insights on what they believe is needed to advance better water management in the Caribbean. Here are some of the views of GWP-C Partners during this segment of the Meeting:

  • Governance is still the single most significant area requiring attention to ensure that all the gains made from the scientific, engineering and capacity building approaches are turned into real value for money.
  • GWP-C can explore the idea of a mutual insurance facility for water utilities which could contribute to boosting their climate resilient initiatives.
  • Lack of political will and the need for more emphasis on the implementation of policies. There seems to always be money for new studies, but implementation is poor.
  • Mobilisation of the youth and climate community is still a challenge for the region.
  • Water is still competing with Tourism, for serious investments to meet demand. The investments in the tourism sector far exceed the investment in the water sector. The future climate impacts are not being seriously taken into consideration in long-term planning.
  • There is a serious lack of long term and integrated (cross-sectoral) planning across the region.
  • A better understanding of governance is necessary to improve this balancing act between key sectors.
  • The importance of forests is undervalued (e.g. in Trinidad and Tobago) and there is need to manage freshwater at the source. Securing resources for sustainable forestry management is needed.
  • The reality is most private sectors would not on their own initiative, take steps towards improving water and sanitation systems. They are primarily profit driven, hence stricter legislation needs to be enforced as a driving factor. Without a forceful hand from regulatory agencies, it is hardly likely private sector will reduce that burden.
  • There is often overlap in projects in the Caribbean. There seems to be a reluctance in countries to collaborate, as they all want their own funds and projects. GWP-C and other organisation can work toward providing a platform for identifying projects and strategies that have been developed and could be shared and adapted.
  • There is need for more cohesion and support from government bodies to invest in water resources management to sustain the Caribbean and the world over. Many countries are on the count down for the end of their groundwater supply.
  • The trend of developing policies without proper context, and as such they cannot act as proper tools to encourage change. They vaguely tackle the water issues and tend to lack the scientific research for the root causes of the problem that is either country or community specific, so that the problem can be fully understood and policies developed to tackle the root causes of the problem instead of using an umbrella approach.
  • Rainwater Harvesting (RWH) being a governance issue. At present, no one has responsibility for RWH either in a regulatory sense, provision of support mechanisms and other governance related challenges.
  • For years we have been targeting the same government agency for moving water initiatives forward, neglecting for example, the Finance Ministry. As a result, water financing is often a pain staking process. The linkage to climate change is now our lead-off platform. We should not lose sight of showing the strong linkages between the environment, sustainability and the economy.
  • Education and integrated community level participation for Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).
  • Commonly we have policy-makers talking to policy-makers, scientists talking to scientists, but it is necessary to educate and reach the general people on the ground because they are needed for any program policy or system to work. We have to cross societal borders, as well as incorporate intergenerational participation. We see now more than ever young people being serious mobilisers of change, so it is important to tap into this resource and provide them with a platform and the tools necessary to be agents of change, but they cannot do it alone.

The valuable inputs from GWP-C’s Partners will be taken into account in the organisation implementing its 2020 – 2025 Regional Strategy and Action Plan. GWP-C is committed to its Partners in working together with them in advancing the SDGs, particularly SDG 6 – The Water Goal.

 

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