CDB grant to further develop Vieux Fort, St. Lucia water supply systems

The way is now clear for the next step in a collaborative process between the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of St. Lucia which will bring a reliable supply of potable water to over 19,000 people residing in the town of Vieux Fort.

CDB’s Board of Directors on Thursday, December 11, 2014, approved a loan of USD19.675 mn for the redevelopment of the town’s water supply system, a project that will cost an estimated USD24 mn.

The project will provide an efficient, reliable, climate resilient and sustainable supply of potable water to Vieux Fort and its environs by December 31, 2018. Included in this will be the provision for 15 kilometres of new transmission mains and three new pumping stations. There will also be a treatment plant consisting of sedimentation tanks and rapid dual-media filters and chlorination facilities, as well as three new storage reservoirs totalling 4,000 cubic metres.

CDB will also provide a grant of USD335,000 to assist in financing consultancy services for capacity building of the Water and Sewerage Company Inc. and the Water Resource Management Authority; and for evaluating the impact of the Project on gender relations in Vieux Fort and its environs.

The Vieux Fort water system serves Vieux Fort, Laborie, and their environs. The communities served consist of approximately 8,600 households, with an estimated population of 19,500, as well as institutional and commercial enterprises in Vieux Fort and the surrounding areas.

According to Saint Lucia’s Population and Housing Census (2010), just over four per cent of households (approximately 2,592 households) had access to water from a public standpipe. The census highlighted significant water-access challenges faced by residents in Vieux Fort and surrounding communities, and revealed that only one-fifth of households were in a position to service their short-term needs. Only 20.8 per cent of the Vieux Fort households and 18 per cent of the Laborie households had tanks at their homes.

In this regard, a substantive percentage of the households in the project area have limited backup storage when there are water outages, or prolonged periods of interrupted service. Survey data confirms that some poor and vulnerable, and indigent households (including informal settlements) with limited or no access to potable water due to shortages or other factors, resort to the river and other sources. In St. Lucia, as in other Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs), the fetching of water from alternative sources and its utilisation in the domestic sphere are activities usually associated with women’s work and have time-use implications. 

In poor households, in particular, where women spend significant amounts of time on household work, they are less able to work in paid employment and to contribute to economic growth in the country.

Issues of water access also affect the business community in Vieux Fort. The challenges have become more acute during certain times of the year, including periods of drought, excessive rainfall, and hurricanes. The unreliability of the water supply system affects productivity and profitability with implications for business growth, investment, and job creation.

CDB in 2012, along with the Government of Germany, supported the Government of St. Lucia in funding the preparation of a technically and financially feasible programme of works to improve the water supply system.  CDB’s contribution was a grant of USD120,000.