Gov’t allocates $150m amid persistent drought affecting Jamaica Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Prime Minister Andrew Holness has announced the allocation of $150 million by the Ministry of Finance to facilitate the trucking of water and procurement and distribution of water tanks to parts of the country that are experiencing water challenges due to ongoing drought conditions.

He made the announcement on Tuesday during a ministerial statement in the House of Representatives.

The prime minister, in a lengthy statement, noted that Jamaica was in the throes of a meteorological, hydrological and agricultural drought, with the western parishes of Hanover and Westmoreland hardest hit.

He highlighted that while the major storage facilities in the Corporate Area, the Mona Reservoir and the Hermitage Dam, were at 77 per cent and 79.1 per cent of their respective capacities, some systems in the western end of the island were as low as 20 per cent.

He said an initial amount of $1.5 million will be allocated to each of 50 constituencies with additional amounts going to the parishes of Hanover, Westmoreland, Clarendon, and St Elizabeth.

The various constituencies in these parishes will be allocated $2.5 million each. Separately, the municipal corporations in Clarendon, St Elizabeth and Westmoreland will each receive $5 million for drought mitigation efforts, while the Hanover Municipal Corporation will be allocated $7.5 million.

The prime minister noted that a meteorological drought happens when dry weather patterns dominate an area; hydrological droughts occur when low water supply becomes evident, especially in streams, reservoirs, and groundwater levels, usually after many months of meteorological drought; and agricultural droughts happen when crops become affected.

He said the funding being made available will allow the government, through the National Water Commission (NWC), members of parliament, and the parish councils, to respond to needs for critical infrastructure, and the worst-affected communities, over the next four weeks.

“I wish to assure citizens of Westmoreland and Hanover, particularly Negril and environs, that we will continue beyond this allocation if as projected, dry conditions persist into the summer,” said Holness.

He also pointed to the impact of the drought on the residents of Brown’s Town, in St Ann North Western, which, he said, has been compounded by system failure with the virtual collapse of the existing well system at Minard.

He reminded that he instructed the NWC in March to allocate $30 million to facilitate emergency response in the areas of Hanover, Westmoreland and Brown’s Town, St Ann.

The prime minister said the parishes of St Elizabeth and Clarendon have also received additional support, as they are the next most affected.

He emphasised that these measures should not be contemplated as the sole response related to potable water provision and it should be noted that the Ministry of Local Government & Community Development continues its trucking interventions in communities outside of the utility footprint from an allocation of $100 million.