The general assembly of the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) began here on Friday with a warning that fresh water is becoming in short supply.
â€œDrought and floods are putting all kinds of pressure on the human systems within the Caribbean, from public health to crop use and this means extending clean water to the poorest people who still lack it, will become an even bigger challenge in the future,â€ warned GWP-C, Chairman Trevor Thompson.
Thompson told the meeting being attended by delegates from the English, Dutch, French and Spanish Caribbean that the region must take this opportunity to recommit itself to the â€œgood managementâ€ of the Caribbean water resources.
He said that the present water challenges are likely to get worst, due to climate change and pollution of fresh water resources.
â€œWater is critical for our survival and we must not for a moment allow ourselves to slip into a sense of false water security. We have to keep ensuring that all that we are doing results in its protection and preservation for future generations.â€
Thompson said that many people take water for granted and the issue of conservation is not keeping pace with the demands, resulting in â€œincreasing pressureâ€ on service provider.
â€œThe fulfillment of basic human needs, our environment, socio economic development and poverty reduction are all heavily dependent on water. Based on data and analysis that we have seen, we fully expect that wet areas will get wetter and dry areas will get dryer and fresh water is becoming in short supply,â€ Thompson said.
The GWP-C Chairman said that although agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of world water use, much of it is wasted warning â€œthe issue of Caribbean food production and security in the face of climate variability and increasing energy cost is dauntingâ€.
The United Nations (UN) has designated 2013 as the International year of Water Cooperation and according to Mr. Thompson the General Assembly has recognized that â€œcooperation is essential to strike a balance between the different needs and priorities that share this precious resource so that it is distributed equitably and we must also use water as an instrument of peaceâ€.
In his address to the conference, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Lands, Housing Settlements and Water Resource Management, Davis Letang said â€œglobal warming and other natural phenomenon were negatively impacting on both the quality and quantity of water resources in our rivers, lakes and other water catchment areas.â€
Letang, deputising for the minister Reginald Austrie, said that the demand for potable water continues to rise while the cost for supplying water to homes and businesses continues to escalate.
He said that over the past two years, government had invested in excess of EC$50 million (one EC dollar = US$0.37 cents) in the water sector as it work towards achieving a mandate to provide water to the entire population by 2015.
â€œWe recognize that the GWP-C is critical to our new thrust in water education which we must now undertake across the region,â€ said Letang.
The GWP-C is a regional organization launched in 2004, which aims to help Caribbean countries in the sustainable management of their water resources. Dominica through DOWASCO has been a member of GWP-C since 2005.