Thu | Jul 18, 2024

Water security: A strategic imperative for Jamaica

Published:Saturday | May 25, 2024 | 12:10 AM


Water is the single most essential resource that any nation, including Jamaica, cannot do without. While the country currently does not face an immediate need to import water to meet local demand, this situation may not remain the same indefinitely. The COVID-19 pandemic has vividly illustrated the vulnerability of relying on external sources for critical supplies. During the outbreak, the United States prioritised its domestic demand for essential drugs, limiting their availability to other countries, including Jamaica. This experience underscores the importance of self-sufficiency, especially for indispensable resources like water.

The Jamaican government has been commendably focused on modernising the economy and improving our financial health. However, financial stability alone is not sufficient in times of global crises, such as climate change, which may prompt nations to restrict the export of vital resources, including food and water. This article does not advocate for prioritising one aspect of nation-building over another. Instead, it emphasises the need for a strategic approach to secure our future.

Reliance on black tanks for water storage is not a long-term solution; it is merely a temporary measure. Sustainable solutions include:

Water recycling: Implementing systems to treat and reuse waste water can significantly reduce water scarcity and improve resilience against droughts.

Desalination plants: Investing in desalination technology can provide a steady supply of potable water from seawater, ensuring long-term water security. Yes, desalination plants are expensive to operate and maintain using the current available technology, but strategic research and development partnerships could help share the costs and preserve capital.

Maintaining watershed areas: Protecting and restoring our watershed areas is crucial for preserving the natural water cycle and ensuring a sustainable water supply.

Cleaning water catchment and storage ponds: Regular maintenance and improvement of these facilities can enhance water quality and availability.

Furthermore, food security should be pursued as aggressively as revenue collection and financial management. Diversifying and securing our food supply chains, promoting local agriculture, and investing in sustainable farming practices are critical steps toward ensuring that Jamaica can withstand global disruptions and maintain food and water security. We could start familiarising Jamaicans with other types of safe foods outside our culture that are available in Jamaica and consumed in other countries.

Strategic planning and proactive measures are essential to safeguard Jamaica’s water and food resources. By investing in sustainable water management practices and enhancing food security, we can build a resilient and self-sufficient nation capable of withstanding future global challenges.


Brumalia, Mandeville