Water Woes Lessened, Through J-CCCP SupportMar 9, 2018
In 2015 - and for several years prior - drought was on the lips of every Jamaican as water shortages grew progressively worse. When the Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership (J-CCCP) Project Team visited Jamaica a few weeks ago, Jamaicans were concerned about the heavy rainfall they were experiencing in a period which is usually dry. Such is the nature of climate change – unpredictable weather patterns.
The impact of this fluctuation in rainfall is staggering. The agricultural sector is often the hardest hit and bushfires result with impact felt on forestry. The domestic water supply is also affected as cases of water borne illnesses increase. Other impacts are seen.
Janet Taylor, Agricultural Science teacher at the Guys Hill High School in St. Catherine, Jamaica described recent heavy rainfall as “unusual” while at the same time indicating that the school and the wider community experience both “severe drought and flooding.” She told the J-CCCP team - who was visiting to monitor project sites - that the school only receives water from the main water supply twice per week and generally, there’s no water in bathrooms and other key locations on the school compound.
It is difficult, then, for the agricultural science programme to draw water for the farm from the main water system which is already taxed. In this context, J-CCCP is supporting the school with the provision of a rain-fed one thousand gallon water storage tank, guttering and an irrigation system. Previously, plastic bottles were used as a type of irrigation where teachers poked holes at the top of the bottles and then buried them into the ground. This, Ms. Taylor said, wasn’t always effective as water to fill bottles wasn’t often accessible, resulting in loses of 50-100% of seedlings purchased.
Ms. Taylor further shared that the new system provides the school with the opportunity to plant vegetables throughout the year, where they have previously only planted during the first academic term. The irrigation system also allows them to plant fifty percent more than they have in the past, an activity in which 245 students are involved. It helps the school to be self-sufficient and provides an opportunity for practical student learning, she said. Fourth Form student and 4H Club member Delano Gordon assisted with the installation of the school’s irrigation system and will use the activity as a part of his School Based Assessment (SBA). Delano intends to be farmer when he graduates.
This project and 60+ others like it, are supported through funding from the Government of the Japan under the Japan-Caribbean Climate Change Partnership, implemented by the UN Development Programme in conjunction with 4H Clubs of Jamaica.
In another project, J-CCCP is working with the Clarendon Parish Council to refurbish existing water storage tanks which have been in disrepair for many years. Victoria Primary School sits just across from a road aptly called Tank Lane, where a larger water cistern is located. Students and community members are both affected by frequent water shortages.
Yvonne Dinnall, School Board Member and Past PTA President told the team, “most of the time [teachers] have to send home the children four times per week” as there’s no water, “so this project is a very big help to the community and the school.” When there’s no water, Ms. Dinnall said, persons have to travel four miles for access or, go to the Peace River.
On school grounds, the project will repair a broken water tank, as well as provide a drip irrigation system for the school garden. Principal, Violet Thomas-Thompson, indicated that more than 200 students will reap benefits of the project’s support via the school’s breakfast programme which will be supplied by the school’s vegetable garden. Across the street, more than two thousand community members will benefit from repairs to a large concrete water tank, which locals call a barbecue.