KINGSTON, Jamaica— The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) says it has completed the socio-economic study of the Yallahs and Hope watersheds. The project is one of the components of the soon-to-be-concluded Integrated Management of the Yallahs and Hope River Watershed Management Areas (Yallahs-Hope) Project.
“What the project sought to do and what it hopes to continue, post implementation, is to have a data-driven approach to management of the watersheds. As we move towards the end of this project, we would have drafted a sustainability plan and provided it to all of our partners,” Interim Project Manager for the Yallahs-Hope Project, André Reid, told JIS News.
“The idea is that we are going to look at the Yallahs-Hope Project in its truest sense, as a pilot, and we are going to take the lessons learned under the Yallahs-Hope Project and try to integrate that into our daily operations,” he added.
Reid was speaking at a JIS Think Tank on October 29, where the executing agency, the National Environment and Planning Agency, shared the results of the socio-economic study of the Yallahs and Hope Watersheds and announced plans to continue activities after the end of the project.
“This resource provides 40 per cent of the water within the Kingston and St Andrew area and although having such a crucial role to play within our water supply system, we find where these two watersheds, namely the Yallahs Watershed and the Hope Watershed, are among the two most degraded watersheds on our island today,” he said.
“If you were to replicate our project using the same data-driven approach, looking at the areas of concern, formulating communications strategies that target that area and not just formulating a strategy for a broader watershed, you will see higher rates of change and you will see greater benefits coming back to the Kingston and St Andrew area,” Reid added.
Lead researcher on the socio-economic study, Ayesha Constable, of the University of the West Indies, said residents of the selected communities were utilised in the data collection and benefited from the training received.
“We had a one-day training where they came to us and we walked them through the instrument that would be used to collect the data, gave them the instrument (a tablet) to collect the data using a software called Kobo Toolbox. In a big way, this was a meaningful part of the exercise because it was capacity building at its best. It was giving them a transferable skill-set and they, too, walked away feeling empowered from that experience, and walked away recognising that they had a lot of work to do,” Constable said.
A random sample of communities was selected from the management areas of Mammee River, Jew River, Fall River, Negro River, Green River, and Upper Yallahs. The study sought to uncover the socio-demographic and livelihood conditions; ecosystems services and dependence; resilience; food security; and well-being of residents in the areas.
Constable said the findings from the communities show some areas for targeted intervention in future management activities for the watersheds.
“Overall, only 27 per cent of farmers were ranked as thriving and doing well and satisfied with the current situations, whereas 20 per cent were ranked as suffering, based on the variables. We found that women, in some instances, were more resilient than men, but in some communities men and women were on par,” she noted.
“In terms of food security, we found that 41 per cent of farmers were food secure, while 23 per cent are severely food insecure. I think that finding in particular, is something that we need to flag, in terms of planning interventions going forward in the watershed,” Constable said.
The project will come to an end this month (October) after receiving a one-year extension from funders. The project was funded by the Global Environmental Facility through the Inter-American Development Bank, with co-financing from the Government of Jamaica.
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