The challenges facing Small Island Developing States
From the executive summary:
A feature of water resources in the Caribbean is the diverse organisational arrangements governing management. Jamaica and Guyana have a ministry dedicated to water management, but in most states, water management forms just one part of a ministry portfolio, and often, responsibility is spread across more than one ministry. Responsibility for tariffs and economic regulation is rarely exercised independently of ministerial/cabinet control.
In most states, water service providers also undertake water resources management. Water supply and wastewater services are undertaken by a government-owned company or statutory authority, with little independent oversight and evaluation. Little distinction is made between responsibilities for water services and water resources management, as they are centralised within the same organisation. This reflects a predominant supply-side paradigm that sees water resources as an integral extension of water supply services. This centralising tendency is underpinned by the political dispensations that came into being after independence, which sought to address a legacy of neglect and marginalisation of large sections of the population on the grounds of colour and race. Programmes were implemented to greatly expand provision and access to basic services, such as health care, education, and water and sanitation. As a result, the region made significant progress in water supply, and most countries report over 95 percent access. Concomitantly, the public have come to expect that governments will provide services by guaranteeing financial support to ensure minimal cost to the public so that services are affordable. The problems now being encountered include quality of service, maintenance and operation of existing infrastructure, ageing infrastructure, high levels of unaccounted for water, and quality of potable water. This suggests difficulties with the management of water services and with securing the necessary levels of investment to address the supply–demand gap.
Water resources management faces challenges that affect water availability and long-term freshwater security. An example is the increasing threat to streamflows caused when catchments are converted for development and agriculture. Overall water security is an emerging challenge, which the present institutional frameworks and enabling environments are increasingly ill-equipped to deal with. Although many governments acknowledge the need for change and to develop plans, existing efforts to put these plans into practice have not proved sufficient. Regional interventions have failed to get offthe ground and national-level interventions have fared little better. The main challenge facing regional approaches is diversity, and so water resources management should focus on developing common frameworks and standards.