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posted 26 Mar 2010, 15:36 by Gerry Kangalee
The NFFA membership understands, well, the importance of water to its livelihood, food security, and, life, for all citizens. The impact of climate change and inefficient or lack of proper water policies have serious consequences for all peoples, globally. Recently, the Prime Minister of St. Kitts and Nevis, Denzil Douglas, revealed that water security was discussed by the Heads of Government. “Water is needed for industry… agriculture… basic health and survival… for everything.”

It is a pity Prime Minister Manning missed that opportunity for enlightenment. PM Douglas said it is anticipated that global warming will issue in periods of longer droughts, followed by periods of excessive and unrelenting rains. Not only do we have an obligation to get global warming under control, then… but we must, in anticipation of the challenges that lie ahead globally, begin to see water with fresh, informed, and visionary eyes. It is a resource with which we are abundantly blessed – and we must marshall and manage it very carefully,” said Douglas. The NFFA fully endorses these proposals.

For years, the NFFA has been pleading with the PNM Government to create a more enabling environment for farmers by investing in infrastructure and irrigation facilities. The recent directives from WASA regarding farmers’ use of river water showed clearly that there is limited understanding of the interconnectivity between food security and a healthy life, and access to water. NFFA members belong to communities and we are concerned about access to water for all citizens, particularly women, who have been protesting about the lack of access to water, for years. The Government and WASA have failed us, spectacularly.

With water being highlighted across the globe this week, the NFFA takes this opportunity to remind the Prime Minister to see water for its critical importance to life. We urge him to think small in project terms – small community dams, wells, protection of water catchment areas with no quarrying allowed in those fragile ecosystems, are among numerous examples. We urge policy makers to encourage, through incentives, the capture of rain and flood waters.

All new government and private housing developments should ensure the harvesting of rainwater and its use for non-consumption activities – watering lawns, home gardens, washing cars etc. The use of ultraviolet light for purification at community water sources should be considered as one group is already demonstrating its feasibility. There are small scale, adaptable technologies aimed at alleviating water shortages, in practice, globally. Do not continue to allow citizens to suffer while you fiddle with our funds for long term, high cost mega-projects.

The NFFA is also very concerned about the proposals to establish eight desalination plants at a cost of over $1Billion. Given our adequate rainfall volume as determined by official sources, we urge the Government to conduct proper, in-depth feasibility, cost-benefit analyses and consideration of alternative measures for water harvesting and conservation before pushing these proposals through. We have yet to hear about the plans for the treatment/capture of the waste products such as greenhouse gases, and, mitigation measures to reduce damage to the immediate ecosystems by brine waste water. Unless well managed, there can be major damage to the environment incurring high recovery costs to the public.

We remind the Government and WASA that we are aware of the push by multinationals (MNCs) such as Coke, Pepsi, Nestle, Vivendi, Suez, among others, with total support from the World Bank and aid agencies, to blackmail countries into adopting a policy of privatizing water.

NFFA will not stand by idly and allow the failures of not having a proper water resource management plan invite the invasion of those who are driven by a purely profit motive. Hard lessons are being learnt by global communities whose water resources are being depleted by these water MNCs. Usual apologies by the World Bank, and others, will not compensate for the suffering of people from the adoption of mal-development policies.

The NFFA intends to monitor water activities closely and will be setting up a Water Watchers blog and keep citizens informed of water issues and progress by the Government and WASA to alleviate the suffering of citizens.

The NFFA calls for a national water policy that recognizes water as a human right in domestic law, declares surface and groundwater a public trust, and supports the recognition of water as a human right in international law.

Contacts: Norris Deonarine 774-1276 Glen Ramjag 355-0208