March 10, 2023 | By Colin O. Jarrett |
The Government will be spending an additional $100 million to respond to the meteorological drought that the country is experiencing.
The sum is in addition to an initial $50 million to support the response measures by the Government.
Prime Minister, the Most Hon. Andrew Holness, made the announcement during a press conference at the Office of the Prime Minister in St. Andrew, on March 3.
Mr. Holness said the response will be channelled through the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, and the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries.
He informed that the resources will be concentrated on the rural areas that are being impacted by the drought.
“We still have sufficient supplies in our catchment and treatment facilities and in our reservoirs, even though some of them are showing decline. The utility areas, meaning the areas served largely by the NWC (National Water Commission) through metered water, they are not affected as badly as the rural areas. For this phase of our drought response, we are going to be focusing on our rural parishes and we will be directing the funds by need,” the Prime Minister said.
Mr. Holness added, however, that urban communities affected will also benefit from the allocation.
The Prime Minister noted that a case-by-case basis will be undertaken, “so that we maximise the value of the response”.
He said Members of Parliament will receive an allocation through the Constituency Development Fund, “but only in the parishes that have been assessed as being in need”.
“The Government will be putting in more resources. The resources will be targeted to needs, of course. If it worsens or lasts longer than we expect, then we will come back to the nation, and explain a new strategy of how we will assist,” Mr. Holness said.
He noted, too, that additional trucks are being purchased by the NWC to increase the agency’s capacity.
“In November last year, we took receipt of eight new water trucks, so your Government has been increasing the capacity to respond to this crisis,” he said, adding that trucks were also provided to Municipal Corporations.
“We are going to continue to increase our capacity with trucking and the replenishment of the capacity of our rapid response for water,” the Prime Minister emphasised.
Meanwhile, he urged Jamaicans to conserve on their use of water, as part of efforts to mitigate the impact of the drought.
Eleven parishes are affected by the meteorological drought, according to the Meteorological Office. Meteorological Drought is based on the degree of dryness or rainfall deficit and the length of the dry period.