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United Nations Environment Programme
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Newsletter and Technical Publications
<International Source Book On Environmentally Sound Technologies
for Wastewater and Stormwater Management>

9. Small Island Developing States (Caribbean)

9.0 Introduction

The Caribbean Region is located to the south of Florida (USA), to the north of South America and bordered by Central American countries to the west. The Region is mainly comprised of "Small Island Developing States" (SIDS). Most of these countries were formerly British and French colonies. They have generally obtained independence, although many are still underdeveloped and are seeking international assistance for development.

The countries/islands within the Caribbean Region include: -
Northern
Cuba, Haiti and Santo Domingo, Puerto Rico, British Virgin Islands, Bahamas Islands, Turks and Caicos islands, Jamaica;
Leeward Islands
Anguilla (UK), St. Kitts-Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda, Montserrat, Guadeloupe, Dominica
Windward Islands
St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Grenada, Barbados, Martinique
Southern
Trinidad and Tobago

The larger and more developed countries in the region include Cuba, Puerto Rico, Martinique and Guadeloupe, with Jamiaca and Trinidad and Tobago leading the way. Countries striving towards development include: Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas Islands, Barbados, Grenada, British Virgin Islands (BVI) {Tortola being the most populated}, St. Kitts-Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Turks and Caicos islands. Montserrat is experiencing a decline in development due to recent volcanic problems, where over half of the population has left the island - original population was over 11,000.

Climatically the islands are generally warm, with occasions of unpredictable rainfall. Most of the islands have limestone geology with good drainage and infiltration. Some islands have a hard impermeable to semi-impermeable sub-soil. On some islands clay soil poses problems for stormwater and wastewater absorption.

Despite the slow pace of development, many countries/islands of the Caribbean area are major tourist destinations due to the attractions of the natural environment. There is a real danger that inadequate action and investment into managing wastewater and stormwater will cause harm to the natural environment, eroding ecosystem health and function and associated tourist attractions.

According to Francine Clouden, a sanitary engineer with the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute "...the increased supply of potable water together with the growing standard of living and increased industrialization in the Caribbean, including tourism, has resulted in more and more liquid waste (i.e. wastewater) to be disposed of. Considerable attention is therefore now being paid to liquid wastes in nearly all Caribbean countries. Following from this is the realization that liquid wastes are a major source of land-based pollution of the marine environment and therefore pose a significant threat to the integrity of the fragile ecosystems on whose survival the tourist based economies depend" (Clouden 1999).

In most of the countries of the Caribbean Region there is uneven distribution of inhabitants. "There is a tendency for the population to be concentrated on the coastal belt because of the need to be close to port facilities, fishing grounds and manufacturing and tourism activities.

In Caribbean countries the capital city is the focus of economic and service activity. There are usually a few additional important centres where populations are concentrated. In many instances there is also development in the suburban periphery and continuous linear patterns of settlement, especially along the coast. The remainder of the population is found in towns, villages and tenantries of varying size" (Clouden 1999).

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