On Monday May 4th, Miya Water, a world leader in water management efficiency, in partnership with the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA), organised a webinar to discuss how the Caribbean countries, and particularly the water industry, are weathering the challenges of COVID-19.
More than 140 people attended the online event, which was aimed at water supply and sanitation service operators.
Christopher Husbands, General manager of Grenada’s National Water and Sewerage Authority (NAWASA) and President of the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association (CAWASA) presented a Caribbean perspective on water and wastewater. He began outlining the current status in the CARICOM, where Heads of Government have agreed on a collective approach to IFIs in accessing assistance to meet financial fiscal challenges arising from the crisis, while Member governments have announced fiscal stimulus packages to help cushion the effects of COVID-19 on individuals, but their ability to assist is limited. In a region where tourism accounts for up to 90% of the GDP in some islands, all hotels are closed. Mr Husbands outlined different effects of the pandemic on water utilities. Even as the region faces the pandemic, it continues to deal with the usual challenges, the first one being the dry season, with reduced water availability due to long term drought, and the second one being the hurricane season, with above-normal hurricane activity predicted for the 2020 season. “From a water utility standpoint, this is something we have to try our best to plan for and reduce the impact of”. Looking ahead, he noted, this is not business as usual, with economic implications for the region with the pandemic. Finally, he emphasised the importance of training and technologies to improve operational efficiencies, and the need to redouble efforts on preparedness and response.