Castries, Saint Lucia. 16 October 2023. Access to food and water are fundamental human rights1. Water in its finite nature is the driving force for people, economies, nature and the foundation of our food. Agriculture accounts for a significant proportion of total freshwater withdrawal, and water availability is inextricably linked to food production and food security in the Caribbean region.
World Food Day, observed annually on October 16th, aims to promote global awareness of hunger and promote action for the future of food, people and the planet. The theme for 2023 “Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind,” highlights the collective responsibility to sustain and protect the quality and quantity of water resources, to ensure the region’s food security and support livelihoods.
Water security has become increasingly important and is recognized as one of the top security concerns facing the global community2. The effects of climate change such as rising sea levels, temperature increases and changes in precipitation, and land-based sources of marine pollution further threaten the sustainable use of the resource and increase the risk of water stress2.
Caribbean Small Developing States are among the most susceptible countries to the effects of climate change. Coupled with the growing demand on water supplies due to regional development, urbanisation, and heavily reliant sectors such as tourism, agriculture and industry, the need for identification and prioritization of alternative freshwater sources including but not limited to rainwater harvesting and wastewater reuse have become more critical than ever.
CARPHA remains committed to aiding its Member States in promoting food safety and preventing the incidence of foodborne diseases among local communities and visitors through the provision of the advanced food safety and certification train the trainer course for health and hospitality sectors. This initiative builds on countries’ capacities and competencies in advanced food safety, illness causation and prevention, outbreak investigation, and environmental sanitation.
The Global Environmental Fund Integrating Water, Land and Ecosystems Management in Caribbean Small Island Developing States (GEF-IWEco) Project, co-executed by CARPHA and other regional and international partners, builds upon the work previously done in-country to address water, land and biodiversity resource management and climate change in ten Caribbean countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Grenada, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago.
It is imperative that water resources are used and managed more mindfully, to mitigate and control non-revenue water, over-extraction, and pollution of these valuable resources. Caribbean governments are urged to safeguard existing water sources by strengthening and exploring innovative alternatives and best practices, adopting climate resilient interventions, and revamping national legislations and policies.
On World Food Day 2023, we are reminded of the crucial role that water plays in how we eat, grow, and live. Through cross-sectoral and whole-of-society action, the Caribbean can join the global commitment in ensuring more equitable water access and implement more integrated solutions to effectively use and conserve our precious Caribbean water resources.