New Day Primary School in the Grants Pen community headed the 2020 phase of the National Water Commission (NWC) and Miya Jamaica Water Conservation School Tour, which is targeting approximately 1500 students from 20 schools in the Socially Challenged Areas (SCAs) of Kingston and St Andrew (KSA). Other scheduled stops in January include Franklyn Town Primary, Seaview Gardens Primary and August Town Primary, with approximately seven other schools from the SCAs scheduled to participate in the drive.
Launched in November 2019, with an introductory session at the Mountain View Primary School, the programme aims to change water consumption behavior among the youth, in light of the water crisis challenges faced in Kingston. Since its launch, Water Conservation Sessions were hosted at the Union Garden Infant, Golden Hill Primary, Mavisville Prep, Callaloo Mews Basic and Allman Town Primary Schools.
Principal of Golden Hill Basic School, Julene Boothe says "We really appreciate the NWC/Miya team for including us in their school programme; I am seeing now where students and even teachers are more conscious about water conservation and have been taking their water bottles [gifted by NWC/Miya] to school every day - and refilling them with water during the days”.
The School Programme forms part of the wide range of ongoing activities under the Non- Revenue Water (NRW) Reduction Co-Management Programme being implemented by the NWC in collaboration with international water efficiency co-management partner, Miya Jamaica.
Country Manager for Miya Jamaica, Alvaro Ramalho says, "A key aspect of the KSA NRW reduction program is the Metering Project. After the implementation of the individual meters in each one of the SCAs, it is necessary to nurture a line of communication with the communities to further conduct leak detection on customer properties and provide support on the correct usage of water. We initiated the first rung of communication through community meetings, which saw regular participation from the respective MPs and relevant representatives, in each one of the 60 identified SCAs in KSA”.
"To strengthen the relationship between the NWC and its customers in the SCAs, the NWC/Miya co-management team decided to continue the dialogue within these communities [SCAs] through the execution of an educational program”.
He explained that the school arm of the KSA NRW initiative is geared towards the sensitization of students, teachers and (where possible) parents, on the importance of water conservation and the challenges of water scarcity ensuing from the current climate changes and global warming; and providing how-to tips and advice for everyday responsible usage of the commodity in their homes and schools.
The program takes the form of a 15 to 20-minutes session, where students engage in a short lecture session with Ramalho and his team. Talks are followed by a brainstorming session, presentation of an interactive animation movie on water conservation, and at the end students are presented with water bottles and informative NWC/Miya brochures to help engender change. These brochures hold all the relevant water conservation tips that can be introduced immediately in every household.
Principal of Callaloo Mews Basic School Violet Black says, "Mr. Ramalho was excellent with the kids, they were very receptive and participated in the presentations; I believe the visit of NWC and Miya to our school was effective and beneficial both to students and staff.”
On a similar note, Principal of Mavisville Prep School, Leroy Smith, says he appreciates the team’s visit to their school. He noted that he wants to augment the message of water conservation by coordinating a follow-up system to ensure that the students are constantly reminded of the importance of conserving water.
The co-management team anticipates that the programme will cause subtle yet impactful behaviour changes in students.
Following her presentation at Mavisville Prep School, Miya NRW Management Specialist, Katherine Paleracio, recalls one student’s recognition of the need for a changed behaviour. She says the student admitted having a usual habit of brushing her teeth while the tap was left running, but now promises to use a glass of water whenever she brushes her teeth. Paleracio says similar feedback from students were echoed across other schools.
Kingston and St. Andrew, specifically in the SCAs like Mountain View, Franklyn Town and Grants Pen undergo high levels of water loss each day. The NWC records this as non- revenue water, primarily stemming from water smuggling, leaks and irresponsible usage of the utility.
NRW limits KSA’s resilience to droughts; causes significant commercial loss to the NWC; and impacts NWC’s ability to provide consistent and quality service delivery to its customers.