A strong word of warning today to the Freundel Stuart administration that it needs to provide immediate answers to the people of Barbados on the country’s deepening water crisis.
With residents in several communities across the island currently crying out for relief from water woes, political scientist Dr George Belle has cautioned Government that the matter has now moved beyond the issue of managing and distributing water supplies.
In fact, he told Barbados TODAY it was now a serious political issue; one which strikes at the heart of this country’s governance system.
“It is a problem of national proportions and that is what a Government is there to deal with,” said Belle, who warned that even though the issue may not be enough to break the back of the current Democratic Labour Party regime, it could result in major political fallout as a result.
“You cannot deal with it on the basis of just a managerial approach that it is being addressed and that type of thing. You have to engage it as an emergency impacting on people’s lives in critical areas and that you have a responsibility as their representative to do something about it,” said Belle.
He stressed that while medium to long-term solutions could be dealt with in a managerial way, creative and imaginative political action was needed in the short term to quell the immediate concerns.
“It [the water crisis] is being treated as a managerial problem and not a political problem and it is a political problem because it is a problem now of governance that is impacting immediately on people’s lives in a critical and serious way.
“So therefore, you need leadership at the level of the society, and that is what a Government is there to do and it has to be creative and imaginative in situations like this, because normal things will not bring the solution quickly and people need the solution quickly,” Belle argued, while pointing out that “you don’t drink water in three months time, you drink water now”.
His comments came ahead of a press conference scheduled for tomorrow by the Minister of Water Resource Management Dr David Estwick in response to the worsening water woes that have made the entire Government — including the state-run Barbados Water Authority (BWA) — appear incompetent.
Back in April, the minister had rolled out a programme to address the water outages affecting northern parishes.
He revealed back then that BWA officials had settled on two contractors to build two permanent desalination plants.
While blaming the prolonged outages on a persistent drought, Dr Estwick had also announced that he had given permission to the Board of Directors of the BWA to ask that the desalination plant that already exists “carries itself to the maximum” and that Williams Industries expands the present desalination plant output by as much as three million gallons.
He had also given residents of St Joseph, parts of St Thomas, St Andrew and St Peter the assurance that with the completion of the well at Sweet Vale, St George the water feeding into the Castle Grant Reservoir would address the water outages in those areas.
However, so far sustained relief has not been forthcoming, even as other districts have been added to the list of BWA casualties.