Help could soon be on the way for water-starved communities across Barbados.
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) said it was working feverishly with the authorities to disburse funds under an already approved $80 million loan agreement with the Barbados Water Authority (BWA).
“We regard it as a very high priority project. We want the monies to move as rapidly as possible. We have no reasons to believe that the Government of Barbados and the water authorities here do not see it in the same way . . . . So the engagement has got to be one where we push as hard as we can and urge the authorities to do the things that enable us to disburse sooner rather than later,” CDB President Warren Smith told Barbados TODAY in an interview yesterday.
Amid persistent water outages, which have mainly affected residents in rural parishes, such as St Joseph and St Peter, Smith said the Bank was acutely aware of the serious problems facing “water-deficient” Barbados.
He also stressed the importance of water to the general economic infrastructure of the country, while warning that “you cannot be bringing tourists in large numbers to this country and not be able to have a reliable water supply.
“What is happening here is not very different from what obtains across the region. The infrastructure, water infrastructure, needs to be modernized and that is part of what that [$80 million] loan is all about, to help the Government of Barbados to address the water infrastructure, to modernize it, to reduce losses in the system, because that is a big, big source of the cost of water and also the availability of water across the Caribbean,” he said, pointing out that losses tended to be in the order of 50 per cent or higher.
Asked if any of the funds would go directly to assist residents of St Joseph and other areas that have been hardest hit by water outages in recent months, Smith said the final decision was not his to make.
“[However], I would imagine that the project would be defined in such a way that the benefits are targeted at the areas in greatest need.”
Under the loan agreement, funds are to be allocated to infrastructural works. These include water production facilities upgrade; reservoir replacement and refurbishment; mains replacement; photovoltaic supply and installation; and non-revenue water equipment supply and installation.