2013 World Water Day Message

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Water is one of the key pillars of human development. Its importance cannot be overestimated. It impacts all of the leading global challenges - energy, food, health, natural disaster management, management of the environment, peace and security. World Water Day is held annually on March 22 as a means of focusing attention on the importance of freshwater resources and advocating for its sustainable management. This year, in reflection of the International Year of Water Cooperation, World Water Day is also dedicated to the theme of cooperation around water. World Water Day falls at a time when water-related issues in the Caribbean are prevalent in the news - from the early signs of drought in many of our islands, to deaths linked to consumption of contaminated water. Other major challenges facing the water sector in the Caribbean include: (a) inefficient service providers with inadequate tariff structures; (b) inadequate wastewater management systems; (c) poor access in rural areas; and (d) inadequate institutional arrangements for water resources management. In addition, there is overwhelming evidence that the risks to water resources associated with the impact of climate change are significant, especially for small island developing states. The concept of "water cooperation" advances an interdisciplinary approach to water resource management which involves technical, ethical, social, political, legal, institutional and economic dimensions. This cooperation is essential for effective management of the sector. Over the years, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has been an ardent proponent of cooperation in the water sector in the Caribbean. The Bank has brought the expertise of its multi-disciplinary team of professionals to bear in taking a holistic approach to the development of the water sector-related projects in its Borrowing Member Countries (BMCs). The Bank has assisted in providing basic infrastructure including: (a) the upgrading of intake facilities; (b) the expansion of transmission and distribution facilities; (c) the rehabilitation of groundwater systems; (d) the Construction of dams; and (e) the establishment of water desalination facilities. CDB has also worked with a variety national and Regional organisations to finance various water sector-related institutional strengthening initiatives. CDB is cognisant of the importance of a healthy water sector to Regional development. The Bank aspires to strengthen its role as a catalyst for the sustainable development of the sector. To this end, CDB has commissioned an assessment of the water sector in the Region. The consultants engaged will: (a) prepare water sector profiles and conduct initial assessments on the state of the water sector in individual BMCs; (b) evaluate the role of regional institutions and active funding agencies in the water sector in the Caribbean; and (c) conduct a preliminary assessment of the impact of CDB's policies and involvement in the water sector in its BMCs. It is envisaged that this study will not only serve as a guide to water sector planning and policy development in the individual BMCs, but it will inform CDB's own strategic approach to its interventions in the sector. As we commemorate World Water Day this year let us all recommit to working together towards the betterment of this critical sector and put our minds to finding new and more effective avenues of "cooperation". Image source:

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