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Workshop to Promote Environmentally Sound Water and Wastewater Provision at the Community Level in the Caribbean (in Kingston, Jamaica, on 28-29 November 2007)

Organized in cooperation with:
UNEP Caribbean Regional Coordinating Unit (UNEP CAR RCU)


The degradation of the Caribbean marine environment is a serious concern for those countries whose livelihoods depend heavily on its resources. UNEP-GPA's October 2006 Report on the "State of the Marine Environment" singled out untreated wastewater entering the world's oceans and seas as the most serious problem contributing to marine pollution, putting at risk human health and wildlife and livelihoods from fisheries to tourism. According to the report, in Latin American and the Caribbean, it is estimated that the percentage of wastewater from all sources entering the Sea untreated is as high as 85%.

In addition, access to water and sanitation for the rural areas remains low at 73% and 49% in the Caribbean and Latin American region (WHO/UNICEF Joint Monitoring Programme, 2004). Climate change impacts are also expected to adversely affect access to water and sanitation, and impact the suitability of various technical options that are currently used for water and sanitation provision.

The Countries of the Wider Caribbean Basin demonstrated their support for efficient and effective domestic waste water management by ratifying the Convention for the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment in the Wider Caribbean Region, also known as the Cartagena Convention, adopted in Cartagena, Colombia on 24 March 1983, and signing the Protocol on Land based Sources of Marine Pollution (LBS Protocol), which was adopted on October 6, 1999. Both of these legal instruments set ambitious goals to govern domestic sewage discharges into the waters of the wider Caribbean. Accordingly, Annex III of the LBS Protocol was designed to meet these goals by providing sewage effluent quality guidelines, criteria for classification of receiving waters, and timetables for countries to implement appropriate wastewater treatment services.

UNEP has the mandate to facilitate the implementation of environmentally sound technologies (ESTs). In particular, UNEP DTIE IETC has been promoting EST implementation for water and wastewater provision at the community level in the developing countries. The UNEP work focuses on water and sanitation in order to assist countries address the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets on reducing the proportion of people without sustainable access to safe drinking water (MDG Goal 7, Target 10), and the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation goal of reducing the proportion of people without sanitation access. Specifically, DTIE IETC works to assess and identify suitable EST options, provide support for pilot level implementation of these options, and to collaborate with local partners to create an enabling environment for mainstreaming.

One of the prerequisites to raise funds for improving the access to water and sanitation, improving wastewater management and for reducing marine pollution on a wider-scale is baseline surveys and needs assessments followed by the pilot level implementation of suitable options.

Efforts to install cost efficient wastewater facilities at different scales have been hampered among others by the lack of adequate financial resources specifically dedicated to this purpose. Therefore, there is an urgent need to develop or strengthen innovative financial mechanisms for projects and activities to address these critical issues.

In response to the above mentioned situation, the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) are proposing the creation of a Caribbean Revolving Fund for Wastewater Management (CReW) to include 3 components: (i) the establishment of an innovative financial mechanism that enables the national / local governments, private sector / civil society stakeholders of the Caribbean Basin to co-finance projects aimed at helping them to address wastewater management; (ii) a regional coordination, communications and capacity building component for promoting learning, information exchange and institutional strengthening at the regional level; and (iii) a monitoring and evaluation component that will produce the information necessary to measure the performance of the CReW towards achieving its global environmental objectives. Simultaneously direct and indirect financial support will be encouraged as a result of documented good practices and lessons learned.

With this background, the Workshop to promote environmentally sound water and wastewater provision at the community level in Caribbean region was organized on 28-29 November 2007, in Kingston, Jamaica by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) with partnership of International Environmental Technology Centre of the Division of Technology, Industry and Economics (UNEP DTIE IETC) and the Regional Coordinating Unit for the Caribbean Environment Programme (UNEP CAR RCU).


The objectives of this Workshop were to:

  1. Assess recent progress in the provision of water and sanitation services at the community level in the Caribbean;
  2. Discuss priorities for future action in the short, medium and long term;
  3. Identify additional areas of cooperation between UNEP, participating countries and regional agencies; and
  4. Promote exchange of experiences and best practices among workshop participants.

There were a total of 21 participants including government representatives from Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda, Saint Lucia, Bahamas, Cuba and Panama, wastewater experts from the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI) and the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association (CWWA) and Jamaican representatives from the Construction Resource and Development Centre (CRDC), St. Elizabeth Parish Council and Breadnut Walk Community. The Workshop was delivered through presentations and discussions, group work and a site visit.

Presentations and discussions

Workshop in Jamaica The workshop participants benefited specifically from the sharing of experiences from water and wastewater community projects in several Caribbean countries. The workshop also offered an opportunity to explore new innovative ways to finance small-scale water and sewage projects and to identify more cost-effective solutions to water and wastewater management especially at the community level. Presentations and discussions were held in five sessions as follows:

Session 1: Overview of Wastewater Management and Environmentally Sound Technologies

The first session focused on giving an overview of challenges facing the region in wastewater management and to present the programs and projects supported by UNEP in the region. Potential areas where UNEP could provide further support were outlined.

Session 2: Implementation of Water and Sanitation Projects in Jamaica

In this session, progress of rural water and sanitation program in Jamaica and the past and on-going initiatives supported by UNEP were presented. Discussion focused on Jamaica White Horses sanitation project and ongoing project on environmentally sound water and sanitation provision for rural communities in Jamaica in Saint Elizabeth Parish. Experiences, lessons learned and areas for future support were shared.

Session 3: Sewage Needs Pilot Assessments

Session on Sewage needs pilot assessments focused on experiences and the lessons learned during completed and ongoing pilot assessments in St Lucia, Panama and Tobago. Feedback on the sewage needs assessment guidelines was discussed.

Session 4: Demonstration Projects for improving Wastewater Management

Experiences and lessons learned on the implementation of projects for wastewater management in Bahamas, Antigua and Cuba were presented and discussed. Feedback on project planning and management, and technical, financial and social challenges faced during implementation was given.

Session 5: Networking, Financing and Partnership Opportunitiest

This session focused on introducing the Caribbean Revolving Fund (CreW) for Wastewater Management. This new financial mechanism has been developed to fill the gap between micro and macro financing targeting only for wastewater management. Caribbean Water and Wastewater and Association (CWWA) provided an overview of their role on building partnerships and supporting water and wastewater management in the Caribbean. Participants suggested that application/reporting requirements associated with accessing funds in general acts as a barrier to small communities and indicated that assistance/support in this area will facilitate implementation.

Workshop in Jamaica

Group Exercise

Group exercise focused on identifying project ideas for which UNEP can provide support. Participants presented seven project ideas related to water and wastewater management that will be further developed by UNEP.

Site Visit Workshop in Jamaica

Workshop included a site visit to small community wastewater treatment facilities in Kingston. Two facilities visited, namely Barbican and College Green, were well maintained and informed the participanton the importance of maintenance. In addition Scientific Research Council's wastewater treatment project on anaerobic technology treating food processing waste to generate methane gas was also introduced.

Please refer to the sections below for information related to the workshop.

1. Agenda

2. Presentations

Caribbean Environmental Health Institute (CEHI)

Construction Resource & Development Centre (CRDC)

National Authority of the Environment, Republic of Panama

Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment, Cuba