NORRISTOWN, Pennsylvania — Ten schools and four community centers located within the district of Saint Catherine in Jamaica will receive 1,000 gallon plastic water tanks to both collect and store rainwater as part of a rainwater harvesting project. Launched on July 15 with funding provided by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), this project will be implemented by the Saint Catherine Development Agency (SACDA) to assist those institutions most affected by drought in the area.
With the program currently in progress, the institutions in need are scheduled to receive the water tanks by the end of this coming December. According to Executive Director for the SACDA Nellie Richards, “This project will definitely impact lives and greatly improve the water supply at the various schools and community centers.”
Along with improving the water supply, this project also expands on the current disaster mitigation work being completed in some of these areas, where entire communities are learning how to protect both crops and livestock as well as improve the community’s ability to respond to an emergency.
Benefiting from this project are Berwick, Giblatore, Guanoba Vale, Mount Herman and Springvale primary schools; Content, Giblatore, Hill Top, Princess Field, Springvale and Top Mountain basic schools; and the Content, Giblatore, Princess Field and Springvale community centers.
According to the Principal of the Berwick Primary School Sonia Byrd, “Children will come to school, because there is water; teaching and learning will take place, and it will be good for the students and the teachers.”
Not only will this project provide teachers and students with clean water, but it will also provide children with the opportunity to receive a better education. A lack of clean water and sanitation facilities keeps millions of children from attending school, especially in developing countries.
A report released in 2010 by the U.N.’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) revealed that children across the world miss almost 300 million school days due to diarrhea. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), diarrhea is the cause of approximately 760,000 deaths of children under the age of five every year, making it the second leading cause of the high child mortality rate.
Water-related diseases like diarrhea keep children across the world from receiving an education, which is why gaining access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene through this rainwater harvesting project is crucial for all developing countries.
The $3 million of funding provided by USAID coincided with this agency’s Community-Based Micro-Enterprise Development project.
Over the course of 42 months, USAID has outlined a list of agricultural-based project activities to integrate into 30 rural communities, such as protected farming structures, agro-processing, beekeeping, renewable energy technologies, rainwater harvesting and even community tourism activities, to improve the standards of living and encourage economic diversification within these communities.
Since the launch of this project, about 78 percent of these project activities have already been completed.
In coordination with Jamaica’s government, USAID also implemented the second phase of its Community Empowerment and Transformation Project (COMET II) earlier this year on May 2. Costing $13 million, this five-year project will strengthen citizen security in 25 communities, including Saint Catherine.
Through all of these projects, USAID is working to improve the education and standards of living for thousands in Jamaica and assist the SACDA in developmental progress.
– Meghan Orner