Minister of Public Infrastructure: Water Scarcity May be New Way of Life in the Caribbean

The Honourable Ian Patches Liburd.
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Minister of Public Infrastructure, Honourable Ian “Patches” Liburd, warned that climate change related challenges such as floods, sea level rise, drought and extreme weather conditions are the new norm for the Caribbean during Tuesday’s official media launch for the upcoming Conference of the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) to be held at the St. Kitts Marriott Resort in October. 

“For small island developing states like ours in the Caribbean, where climate variability, where climate change related pressures such as drought and extreme weather compound your graphic industrial and infrastructural issues, we may reconsider and come to grips with the fact that water scarcity may be a new way of life,” said Minister Liburd.

Using the examples of Barbados, Jamaica, Dominica and St. Kitts, he said that the Caribbean water sector is in need of change as the availability of water in the Caribbean is at a low.

“The availability of water in Barbados was some 306 cubic meters per capita per year and made it the fifteenth most water scarce nation in the world,” Liburd said, addingJamaica had problems with overburdened water systems with thousands of leaks being reported per year, and an issue with drought several years ago where the nation went without water for three days.

“Dominica [is] just recovering from the ravages of Hurricane Maria as its own water services is just being restored as we speak,” he continued. 

He said that the statistics from the St. Kitts and Nevis Meteorological Office stated that the Federation had 63.67 inches of rain last year.

“The year before had 27.29 inches of rain and as we speak up to May this year, only 6.4 inches of rain we have received. That tells the story of where we are in terms of scarcity,” he said. 

The minister emphasized the need for regional cooperation to find a sustainable solution to a global water crisis that will impact more than 1.8 billion people by 2025, and that the Conference of the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association will “provide the opportunity to merge all aspects of water management from waste water to drinking water to water and waste water research to utility and infrastructure challenges.” 

The CWWA is a regional non-governmental organization established by an Act of Parliament in Trinidad and Tobago in 1991.

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