Categorized | National News

Some Bahamians Living Without Clean Water

A local healthcare expert said while The Bahamas is among the top countries in the Caribbean where most of its people have access to safe, clean water, there are still many Bahamians who go without this basic necessity every day.

Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) Representative Dr. Gerry Eijkemans brought remarks at the opening ceremonies of Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association’s (CWWA) 21st conference and exhibition Monday night.

Dr. Eijkemans said a WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme Report show that while many countries have made significant strides in providing clean water for their residents, there are some countries, like The Bahamas, where a handful of its residents are still without.

“There are still important disparities within the region and within the countries,” she explained. “Aruba, Barbados, Monserrat, Turks and Caicos with reported 100 per cent coverage of improved water at national level.

“The Bahamas, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia with coverage above 95 per cent for urban settings, have lower coverage for the rural areas. And the figures for Haiti show us great inequalities as compared to other countries, with only 67 per cent access to improved water.”

But, Dr. Eijkemans said the situation for sanitation is not as good as for water adding that countries like St. Lucia, Jamaica, Guyana and Suriname reported access to improved sanitation below 85 per cent. Haiti reported 17 percent access to improved sanitation.

The PAHO and WHO representative said this report also highlights the need to encourage countries and territories in the Caribbean to report their data related to access, particularly for the rural areas so the extent and the nature of the coverage can be better understood.

“This represents an interesting challenge for the CWWA as only 14 of 27 countries and territories of the English and French Caribbean reported data for urban and rural settings to the Joint Monitoring Programme,” she added.

The CWWA’s conference which began on Monday and runs through to October 5 brought together hundreds of water and wastewater professionals and related entities to discuss ways to better conserve, manage and provide clean water through the Caribbean.

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Public Works and Urban Development Philip ‘Brave’ Davis opened the conference and noted that basic needs such as access to good quality water and, the collection, treatment and disposal of wastes is common to every nation, no matter its size.
“Those of us from Small Island Developing States (SIDS) know just how difficult this can be,” he said. “And, the difficulty is made even worse when there are islands with little rainfall and no appreciable ground-water resources.

“Providing potable water to all our citizens has always been a major challenge in The Bahamas, and as our population centres grow, we have learned just how difficult it can be to manage our wastes properly. Services have to be provided for all and these have, essentially, to be duplicated on every inhabited island.”

Dr. Eijkemans added that millions of people lack access to safe water, not because of scarcity alone.

“Millions lack access to sanitation, not because of lack of appropriate technology, but because they are excluded by poverty, inequality and weak governance,” she added. “Tackling these issues holds the key to resolving the global water and sanitation crisis, and to the true attainment of sustainable, human development.”

The conference is being held at the Atlantis Resort and Casino, Paradise Island.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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