In Belize, safer water for more secure livelihoods

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Almost every four out of 10 families live below the poverty line in the Indian Church and San Carlos Villages of Belize. Without a safe, reliable supply of water, building sustainable livelihoods has been even more difficult for the 100 households who call these communities home. However, May 6 signalled a turnaround when the Indian Church / San Carlos Hybrid Solar Water System was inaugurated during a community ceremony. Through funding from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Belize, households now have better access to a continuous supply of reliable, quality, safe water. “More than 500 residents of Indian Church and San Carlos will be able to wash, cook and take a bath easier," said Hon. Hugo Patt, Minister of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development, Belize. “This project is one of its kind, in that it is a hybrid solar system. We will be harnessing the energy from the sun to supply the electricity needed to keep the system working," he explained. The solar panels that are part of the Indian Church / San Carlos Hybrid Solar Water System. The system will jointly serve the villages, where taking a bath or having a drink of water in the past could have been dangerous to families' health. Residents, including children at Indian Church schools, once used untreated water from hand-dug wells, hand pumps, lagoons and tanks. Now a 20,000-gallon water reservoir, constructed at the highest point at the entrance of Indian Church village, will send gravity-fed water to the residents of the twin villages‚Äîa process powered by the sun. “This water system is a model sub-project in our portfolio, and the first such intervention we have funded. It is an initiative of which the Government of Belize and the villages of Indian Church and San Carlos should be most proud," said Darran Newman, Portfolio Manager, Basic Needs Trust Fund (BNTF), CDB. With the new water system, villagers will no longer have to spend money on purified water, or time gathering water. These savings will provide more opportunities for them to create sustainable, productive livelihoods. Two residents who will benefit from the new water system in the Indian Church and San Carlos Villages. Many residents of Indian Church are engaged in food-services enterprises, which can now run more efficiently with the new water system in place. In addition, the intervention brings with it a promise of improved business opportunities for people who live in San Carlos Village. Here, horticulture and habanero pepper production drive the community' economy. Under the sub-project, members of the water board also received training on how to effectively and efficiently manage and operate the water system. In addition, they learned basic accounting through a programme organised by the Ministry of Labour, Local Government and Rural Development. CDB financed the sub-project through a loan of USD412,000 from the Social Investment Fund II (SIF II). The Government of Belize provided USD22,000 and the communities of San Carlos and Indian Church USD16,250 in subsidised trenching. The SIF II loan, combined with USD5.5 million and USD1.6 million committed to Belize in the seventh and eighth cycles of CDB' Basic Needs Trust Fund respectively, continues to support projects in education and human resource development, water and sanitation improvement, and basic community access and drainage improvement across the country.

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