Over three thousand students from 21 different schools across the island will benefit from the Tap School Project to be undertaken by the state-controlled National Water and Sewerage Authority’s (NAWASA) through the construction of water tanks on their compounds.
After two years of planning, NAWASA’s Tap Close School Open Community Project was finally launched on Monday at the company’s boardroom on the Carenage in the presence of school principals and officials of the utility.
In addressing the gathering, member of the governing board, Christopher De Allie said that the initiative was very important as it is linked to the investment in the education of the country’s youth.
“As a board, we remain committed to the development of our tri-island state and recognise that our future lies in the hands of our youth…we’re sure that (what) we’re doing is going to help the young people in the various schools that we are instituting this project in”, he said.
“I have been advised that it is about 21 schools that will (be) benefitting from this …. And it’s not only secondary, it also primary as well and … NaDMA has already highlighted and put some of our schools on the list as centres in case we have a disaster and what (we) have found during our research is that some of these schools don’t have adequate water supply in the event that we have to shut down our supply in cases of emergency”, he added.
Chief Education Officer, Elvis Morain who was in attendance at the launch pointed out that the Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development recognises the importance of having a constant flow of water during school hours.
Morain expressed the ministry’s appreciation to NAWASA for the project and welcomed it in light of water shortages faced by the schools even during the prolonged dry season and in times of heavy rainfall.
“…When we have heavy rains…you are basically placed in a predicament. Sometimes it is very difficult to say to a school well you have to close prematurely because you have a shortage of water and I see the Principals here and they would understand that too well.
“Sometimes they don’t want to do it but they have to in the case of health and of course having an environment that is conducive for students to learn but you must also appreciate that the Ministry of Education has to do with shelter management and we’re about to begin our inspection of shelters of 2018 and there is one recurring issue every year, when the report comes back, lack of storage facility in case of a disaster.
“So, you would understand why we are so excited and pleased to be part of this endeavour. You would understand that we have close to a hundred schools but here today we’re talking about 21 schools and we ought to be grateful.
Morain exhorted the various principals to cherish the tanks from NAWASA.
“The only way we can show appreciation to NAWASA for this initiative is for us to take care of what is installed and to understand that we need to conserve water. We can have all the tanks installed as we may like but if we continue to mismanage water, we would still be faced with a shortage even in an average prolonged period. So, I want to say to you, you have a responsibility to exchange your appreciation by caring for this project”, he said.
The project was facilitated to the tune of EC$200,000.00 that was channeled through NAWASA by CDEMA.
Public Relations Officer (PRO) of NaDMA, Oslyn Crosby told the gathering that, “our schools are a critical element in all that we do within our district structure”.
“If we don’t have our schools and our community centres ready when we are impacted by a hazard then we must be ready because if our homes cannot accommodate us in that time then we have to have somewhere safe that we can call a haven to go to and if we don’t prepare that alternative then we would have another trouble to deal with.
“…This project is the start of something marvelous for us at NaDMA and of course we continue to look forward and as Mr. Morain would have said, we encourage our schools to take care of that facility.
“As parents, we know what an unplanned disruptive school day can be for us, it is not just our children that are sent home early but our day is turned into turmoil…it will make us very unproductive.”
General Manager of NAWASA, Christopher Husbands spoke about the authority’s experiences during a drought and called for the water tanks to be treated with care.
“During periods of excessive rainfall or drought NAWASA faces difficulty in providing a continuous supply of water and as a result there are stoppages in supplies throughout the state for various reasons”, he said.
According to Husbands, NAWASA is aware that some schools have had to remain closed for up to four days due to water shortages at some times.
He said that the utility might attempt to provide some kind of relief to the affected schools but cannot do anything due to the lack of storage tanks on the compound.
“While we attempt to provide relief in circumstances like these using trucks, we’ve been limited in that many of the schools don’t even have a tank…so we can’t send a truck to even fill up the tank if there is no tank. In light of this, we designed this project aimed at ensuring there is a basic water storage facility.
NAWASA is expected to maintain the tanks to make sure they are always functioning and remain clean.
The project is expected to start on March 5 and run until April 27.