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U.S. Strategy on Water, Development a “Major Advance”
U.S. officials Tuesday formally unveiled the government’s first comprehensive strategy aimed at integrating water into all U.S. development funding and programmes, a step long urged by advocates and development experts.
Piped water has made life easier for this Laotian boy, who no longer has to help his parents fetch water from afar. Credit:Vannaphone Sitthirath/IPS
Civil society groups are expressing excitement over the scope and strength of the new strategy, dubbing it a “major advance”. But many are also calling on lawmakers to ensure that, during the coming implementation phase, U.S. aid is targeted primarily at the poorest communities in developing and middle-income countries.
“Achieving water security for regions, nations, and individuals is one of the greatest development challenges confronting the world today,” the new Water and Development Strategy, released Tuesday by USAID, the country’s main foreign aid arm, states. “By its nature, as a basic and essential resource, water considerations cut across nearly every aspect of USAID programming.”
Yet because of this cross-cutting nature – the new document covers both the human and agricultural uses of water – the new strategy was a very long time coming, requiring input and agreement from a vast number of government agencies and stakeholders.
“It is kind of astounding that this is the U.S. government’s first such strategy, though it is something that many groups have long been advocating for,” Alanna Imbach, media officer with WaterAid America, a global advocacy and implementing group, told IPS.
“For many years in development work, water, sanitation and hygiene have been a bit forgotten. Instead, significant focus has been placed on education, maternal health and nutrition, overlooking the fact that water and sanitation are foundational building blocks for all of those other elements. So it’s now urgent that we get this right first and then the others will fall into place.”
Indeed, the ongoing impact of these issues remains incredibly wide. In developing countries, some 5,000 children are estimated to die every day from water-borne diseases, overwhelmingly from diarrhoea due to bad drinking water, poor sanitation and inadequate hygiene.
Every year, around 2.5 billion such cases are recorded among young children alone, and the knock-on effects are vast.
“We know that every dollar we invest in clean water and basic sanitation yields eight dollars in benefits,” Dick Durbin, a U.S. senator who has championed related legislation, said Tuesday at the public unveiling of the new strategy. “People are healthier, kids stay in school, food is safer, AIDS drugs and other critical health treatments are able to work.”
In fact, international recognition of this centrality has led to some initial global success: the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) to halve the proportion of those without access to clean drinking water was met in 2010, five years early.
Yet another MDG to similarly cut the number of those without access to basic sanitation remains outstanding, and the United Nations says the world will not likely achieve this goal by 2015. According to USAID, some 40 percent of the world continues to use unsafe toilets – when they have toilets at all.
Advocates say it is critical that the new USAID strategy will attempt simultaneously to tackle both water and sanitation-related issues. Setting out a plan for the next five years, the aim is to provide at least 10 million people with “sustainable access” to an improved water supply and six million people with access to improved sanitation during that period.
Notably, the plan puts into action new USAID guidance to emphasise local ownership and sustainability of U.S.-funded aid projects, while offering greatly expanded flexibility on how that funding is to be used.
“What’s great about this strategy is that it opens up space for creative programming in water development,” Ned Breslin, CEO of Water For People, a humanitarian group, told IPS. “It’s a huge step forward.”
The United States already has in place one piece of legislation requiring that water and sanitation be a central priority for U.S. foreign funding, known as the Water for the Poor Act, passed in 2005. Further, that law also requires that water and sanitation-related aid be centred on countries that have the least access to those services, with the aim of having the greatest possible impact on other development goals.
Yet policymakers have never followed up to define an implementation plan for this goal, as mandated by the Water for the Poor Act. And while the new USAID strategy is not that implementation plan, observers are now planning to push lawmakers to ensure that the new strategy is closely aligned with the objectives of the 2005 legislation.
Indeed, the strategy itself stipulates that USAID will advance programmes “consistent” with that law, “including establishing criteria to designate high priority countries for increased investments”.
Yet much of the language in the strategy also contextualises water within a fast-strengthening narrative of national security, in line with a major report last year from the U.S. intelligence community that identified water security as a primary threat to U.S. interests in coming decades.
As such, the strategy mandates focusing new water and sanitation emphasis on countries for three reasons, one of which is “strategic considerations”.
“My concern is what the balance is going to be here – I’d like to see the vast majority of these funds going to countries and communities where water and sanitation access levels are under 75 percent, rather than to those countries where significant access already exists,” John Oldfield, CEO of WASH Advocates, a Washington advocacy group on issues of water and sanitation, told IPS.
“Plus, you can’t forget about the poor communities in middle-income countries. The new strategy can be very pro-poor, depending on how one interprets it, but these are issues on which we need to continue to work with USAID.”
WaterAid’s Imbach has similar concerns, warning that the strategy currently allows for a “fair proportion of funds” to go to countries of strategic importance. She says her office is now looking to Congressional leaders to ensure accountability to the poor.
One such opportunity could be quickly approaching, with lawmakers preparing to re-introduce a bill called the Water for the World Act, an earlier version of which was defeated in 2010. That legislation would “offer an opportunity to ensure that those most in need are benefiting from U.S.-funded water and sanitation funding,” Imbach says.
The Water for the World Act could be re-introduced as early as next month.
Stressed Ecosystems Leaving Humanity High and Dry
A man hauls water at the Chico Mendes landless peasant camp in Pernambuco, Brazil. Credit: Alejandro Arigón/IPS
Everyone knows water is life. Far too few understand the role of trees, plants and other living things in ensuring we have clean, fresh water.
This dangerous ignorance results in destruction of wetlands that once cleaned water and prevented destructive and costly flooding, scientists and activists warn."We have accelerated major processes like erosion, applied massive quantities of nitrogen that leaks from soil to ground and surface waters and, sometimes, literally siphoned all water from rivers." -- GWSP's Anik Bhaduri
Around the world, politicians and others in power have made and continue to make decisions based on short-term economic interests without considering the long-term impact on the natural environment, said Anik Bhaduri, executive officer of the Global Water System Project (GWSP), a research institute based in Bonn, Germany.
“Humans are changing the character of the world water system in significant ways with inadequate knowledge of the system and the consequences of changes being imposed,” Bhaduri told IPS.
The list of human impacts on the world’s water – of which only 0.03percent is available as freshwater – is long and the scale of those impacts daunting.
“We have accelerated major processes like erosion, applied massive quantities of nitrogen that leaks from soil to ground and surface waters and, sometimes, literally siphoned all water from rivers, emptying them for human uses before they reach the ocean,” Bhaduri said.
On average, humanity has built one large dam every day for the last 130 years, which distorts the natural river flows to which ecosystems and aquatic life adapted over millennia. Two-thirds of major river deltas are sinking due to pumping out groundwater, oil and gas. Some deltas are falling at a rate four times faster than global sea level is rising.
More than 65 percent of the world’s rivers are in trouble, according to one study published in Nature in 2010. Those findings were very “conservative” since there was not enough data to assess impacts of climate change, pharmaceutical compounds, mining wastes and water transfers, Charles Vörösmarty of the City University of New York previously told IPS.
Recently, China’s First National Census of Water discovered they’d lost more than 28,000 rivers compared to just 20 years ago. Most experts blame the loss on massive overuse and engineering projects to shift water from one region to another.
“We treat symptoms of environmental abuse rather than underlying causes…by throwing concrete, pipes, pumps, and chemicals at our water problems, to the tune of a half-trillion dollars a year,” said Vörösmarty, who is also co-chair and a founding member of the GWSP.
As these problems continue to mount, the public is largely unaware of this reality or its growing costs, he said in a release.
Protecting and investing in natural infrastructure is far cheaper than concrete and pipes, representing the smarter solution to water security. This approach also benefits tourism, recreation and cultural benefits, improved resilience and biodiversity conservation.
World experts are meeting in Bonn, Germany this week to consolidate this understanding and offer policy makers solutions to prevent ongoing damage to the global water system.
The Water in the Anthropocene conference will also make recommendations on how decision makers can adapt to the multiple challenges of growing water use, declining ecosystems and climate change.
The public and policy makers are not aware of these huge water challenges, said water expert Janos Bogardi, senior advisor to GWSP. Education aside, there is an overwhelming need to have well-defined global water quantity and quality standards that meet the needs of people, agriculture and healthy ecosystems.
The upcoming U.N. Sustainable Development Goals are expected to include “water security”, which is huge step forward, Bogardi told IPS.
“Defining these interrelated needs is huge challenge for scientists and politicians alike,” he said.
Reasonable daily water use to meet sanitary needs and drinking is 40 to 80 litres, but U.S. per capita daily use is over 300 litres, while Germany is 120 litres. In urban Hungary, where water is relatively expensive, consumption is 80 litres/day.
But how much water does nature need?
GWSP scientists’ best guess at this point is that taking 30 percent to 40 percent of a renewable freshwater resource constitutes “extreme” water stress which could tip an ecosystem into collapse. This can be mitigated if water is returned and recycled in good quality. Mining fossil groundwater resources is by definition non-sustainable.
“We have to be careful that the water security goal is truly sustainable for ecosystems,” Bogardi said.
It is not clear that the Sustainable Development Goal on water will “simultaneously optimise water security for humans as well as for nature”, said Vörösmarty.
“The water sciences community stands ready to take on this challenge. Are the the decision makers?” he asked.
Organic Cooperative Proves that Agriculture Can Prosper in Cuba
Of the 195 workers at Vivero Alamar, 46 are women. Credit: Jorge Luis Baños/IPS
“The people are the only thing that matters,” says agronomist Miguel Ángel Salcines, who then goes on to list a series of other “secondary” factors that have turned Vivero Alamar, an urban farm on the outskirts of the Cuban capital, into a rare success story in the country’s depressed agricultural sector.
“We offer flexible hours, relatively high wages, and professional upgrading, among other benefits that make the cooperative an attractive option. This is how we attract high quality human resources, who are crucial today in order to produce more organic food,” said Salcines, the president of Vivero Alamar, where production has been chemical-free since 2000.
The cooperative’s recipe for success also includes transparent accounting, equitable profit sharing, interest-free loans for the workers, free lunches, and support for women workers with young children or others in their care: they are allowed to arrive up to an hour later than the official beginning of the work day, at seven in the morning, Salcines told Tierramérica*.
Human capital played a decisive role in raising production at this urban agriculture venture, founded in 1997 on an initial 800 square metres of land in the community of Alamar, around 15 kilometres east of downtown Havana. This is why Salcines believes that the key to achieving food security in Cuba lies in agricultural workers with a “vocation” for farming, as well as training.
In 2012, world food prices skyrocketed as a result of poor crop yields in various centres of agricultural production, such as the United States. The Caribbean countries, which are net food importers, suffered the greatest impact in the region, according to the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC).
Less than five percent of the population of Cuba suffers from malnutrition, but the country was forced to spend over 1.633 billion dollars on food imports last year, an unsustainable expenditure for an economy in crisis for more than 20 years, specialists say.
Reducing this massive expenditure by raising domestic food production remains a challenge for the government of President Raúl Castro. In fact, in the first quarter of this year, the National Office of Statistics and Information reported a 7.8 percent decrease in agricultural production other than sugar cane.
“There is a big demand that needs to be met, which is why we are able to sell everything we grow,” said Salcines, one of the founders of the cooperative, which now covers a total of 10.14 hectares and produces more than 230 different crop varieties (primarily garden vegetables, as well as some fruits, grains and tubers) in greenhouses and open fields.
In the midst of a generally inefficient agricultural sector, Vivero Alamar has achieved consistent growth for more than 15 years, thanks to the constant upgrading of its organic farming methods, which have even earned the praise of the director-general of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, who visited the cooperative earlier this month.
In 2012, they produced 400 tons of vegetables, 5.5 tons of medicinal and “spiritual” plants (used in religious rituals), 2.6 tons of dried herbs and spices, and 350 tons of worm manure.
They also produced 30,000 ornamental plant and fruit tree seedlings and three million vegetable seedlings, some for their own planting needs, others for sale to other farmers, reported Salcines.
Fresh vegetables, especially lettuce, are the products most sought after by the local residents in Alamar, who have begun to learn in recent years – like people in the rest of the country – about the benefits of including more greens in the traditional Cuban diet of rice, beans, “viandas” (starchy tubers and plantain) and pork.
“The first time we planted cauliflower, in 2000, it all got left in the fields, because nobody knew what it was,” plant health engineer Norma Romero told Tierramérica. In her view, one of the most important contributions made by the more than 33,000 urban and suburban farms in Cuba has been the expansion of access to and consumption of vegetables.
Thanks to a new initiative at Vivero Alamar, recipes for the preparation of different vegetables and mushrooms accompany the lists of products available at the cooperative’s sales outlet, as part of its business and educational strategy. The shelves also stock pickled vegetables, fruit preserves and garlic paste, produced through its own small industry sideline.
Although organic produce can be prohibitively costly in other countries, the organic fruits and vegetables sold by Vivero Alamar are actually priced lower than those produced with agrochemicals and sold in private farmers markets, where the prices are set in accordance with supply and demand.
“The affordable prices are the biggest attraction. A head of lettuce costs four Cuban pesos (five cents of a dollar) here, and everywhere else they charge 10 pesos,” regular customer Sonia Ricardo told Tierramérica. “The vegetables here are fresh, they have no pesticides, and the service is really fast,” she added.
Despite these low prices, the cooperative is able to earn good profits, production chief Gonzálo González assured Tierramérica. Eighty-five percent of its products are sold directly to the population, and the rest go to restaurants like La Bodeguita del Medio, a major tourist attraction in Havana.
Since it first started out with just five people, Vivero Alamar has progressively moved towards a closed-loop farming system that reduces waste and environmental damage.
“We try to buy as few inputs from outside as possible,” explained González, which is what led to “the idea of producing our own manure and various bio-pesticides and fertilisers.”
Vivero Alamar raises bulls to obtain manure, has set up “worm bins” to produce earthworm castings, another organic fertiliser, and breeds mycorrhizal fungi (which attach themselves to the roots of plants and promote their growth) as well as insects and microorganisms that can boost crop yields naturally. The cooperative has also established links with 17 scientific centres for the incorporation of new organic farming techniques and products.
Today, the 195 people who work here are striving to raise production by 40 percent to reach the farm’s full potential output, and have also expanded into raising rabbits and sheep, in order to include meat in its sales to the public and improve protein consumption among the neighbouring population, some 30,000 people.
The staff is made up of 175 cooperative members and 20 employees, and boasts a high overall level of education, with 92 university graduates and 42 technical college graduates. Women currently account for only 46 of the 195 workers.
“A farm can do much more than produce food,” commented Salcines, as he watched a group of foreign tourists who had booked a guided tour and organic lunch at Vivero Alamar.
* This story was originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network.
Indigenous Brazilians Learn to Fight for the Right to Food
Indigenous students learning to operate equipment at a communications workshop. Credit: Courtesy of PCSAN/Daniela Silva
Indigenous communities in remote areas of Brazil have begun to recognise that they have the right to not be hungry, and are learning that food security means much more than simply having food on the table.
Rosiléia Cruz, 19, dreams of studying journalism. She chooses her words carefully during her interview with Tierramérica* by mobile phone from Tabatinga, in northwest Brazil, which can only be reached by plane or river travel.
Cruz is a member of the Ticuna indigenous ethnic group, one of the most numerous in the country. The Ticuna live in the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, in the Alto Solimões region around the river of the same name, near the borders of Peru and Colombia.
The lands of their ancestors were invaded for decades by “seringueiros” (rubber tappers), fishermen and loggers, who left poverty and destruction in their wake.
Up until three years ago, young people like Cruz had few prospects, and many sought relief in alcohol and even suicide.
But in January 2010, the Joint Programme on Food and Nutrition Security for Indigenous Women and Children opened a window of hope, with activities aimed at creating agricultural and other nutritional solutions, but with particular emphasis on training and awareness raising.
Cruz forms part of a group of 50 young people from Ticuna and Kokama indigenous communities participating in communications workshops held in local schools. At the Umariaçu II community school in Tabatinga, she learned how to conduct interviews, take photographs, and produce daily news billboards and radio programmes.
She was thrilled by the opportunity to handle a microphone or camera in order to question the village chief about community problems, explain the importance of breastfeeding to mothers-to-be, or inform children about healthy habits, soft drinks, processed foods and the fruits of the region.
“There are a lot of young people that we can rescue from alcoholism,” she said. “We just prepared a news report on ‘Indian Day’ (a Brazilian holiday celebrated every Apr. 19) and I’m going to participate in Indigenous Babies Week.”
The aim of the workshops is to motivate young people to promote and defend their rights. An agreement with a local television station made it possible for the youngsters to be trained in the use of the equipment donated by the joint programme. The radio station in Tabatinga provided them with space in its Saturday programming schedule so that they could broadcast their own radio show.
The group also uses loudspeakers mounted on posts in their villages to get their message across. The daily news billboards are displayed on the walls of medical clinics and schools, and internet workshops have provided them with the skills to run their own website, which will be launched on May 21.
Once all the workshops are completed, the participants will share what they have learned with other students. Partnerships with local governments, universities and indigenous organisations will ensure continuity, and the internet will serve as a platform to disseminate the results, expand communication and inspire other young people.
These experiences form part of a wider project to help Ticuna and Kokama communities to organise in order to demand health care, education and economic and political participation.
The joint programme is an initiative of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) Achievement Fund, set up with a financial contribution from the government of Spain and administered by various United Nations agencies, including the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), in partnership with the Brazilian government.
Now in the stage of collecting data and evaluating results, since it will conclude in June, the programme focused on the municipalities of Tabatinga, Benjamin Constant and São Paulo de Olivença in the northwestern state of Amazonas, and the municipality of Dourados in the southwestern state of Mato Grosso do Sul, which are home to a combined total of 53,000 indigenous people.
These areas were chosen because of their high rates of malnutrition, substance abuse and violence, as well as their remote and difficult-to-reach locations. It is hoped that the positive results expected can be extended to other regions of the country, Fernando Moretti, the national coordinator of the joint programme, told Tierramérica.
In the three and half years since the programme was launched, International Labour Organization (ILO) Convention 169 on indigenous and tribal peoples has been translated into the Guaraní, Terena and Ticuna languages. Brazil ratified the convention in 2002, but its implementation remains a challenge.
Another concrete outcome was the publication of a book that shares the perceptions of 25 children and adolescents in villages in Mato Grosso do Sol and neighbouring Paraguay on food and nutrition security. The book, which includes photographs, letters and artworks, will be distributed in a Portuguese-Guaraní bilingual edition to schools, libraries and cultural centres.
“When we talk about food security, it is not simply a matter of food production, but also of training in health and self-esteem,” said Moretti.
The activities are aimed at motivating people to use the region’s biological and agricultural diversity sustainably.
Communities were provided with rural technical assistance and guidance for the establishment of agro-forestry systems, which combine farming with sustainable use and recovery of local forests, and of school gardens. In Dourados, indigenous farmers reintroduced yerba mate – used to prepare a hot beverage widely consumed in southern Brazil and neighbouring countries – and other native plant species with significant commercial potential.
In the village of Panambizinho, two plant nurseries were constructed, and the local residents learned how to make eco-friendly stoves that use less firewood, thus preserving the forest, and reduce harmful smoke emissions.
There were also discussions of concepts and practices related to healthy eating and disease prevention. Awareness raising and the creation of opportunities allowed the project to grow naturally, said Moretti.
Some families created gardens in their homes. Indigenous community members were trained to measure and weigh babies and children in order to provide data on these populations to the Food and Nutrition Security System.
In Alto Solimões, the ILO is supporting an association of craftspeople with a market study to help their products reach buyers.
For Moretti, what was most important was strengthening institutions and expanding interaction with the indigenous population. From now on, there will be two indigenous representatives on the National Council for Food and Nutrition Security, the agency responsible for implementation of the Zero Hunger policy launched by the Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva administration (2003-2011). Indigenous community members are also organising to participate in municipal councils.
In Dourados, the National Indigenous Fund and UNICEF organised a colloquium in order to create a network for the protection of indigenous children and adolescents and to define the measures to be adopted in cases of abuse, abandonment and alcoholism. A similar event will be held with communities in Alto Solimões on Jun. 17-19.
An ethnic mapping exercise was also conducted, which included the identification of what is produced in each region. “These are tools that the indigenous people themselves will be able to use,” stressed Moretti.
* This story was originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network.
Caribbean Farming Gets Its Roots Wet
CFBC Professor Dr. Leighton Naraine in the plant research facility at the college. Credit: Desmond Brown/IPS
As Caribbean communities grapple with the entwined challenges of climate change and food security, modern technologies offer hope that the region’s stagnating agricultural sector can be made more profitable.
For the past six years, the University of Central Florida (UCF) has teamed up with the St. Kitts-based Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College (CFBC) to implement a climate change education project for sustainable development in the region.
The institutions are reporting “tremendous success” using hydroponics, organoponics and hybrid-ponics, techniques that they insist are far more cost-effective.
“Climate change affects us all and one of the areas that we are most vulnerable is in the field of food security, namely agriculture. So my task as part of this team was to develop models to test various scenarios to see which one would be the most significant,” Stuart La Place, a lecturer at CFBC told IPS.
“Strawberries don’t usually grow in these climates but we have managed to grow them successfully and we are still growing them at the moment,” he said.
Hydroponics is a technique used to grow plants without soil, instead using mineral nutrient solutions in water.
The organoponics technique involves using a single layer of soil, sand, manure and potting soil for planting vegetables. La Place noted “this is being implemented in St. Kitts on a large scale at the moment.”
Hybridponics, he explained, “is a scenario we created at the college that lends itself to starting the initial growing techniques in hydro and then transplanting into the organo beds and we have had significant results.”
Former CFBC student Candace Richards agrees these methods are more cost-effective and profitable than traditional agriculture.
Noting that for a 20 by 20-foot plot, the hydroponic system costs 2,000 dollars to set up and the organoponics system 3,703 dollars, she said it’s “a worthy investment” since the estimated annual profits are in the region of 66,660 dollars after all costs are deducted. In comparison, a plot of the same size devoted to traditional agriculture produces approximately 740 dollars per month profit.
“This is better than traditional agriculture that requires more land space, is more labour intensive and presents challenges that can yield fewer crops,” Richards told IPS, pointing to the added advantage of having crops all year round rather than on a seasonal basis under traditional agriculture.
Using the organoponics method, it takes 45 days to get lettuce from seed to maturity, using 9.1 gallons of water; while with hydroponics, from a seed the lettuce takes 25 days to mature and uses significantly less water because it’s in a circulation system. The water keeps moving around and the only way out of that system is through the plant.
Growing lettuce the traditional way – planting in the ground – the growth cycle from a seed to maturity is 55 days and uses 11.3 gallons of water for a single plant from a dripper that delivers 50 milliletres per minute.
Each summer a group of UCF students visit St. Kitts and Nevis through the President’s Scholars programme at UCF to work with students at faculty at CFBC.
Charlene Kormondy was among 11 UCF students who travelled to St. Kitts and Nevis in 2012 under the programme.
“I was part of the agro technology team and our product was to build a shade house now known as the CFBC plant research facility,” she told IPS.
“When we got to St. Kitts we worked alongside students from St. Kitts and Nevis, CFBC professors and members of the local community to construct the shade house.
“It’s an example of action learning, implanting something that is a solution to a problem in the community and also generating knowledge about how to build these shade house systems and how to make agriculture more sustainable in the face of climate change, which you know could have temperature and precipitation impacts which could adversely affect crop production,” she said.
Now that the facility is up and running, Kormondy said it provides many tangible benefits to the community, including health benefits because the plants and vegetables grown there are substitutes for less healthy foods.
She said it can also lead to greater independence from foreign imports, and even gender equality.
“Women and children are the ones who are most vulnerable to climate-related disasters and socio-economic impacts, and this kind of agricultural system allows women to participate in agriculture but also have enough energy to devote to their role as primary caregivers and that’s because the growth of these plants are more efficient,” Kormondy said.
Another UCF student, Jessica Gottsleben, noted that a rise in tourism has led the economy and lucrative jobs to be less focused on agriculture, and food imports now exceed exports by a factor of four to one.
“Food supply is vulnerable from these climate-related disruptions,” she noted, adding that in future years the programme will seek to create local leaders from the youth being brought into the agricultural and business communities to increase self-sufficiency and resilience.
“The partnership has the potential to create jobs in existing sectors of agriculture and also create innovation in fostering jobs in areas such as agro tourism, agro processing, marketing, collecting evidence-based social data,” Gottsleben told IPS.
Sixteen CFBC students are currently registered in the programme and are trained in building the hydroponic system.
But UCF Professor Dr. Kevin Meehan said they are getting the wider community involved through what’s known as ‘The Take Five Programme’ that was implemented in February last year.
“We used a publicity campaign in print and electronic media to invite the general public as well as CFBC faculty to come to the campus to bring five containers (hence the name take five) and we would drill drainage holes in the containers, fill them with nutrient rich potting soil and then put in seedlings and then they would take those home to cultivate those buckets.”
Some 52 participants showed up over the course of three days at the CFBC campus.
“A second round of ‘Take Five’ was driven by the students and they adapted it as an outreach competition to the primary schools throughout the Federation,” Meehan said.
With funding from the Organisation of American States under the Special Multilateral Fund of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development, Dr. Meehan said they are now getting ready to implement the programme in Barbados, Trinidad, Guyana and at two separate locations in Haiti.
The UCF and CFBC representatives participated in a two-day UNESCO Sub-Regional Meeting on the environment and climate in Nevis on May 15 and 16.
It was organised by UNESCO in collaboration with the St. Kitts and Nevis National Commission on UNESCO and the Nevis Island Administration to support national adaptation policies to climate change in the Small Island Developing States of the Caribbean.