PIOJ Project Aims to Reverse Loss Within Three Watersheds

Work is underway to improve the country’s resilience to the impact of climate change by reversing the ecological loss in three Watershed Management Units (WMUs): the Wag Water, the Rio Nuevo and the Rio Bueno/White River.

This is a part of a project called “A Jamaican Path From Hills to Ocean” that is coordinated by the Planning Institute of Jamaica (PIOJ) and jointly funded by the European Union Global Climate Change Alliance Plus (GCCA+) in the amount of €4.9 million ($859 506 060), and the Government of Jamaica of €1.1 million ($192 950 340). The project started in 2020 and will run until 2025.

Among the citizen groups whose partnership will be critical to the success of the Hills to Ocean programme are farmers, fisher folk, entrepreneurs, environmental groups, women and youth. The outcomes will include their adoption of at least one new climate resilient land management practice.

Minister Without Portfolio in the Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Senator Matthew Samuda, noted, “The process will not be painless, because any dislocation to the most vulnerable in society causes difficulties,” as he urged the project’s partners, NEPA and three divisions in the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries: Parks and Gardens, Fisheries, and the Rural Agriculture Development Agency to meet the stated goals.

Also addressing participants, Deputy Director General, International Partnerships, European Commission, Ms Myriam Ferran said that climate change has high priority within the European Union and that the project is a part of the EU’s global gateway strategy to cooperate with partners to lead sustainable connectivity and activities.

Surveys that have been conducted show that communities not only have a high degree of awareness of climate change and the land management issues that face them; they are also ready to put forward solutions to their experiences of reduced fish harvests, reduced clean water and also soil loss. Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries Chief Technical Director Mr Courtney Cole said of the project, “It can help the communities that are working with the agencies to achieve sustainable management and use of natural resources as well as hazard risk reduction and adaptation to climate change.”

In 2021, researchers from the Department of Life Sciences UWI, reported that the endemic closed broadleaf forests that protect and sustain these significant natural resources have been significantly disturbed. This has been having an impact on the amount of clean water being discharged in the rivers and streams.