Hon. Spencer Brand delivers address in observance of World Water Day 2019

NIA CHARLESTOWN NEVIS (March 22, 2019) — The following is an address by Hon. Spencer Brand, Minister in the Ministry of Water Services in the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) for the observance of World Water Day. The theme is “Leaving No One Behind.”
All would agree that water is very vital to our very existence! The characteristics of good water quality is colourless and odourless because not all raw water sources are clean. Water is the main element in all living organisms including human beings, to the extent that these organisms cannot live without it. Therefore water is life. It was the United Nations in 2010 that recognised “the right to safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full employment of life and all human rights.”

This is why I believe the theme on this World Water Day 2019: “Leaving no one behind,” is important and quite relevant. This theme is in keeping with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number six (SDG 6) which ensures availability and access to clean water and sanitation for all by the year 2030.

Even though having access to water on Nevis is not a major problem when compared to the rest of the world, we must not take the access and availability of water for granted, as successive Administrations over the years have invested heavily to ensure that all sectors, parishes, villages, communities and households on the island of Nevis benefit from potable water for various purposes. For instance, the Nevis Island Administration (NIA) has invested over $30million to improve the water infrastructure with funding assistance from the Caribbean Development Bank; and we are taking measures to ensure that our economy and people would have access to more water in the near future by exploring for additional sources of drinking water.

We must be cognizant that a number of factors threaten the sustainability of our water resource. These include climate change, bad environmental practices, the increasing demand for water due to increasing standards of living and social status, population dynamics, economic development, and a lack of water harvesting and conservation practices, to name a few. On this World Water Day, it is imperative that we work hand-in-hand to secure, protect and sustain our water resources; and partner with all stakeholders including every citizen, the private sector, regional and international organizations, to ensure that before 2030, we would have 100 percent access and availability of potable water for all residents and people on Nevis.

To this end, after some research and a subsequent application to the CARICOM Development Fund (CDF) the Ministry of Water Services was successful in securing funding to install a water filtration system that we expect will add an additional 200-plus imperial gallons per minute to the system. We will replace the old reservoir in Hamilton with a larger modern 400,000 imperial gallon storage tank and later we will also change the Pond Hill tank with a 300,000 gallon reservoir. We believe these initiatives will greatly improve our water delivery capabilites.

With an Integrated Water Resource Management strategy; a proper legal, regulatory and institutional framework; access to sufficient funding; an educated population and the application of the relevant skills, I firmly believe we can achieve this goal and live up to this year’s World Water Day theme of “Leaving no one behind.”

We recognise and applaud the NIA for putting water high on its development agenda, the dedicated leadership and commitment of the management and staff of the Nevis Water Department, the collaboration and cooperation of allied government agencies and departments, the support of regional and international organizations, and the cooperation and understanding of the people of Nevis especially as we ride out this current dry season, while taking steps to increase water supply so that we can be more resilient. We recognise you and I say thank you.

As we reflect further on this World Water Day 2019, let us count our blessings and name them one by one because a cursory glance at the world statistics on water reveals that 2.1 billion people in the world live without safe water at home. One in four primary schools throughout the world has no drinking water service, with pupils using unprotected sources or going thirsty. Around four-billion people, nearly two third of the world’s population, experience severe water scarcity at least one month of the year. Globally, 80 percent of the people who have unsafe and unprotected water sources live in rural areas, and women and children are responsible for water collection in eight out of the 10 households with water off premises.

These data show that there is still a lot of work to be done. The NIA recognises that there is still a lot of work to be done on Nevis. Hence, we call upon all stakeholders and every citizen to partner with us to ensure no one is left behind, and that there is sustainability in the access to and availability of clean water for all, now and in the foreseeable future.

With these few brief words, I wish all a Happy World Water Day 2019!

Thank you and God bless.

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