Focus: Water Resources
Location: Lititz, Jamaica
The community of Lititz can be found in the southeastern parish of St. Elizabeth, Jamaica. In this area, water is a scarce resource. Low levels of precipitation and frequent droughts have left residents exposed and vulnerable, as they depend on water for irrigating their crops and sustaining the lives of their families. The inability to harness water for agricultural and domestic purposes has resulted in farmers abandoning their farms or turning to the felling of trees for charcoal production to increase their income. Not only do these practices have negative impacts on the community, but they also affect the environment, resulting in socioeconomic problems, land degradation, and a higher probability of drought occurrence.
In 2012, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) helped Lititz address their water scarcity issues with the Small-Scale Irrigation System supported by Rainwater Harvesting project. It was designed to rehabilitate the existing rainwater harvesting system, as well as to provide the community with a drip irrigation system powered by solar power. In addition, training sessions and on-farm demonstrations in sustainable land management were held to increase awareness of land degradation and desertification issues as well as to reduce soil erosion and improve crop productivity and efficient water use.
Remarkably, the project’s impact was not only felt by the 14 farmers living in Lititz but also by approximately 300 farmers from the surrounding communities of Savannah, Gaze Land, Downes and Stephen’s Run, who benefited from the restoration of the rainwater harvesting tank. Once plagued by low rainfall and droughts, this area has now experienced an increase in annual rainfall, less soil erosion and deforestation, a greater yield in agricultural production and an increase in socioeconomic activities and status. As stressed by Joy Burke and Howard Simpson, two farmers in Lititz, “We don’t have water so we have to depend on rainfall. Water is life.”
Environmental Impact: Efficient water use, reduced soil erosion, and avoided deforestation
Credits: UNDP Jamaica
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