July 27, 2011
The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) is implementing the Watershed Area Management Mechanism (WAMM), in Black River, St. Elizabeth as part of the first phase of an islandwide roll-out. It was developed under the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) funded project, “Integrating Watershed and Coastal Areas Management (GEF - IWCAM)”, which was undertaken by NEPA in Drivers River, Portland during fiscal year 2009-10.
The main aim of the WAMM is to provide watershed stakeholders, government agencies, NGOs, funding agencies and ordinary citizens with a simple, practical and flexible method of achieving sustainable watershed management. NEPA selected the Black River Watershed Management Unit to be the first site for the implementation of the WAMM.
Five components of the WAMM have so far been undertaken in St. Elizabeth. They include:
Despite a slower implementation rate than in Drivers River, NEPA has made significant strides with the implementation of the Model in Black River. Stakeholders in the watershed have now been exposed to a number of socio-environmental issues. A Knowledge Attitude and Practices study (KAP) has also been conducted in collaboration with the Social Development Commission (SDC) in eighteen communities in the Black River Watershed. The Final Report is to be completed soon.
Two main challenges have been identified by the Model. These are: lack of an appropriate framework within which public bodies can collaborate with each other to achieve an integrated approach; as well as the need to focus on attitudinal and behavioural change of community members - individually and collectively.
The strength of the WAMM lies in identifying challenges which can be mitigated through state agencies and communities “pooling” their resources to bring about needed rehabilitation of watersheds. This will support the social and economic livelihoods of the communities and sustainable management of the environment.