A total of 40 sites in Saint Kitts and Nevis are being evaluated for potential water harvesting and drainage.
The project, which had gone underway one month ago, is jointly organised by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and FAO’s Investment Centre, together with the Governments of Mexico and Saint Kitts and Nevis. It is part of the ‘Addressing the Water-Energy Nexus in Agriculture’ sub-project of the Mexico-CARICOM-FAO Initiative “Cooperation for Climate Change Adaptation and Resilience in the Caribbean” or Resilient Caribbean Initiative.
Recognising that Saint Kitts and Nevis, like most other Caribbean nations, has a small land mass with limited catchment basins, the FAO notes this creates “limitations in the replenishment of fresh water resources.” As a result, limited surface water throughout the year creates high dependence on ground water that requires fossil fuel energy to extract.
“The pressure on available natural resources is likely to increase in the near future due in large part to the intensifying impacts of climate change, which is causing a rise in sea levels, decreased fresh water quality due to intense storms and more frequent and severe droughts,” the FAO warns in a press release.
The project includes assessments by the Physical Planning Department GIS Lab to determine if the pre-selected sites would be suitable as rain water reservoirs for irrigation, livestock and other activities. Farmers are encouraged to embrace technological innovations, such as small solar-powered irrigation systems to improve water efficiency and management; and access clean and renewable energy, such as solar and wind, to increase productivity and use water more efficiently.
“These water harvesting and intake sites are within the most vital areas for food production, which are of critical importance to us as our current production system is over 80% depended on rain-fed conditions. The rain water harvesting and water intake sources would improve the availability of food over a greater period, ensuring access to water during the drier season of production through improved storage facilities and efficient irrigation systems,” stated Ian Chapman, head of crops division in the Ministry of Agriculture.
FAO’s Investment Centre engaged the International Centre for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT)/Alliance Bioversity International in developing a web-based tool to identify potential rain water harvesting sites for irrigation purposes on several Caribbean islands, including Saint Kitts and Nevis
The validation of potential rain water harvesting sites is expected to be completed this month.
“Following field validation in participating countries, CIAT will finalize the development of the web-based-tool and conduct training for national Ministry and other institutional staff in the use of the tool for planning of rain water reservoirs and the eventual distribution of water to the farms,” the FAO noted.