Message from the Executive Director by runout


                      The Newsletter of the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute
ISSN 1025-1883                                                                         Vol. 8 No. 2 2001

                    Message from the Executive Director
                                The Collective Approach
World Environment Day was commemorated on June 5, under the theme “Connect to the World
Wide Web of Life”. Such events provide us all with an opportunity to reflect on the progress we
have made in stimulating greater awareness of the environment and the dangers it faces and also
progress made in taking action to protect the environment.

This year’s celebration sought to give a human face to environmental issues. It sought to
empower, promote understanding of our roles, and advocate partnerships to ensure a safer and
more prosperous future.

The theme chosen for this year's activities, “Connect to the World Wide Web of Life” urged all
of us as individuals to cooperate and do what is desirable to improve our quality of life. In my
message for World Environment Day, I suggested that it might better be named "World Life
Day", as our environment determines our quality of life. I also suggested that until we recognise
this, we will not see the kinds of actions and behavior that are required in order to ensure the
sustained protection of the environment.

In order to “connect”, we must feel that strong sense of conviction about our home, the Earth.
We must feel that pain deep within our chests when we see someone toss garbage out of a
moving vehicle. We must feel motivated to confront someone who is wasting water; we must
feel sorrow and anger when beach-goers leave behind waste as a reminder of their Sunday

In order to “connect”, we must view the environment as not some nebulous “cause” that radical
“tree huggers” are fighting for. We must see the environment as a key requirement for life; a key
requirement for our continued existence. That is when we will really be connected!

Our efforts at CEHI to mainstream environmental issues are intended to support global events
such as World Environment Day. However among the challenges that we face are whether to
highlight day-to-day issues of immediate relevance (such as garbage) or international longer-
term issues like global warming. What should that balance be?

As part of a conference held during World Environment Day 2001, entitled "Information for
Action: Communication for Environment & Development", CEHI and its partners hosted
professional communicators including journalists, public relations personnel, public education
experts and policy-makers in discussing a more coordinated intervention in the area of
environment and developmental communications, aimed ultimately at changing behaviour (see
Article in this issue of CEHINews).

It came somewhat as a surprise that a number of journalists from across the region had little
knowledge of such issues as the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
(UNFCCC) and its Kyoto Protocol dealing with reductions in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions.
We perhaps need to examine the reasons why there was such a low level of awareness. Was it
that they felt the issue was not relevant or topical? Or was it simply that the media was

The role of institutes such as CEHI seems to be expanding to include making global issues
interesting to local readerships and showing the relevance of these issues. We are being
challenged to bridge the gap related to awareness of global issues and their impact on the
Caribbean public.

The efforts of CEHI are however not confined to World Environment Day. CEHI has been
researching issues which we feel are of relevance to the region, including policy makers, and
translating the findings into language that policy makers understand, be it financial or

It has been recognised that until the information generated through our laboratory, for instance, is
linked to the reality of everyday life and the political and economic decision-making processes,
the prospects for popular intervention will continue to be hindered.

We are also challenged to show how Caribbean stakeholders can be empowered to positively
impact on the environment. To address this challenge at the national level, CEHI is actively
promoting the idea of connecting communities in joint programmes of action on the
environment. In this regard, CEHI has teamed up with the Award-winning Providence Girl’s
Catholic School in Trinidad and the community of Carenage to promote issues such as water
conservation within communities and through the school system of Trinidad & Tobago (see
Article in this issue of CEHINews).

As much emphasis must be placed on individual responsibility as is placed on community action.
The enhancement of professional capabilities in Member States has guided CEHI's training
programmes as has the need to assist in the development of community-based solutions informed
its various public education/awareness projects.

A collective approach is certainly needed and CEHI cannot be expected to make a significant
impact on its own. This need to collaborate was stressed last April by hemispheric leaders
assembled for the Third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City.

Specifically stressed was the need to "consult and coordinate ... regionally, as appropriate, with
the aim of ensuring that economic, social and environmental policies are mutually supportive and
contribute to sustainable development, building on existing initiatives undertaken by relevant
regional ... organisations."

Bearing in mind the size and mandate of regional environmental organisations, and noting the
financial constraints faced by governments across the region as well as international donors, this
collective approach at all levels is vital.

Vincent Sweeney
Executive Director

                                   Guest Contributor
                              Mash the Trash by Joanne Hillhouse
                      Antigua National Solid Waste Management Authority

The National Solid Waste Management Authority (NSWMA) of Antigua and Barbuda has
continued in 2001 to build on efforts to sensitize the community on the importance of a clean and
healthy environment.

A high point of its education programme this year was a project called “Mash the Trash”
financed by Monarch of the Seas and executed by local conservationist non-governmental
organization the Environmental Awareness Group (EAG) and the NSWMA.

This project, targeting 12 fourth grade classes spread across the island, included school visits, the
provision of educational material for teachers, donation of drums to be painted by students, field
trips to the disposal site, a clean up competition, an awards ceremony and the production of two
anti-litter public service announcements.

The winning school, the St. Andrew’s Junior School, embraced the project not only painting the
bins and pursuing a successful clean up but also sensitizing the school and surrounding
community by producing a song, posters, a banner, letters and assembly performances.

St. Andrew's later performed its song at the opening ceremony for the NSWMA first Waste
Management and Waste Diversion workshop targeting the public and private sectors. Held in
June, this workshop brought the waste situation in Antigua into perspective, and promoted
source reduction in the business environment.

The NSWMA’s first newsletter “Waste Stream” was released to coincide with this workshop,
which was only one part of its World Environment Day week of activities – which also included
a radio quiz, church service and clean up activities. The theme for the week was “Don’t Throw
It All Away,” which has been a major theme of the NSWMA education programme in recent

Just as source reduction was promoted at the workshop, the 3R’s - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle -
have been promoted throughout the course of NWSMA's educational programme and have led,
for instance, to a composting pilot project with the Antigua Girl Guides. That project is being
expanded this year to various units and communities on the island. There are also plans to begin
a Secondary schools composting project. Both projects will promote various composting

Since it began operations in 1999, the NSWMA has pursued a consistent programme designed to
awaken people to the solid waste problems in Antigua, why it is important to get involved and
how they could become a part of the project to turn things around.

Activities have included a survey to determine pre-existing attitudes and behaviour, a media
launch including the production of a video on the NSWMA, the production of various other
videos, a jingle and public service announcements to be aired via the media, regular columns,
press releases and other articles in the local papers, community meetings and work with
community groups, workshops – including teachers’ workshops, participation in clean ups,
production of promotional material such as brochures, T-shirts and pens and visits to schools.
Other promotional activities include media appearances, the production of an annual
calendar/poster, participation in events such as the National Science Fair, NSWMA's Solid
Waste Awareness Day, and the first ever National Clean-Up Day (14th and 15th July).

The NSWMA is also into the second year of its environmental award, a programme introduced
last year as part of the Antigua Hotels and Tourist Association’s annual awards ceremony. This
award seeks to recognize a hotel, which has demonstrated a strong level of environmental
leadership and stewardship. There are plans to expand this award to include the wider business
community. The Authority also operates a hotline through which it tries to stay in touch with
and respond to the needs of the public.

Among other things, there are plans for the development of a website, an extension of "Mash the
Trash" programme, continued collaborations with community and social groups, production of
additional Public Service Announcements (PSA’s) and promotional material, and the production
of an anti-litter colouring book in keeping with its efforts to focus on young people as a primary
target group.

           Information for Action: report of a conference
                    By Wesley Gibbings, Communications Consultant, CEHI

The Caribbean Environmental Health Institute teamed up with the United Nations System in the
Caribbean in June 2001 to convene a conference entitled: "Information for Action -
Communication for Environment and Development."

The event coincided with the observance of World Environment Day and the Institute launched
an exhibition at the conference displaying its work in the area of environment and environmental

The conference brought close to 60 professional communicators together in Port of Spain,
Trinidad between June 4 and 7 to address a range of perceived needs in the area of development
communication in the Caribbean.

CEHI had proposed that such an occasion had the potential to initiate action to address a number
of concerns including the need to deepen and widen the range of professional relationships to
facilitate the flow of sound information on environment and development.

It was also hoped that the conference would contribute to the process of improving the outputs of
our collaborators in the field of communications while ensuring that the myriad of information
flows in this field in the Region did not produce net results that were superfluous or at cross-

In opening the conference, CEHI's Executive Director, Mr. Vincent Sweeney, said that CEHI
had for years been involved in providing technical solutions to problems related to
environmental health improvement.

"We have recommended where a sanitary landfill should go; how it should be built and
managed; how wastewater should be treated; what standards our recreational water quality
should meet," he said. He however surmised that "these technical responses, although valid and
necessary, on their own can never solve the problems which we face in the Region related to
environmental management. Unless we have a massive constituency behind us and broad
participation in environmental management, the technical solutions will only amount to 'spinning
top in mud'."

Mr Sweeney added that the challenge was to "get that constituency behind us." "That," he said,
"is one of the most vexing questions and one which we have sought to answer for years."

The conference devoted much time to answering such a question. Senior officials of the UN
system in the Caribbean teamed up with professional communicators and environmental
technicians to fashion a blueprint for the future.

Present for the occasion was the Head of the News and Media Division of the United Nations,
Mr Salim Lone, who explored the issue of "How Information Empowers People". Mr. Lone also
addressed the Opening Ceremony urging communicators to be constantly aware of the
development needs of the societies and communities in which they operate.

Also speaking at the Ceremony were Trinidad and Tobago's Minister of Communications and
Information Technology, Hon. Ralph Maraj and United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) Resident Representative for Trinidad and Tobago and Suriname, Mr Hans Geiser.
Former CEHI Executive Director, Dr Naresh Singh joined with developmental consultant, Mr.
Cletus Springer and Mr. Hutton Archer of World Bank's Global Environment Facility, as part of
a panel moderated by Mr. Sweeney to discuss "Development and Environment Policy in the

CEHI's Information Services Director, Mr. Herold Gopaul led discussions on "Environmental
Reporting and Transparency" while, that very day, Ms. Roma Wong Sang of the International
Labour Organisation. Ms. Gina Sanguinetti of the National Environmental Education Committee
of Jamaica and Ms. Mabel Sanabria of the Caribbean Alliance for Sustainable Tourism discussed
how they approached the selling of their organization's messages.

Other contributions came from agencies such as the Pan American Health Organisation, United
Nations Drug Control Programme, the Environmental Management Authority of Trinidad and
Tobago, the Caribbean Epidemiology Centre and UNAIDS.

Trinidadian marketing consultant, Mr. Keith Dalip discussed technical approaches to measuring
the success of public awareness programmes and participants had the opportunity to discuss the
strengths and weaknesses of their own methods.

Bahamas-based journalist, Ms. Deby Nash revealed the findings of a survey she had conducted
on the coverage of environmental issues while Mr. Jan Voordouw of the PANOS Institute in
Haiti spoke of different approaches to media coverage of the environment.

Two case studies in the area of public awareness and education in solid waste management were
examined. They were presented by Mr Warrington Chapman, Education Officer of the St
Christopher and Nevis Solid Waste Management Company and Ms. Carlene Jules of the St Lucia
Solid Waste Management Authority.            Following these presentations, communications
professionals in the area of solid waste management met to formulate a programme for the
continued collaboration in the area of public education and awareness. A draft proposal on the
development of joint approaches to some aspects of their work was also discussed.

Most of the senior media practitioners who attended the conference were also executive
members of their respective national media workers' organisations and, on day three, they were
invited by the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago to further discussions on the
establishment of an Association of Caribbean Media Workers. A Steering Committee was
established and work is proceeding on the formation of this new grouping.

On the last day of the conference, Ms. Elizabeth Solomon of the United Nations Information
Centre for the Caribbean Area; Mr. Louis Daniel, Deputy Programme Manager in the
Communications Unit of the CARICOM Secretariat and Mr. Wayne Modeste, President of the
Grenada Media Workers Association reviewed some of the communication tools including video
documentaries, posters and publications displayed at the conference.

An "Information for Action" e-group was established and is being moderated by Mr. Terry Ally,
a media personnel based in Barbados.

                                     Quick Picks
   CREP: Strengthening Regional Cooperation

Implementation of the Caribbean Regional Environment Programme (CREP) funded by the
European Union for CARIFORUM to the value of ECU 9,144,400 has begun.

The Caribbean Conservation Association (CCA) is the implementing agency. The first meeting
of the Joint Executive Committee (JEC) took place in Barbados in June to review and approve
the work plan.

The CREP has been in the making for the last seven years, long overdue some might say, but
coming none too soon in terms of addressing some major environmental concerns in the Region.
The primary objective of the CREP is to strengthen regional cooperation and to build capacity in
conservation management and sustainable use of “Amenity Areas” in the Caribbean.

The programme will also focus on public awareness and education and information networks. A
Programme Management Unit has been established and is housed at the CCA's Headquarters.
The Project Manager is Mr. Cathal Healey-Singh.

The terms of reference of the JEC include overseeing and validating the overall policy direction
of the CREP and reviewing and approving annual work plans and cost estimates. It comprises
the CCA, CEHI, CANARI, CARIFORUM, the EU, Barbados, Belize, Dominica and Guyana and
the Programme Manager, acting as Secretary to the JEC.

During the first year of the CREP, which is the preparatory phase, a consultation process will
take place to assess regional needs in relation to the Programme, at the end of which regional and
national organizations to be involved in implementation will be identified.

During this phase, mechanisms, projects and demonstration sites will also be determined. It will
run over a period of four years.

   OECS Moves on Environmental Sustainability

On April 10, the Ministers of the Environment Policy Committee of the Organization of Eastern
Caribbean States (OECS) signed the St. George’s Declaration of Principles for Environmental
Sustainability in the OECS.

This document represents the commitment of OECS States to take the necessary actions to
achieve the goal of sustainable development: achieve development goals in ways that ensure
healthy environment for present and future generations.

This declaration speaks of principles that provide a framework through which all the
environmental documents signed in the past for OECS countries can be implemented by
Members States.

Complementing this document, the OECS Environmental Management Strategy, also under
development, will identify the specific types of actions that are necessary to implement the
Declaration and the results to be achieved with these actions including national capacity to
achieve compliance with and enforcement of environmental laws.

    Watersheds and Coastal Areas Project: The State of Play
                        By Patricia Aqunig, Programme Director, CEHI

Those of you who have been following the progress of the Global Environment Facility (GEF)
funded-project on Integrating Management of Watersheds and Coastal Areas in Caribbean Small
Island States would realize that it has been a little over a year since we embarked on project
preparation or, in the language of the GEF, the Project Development Fund (PDF) phase. CEHI
and United Nations Environment Programme-Caribbean Regional Co-ordinating Unit (UNEP
CAR/RCU) are co-executing agencies.

The Inception Workshop was held in March 2000 in Jamaica at which time all the target
countries, implementing and executing agencies as well as key partners, met to chart the way
forward in project development.

Since then, the countries embarked on the preparation of National Reports which are meant to
capture the major issues and problems related to the theme of the project. All the target countries
received funding to prepare these reports and they were encouraged to do so through a national
consultative process involving key stakeholders.

In all instances, in-house, national and regional expertise was used. The National Reports are
meant to form the basis of a Regional Synthesis out of which a fully costed Project Brief would
be developed for submission to the GEF for funding.

In February of this year, the Second Regional Workshop was held to examine progress to date.
At that time the Draft National Reports and the Draft Regional Synthesis were reviewed with a
view to revising them so as to ensure that these documents truly captured the issues facing the

Draft National reports were critiqued and countries were required to prepare Final National
Reports. Two regional consultants, Mr. Cletus Springer and Mr. Raymond Reid have been
engaged by CEHI to work on the development of the Project Brief and to assist generally with
project development.

Both Mr. Springer and Mr. Reid have a wealth of experience and knowledge about sustainable
development and environment issues generally but specifically in relation to the Caribbean.

After the Second Regional Workshop, in June, the United Nations Development Programme
(UNDP) provided the expertise of a Project Specialist, Mr. David Vousden who has extensive
experience on project development for the GEF and has worked in the Caribbean.

Since the start of the PDF phase CEHI, as one of the two executing agencies, (UNEP CAR/RCU
being the other) has been providing the countries with information and technical advice on
project development. CEHI, using in-house staff, has also helped organize and/or participated in
national consultative fora.

At the start of this year, the Organization of American States (OAS) provided funding through a
complementary project on Freshwater Resources Management in Caribbean SIDS, the main
objective of which has been to support the development of the PDF phase.

The OAS also provided support in terms of staff time in the person of Ms. Sasha Gottlieb,
Specialist. Ms Gottlieb assisted in the preparation of the first Draft Regional Synthesis.

Partners, donor and technical assistance agencies such as Department for International
Development (DFID), the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), United States
Agency for International Development (USAID), and the German Agency for Technical
Cooperation (GTZ), just to name a few, have been kept apprised of the project. Similarly, we
have taken the opportunity at every forum to keep our key ministries, national and regional
agencies informed.

In June, a Project Working Group met in Trinidad to advance the project process. The Group
focused on the development of the project framework and to determine thematic areas for
demonstration projects. Seven programme objectives have been identified, namely:

                  Institutional Capacity Building (Regional and National)
                  Participation, Awareness and Education
                  Policy and Legislation
                  Harmonization with Socio-Economic Linkages
                  Development of Appropriate Sustainable Technologies and Market Practices
                  Environmental Assessment, Monitoring and Response
                  Mechanisms for Project and Programmatic Sustainability

Outputs have been identified for each of these objectives and work is still progressing with input
from the countries as to the specific activities and corresponding budgets. Countries have also
been asked to indicate their interest in demonstration projects.

The Final Regional Workshop was held in late August at which time the Draft Project Brief was
discussed and revised with all target countries and relevant agencies participating. The Project
will be presented to the GEF Council in October this year. Members of the Project Steering
Committee are CEHI, UNEP CAR/RCU, UNEP (Nairobi), OAS, CARICOM and the UNDP.

All indications are that this programme will be an exciting one for the Caribbean in terms of how
it proposes to address major issues of sustainable development and the environment, based on
the key concept of an integrated management approach. Apart from ensuring direct impact in
addressing the problems, emphasis will be placed on building regional and national capacity.

                                 Around the Region
Coastal Zone Management

 The Sea and River Defence Department of the Transport and Hydraulics Ministry of Guyana
  is working to protect Guyana’s coastline through mangrove restoration. The Environmental
  Protection Agency (EPA), the National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) and the Sea

    and River Defence Department are gathering relevant data and examining potential shore-
    zone management systems.

 Teachers from across the Caribbean met in June, to launch the "Caribbean Sea Sandwatch
  Project". This project falls under the Coast and Beach Stability in the Caribbean Project
  (COSALC). Students will investigate water quality, collect data on beach debris and record
  human activities at beaches in their respective countries. Findings will be presented to the
  local communities, so that the residents may become aware of the relevant issues and perhaps
  assist in beach management.

Environmental networks

   An Information Network for Science and Technology (INSAT), was launched in Guyana in
    January 2001. This network seeks to facilitate the acquisition, storage and dissemination of
    science and technology information. INSAT’s website is available at
    It includes a searchable database of records from organisations such as the Guyana
    Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Guyana Natural Resources Agency (GNRA)
    and Iwokrama International Centre (IIC). The documents outlined in the records can be
    obtained by contacting the relevant agencies.

Organic Farming

   Dominica plans to ship its first batch of organic produce (mangoes) to the United Kingdom
    in mid-2001. It is predicted that the organic produce will garner high returns for Dominican
    farmers, given the high prices and demand for organic produce in the United Kingdom. The
    cultivation and export of organic produce will thus benefit the Dominican economy, as well
    as, assist in protecting the country’s environment.

Climate Change

   Meteorological data managers from Caribbean countries met in Jamaica in January, 2001 at
    the University of the West Indies, Mona. They examined data pertaining to climate change,
    from the various Caribbean countries. Analysis of the data revealed that temperatures in the
    Caribbean have increased over the last fifty years. Participants agreed to analyse other data
    available at their respective agencies, with the intention of producing a collaborative paper on
    climate change in the Caribbean.

   A National Climate Change Adaptation Policy Workshop was held in St. Lucia in June 2001.
    Workshop attendees reviewed a draft Climate Change Policy document and participated in
    the development of a National Climate Change Adaptation Strategy. The policy document
    attempts to provide a guide for national action, incorporating the needs and concerns of all

The objectives of the Climate Change Policy are to guide the national process to:

   -   Avoid, minimise or adapt to the negative impacts of climate change on St. Lucia’s
       natural environment including ecosystems, species, genetic resources, ecological
       processes, land and water;

   -   Avoid, minimise or respond to the negative impacts of climate change on economic

   -   Reduce or avoid damage to human settlements and infrastructure caused by climate
   -   Avoid or minimise the negative impact of climate change on human health;
   -   Improve knowledge and understanding of climate change issues in order to obtain
       broad-based support for, and participation in climate change activities;
   -   Conduct systematic research and observation on climate change related factors. 

                        Enforcing Environmental Law
In April, CEHI lent its support to a Caribbean Judicial Symposium on Environmental Law and
Sustainable Development for judges and prosecutors from 17 English-speaking countries in the

The event was jointly sponsored by the International Network for Environmental Compliance
and Enforcement (INECE) partners.

The discussions focused on judicial issues affecting the enforcement and compliance of
environmental law including environmental issues related to sustainable development, trade,
civil liability, enforcement mechanisms, procedural law, judicial cooperation and the role of
different international organisations in enforcement and compliance of the environmental

The participants also had the opportunity to present and discuss the development, status and
application of environmental laws in their countries to share information and provide a basis for
future networking thus enabling more effective compliance with and enforcement of
environmental laws.

At the end of the Symposium, the Castries Resolution was adopted, in which the justices,
prosecutors and others attending the symposium, acting in their personal capacity, resolved to
pursue the objectives to promote their effective participation in the enforcement of the laws for
the protection and conservation of the environment.

Participants also resolved to encourage networking on these matters and make suggestions and
recommendations to their respective governments to consider the creation of environmental
courts, development of programmes for sustained environmental education for regulators, health
officers and investigators and broad-based social awareness about the importance of preserving
the environmental integrity and compliance with regulations for the public, parliamentary
councils, magistrates and others involved in securing compliance with and developing
environmental laws and institutions.

The Symposium was organized by Jamaica's Natural Resources Conservation Authority in
                                response to a need identified throughout the region for
                                increased environmental awareness on the part of judges
                                and prosecutors.

                                        It was supported by the Commonwealth Secretariat,
                                        UNEP regional office in Mexico City, the World Bank,
                                        Canadian International Development Agency, United
                                        States Agency for International Development and CEHI.

                                          This programme is part of an ongoing effort on the part of
these institutions to build capacity in this field. 

                             Community Participation
                Community Partnership: Towards Improved Livelihoods
                                by Reginald Burke

Access to clean water for domestic use is critical to the health and well-being of any community.
It is worrying therefore, when one hears about communities without easy access to a clean and
reliable pipe-borne supply of water.

Such is the case of the residents of the Scorpion Valley community located in the North-West
Trinidad district of Carenage.

There, close to 2,200 residents use the Scorpion River as a primary source of water for bathing,
washing and in many cases drinking, although some residents do utilize collected rainwater for
the latter.

The location of the dwelling houses along the edges of the relatively steep banks of the river and
the frequent usage of pit latrines and simple septic disposal systems indicate a potential source of
pollution for the river. A situation that would most likely be exacerbated especially during
periods of low rainfall such as would have occurred during the earlier part of this year.

Not only are there health concerns for the users of the river but concerns for the ecosystems
supported by the river and for the marine life that could be affected where the river flows into the

The plight of Scorpion Valley was brought to the attention of the CEHI through a water
conservation education project developed for the Scorpion Valley by the Providence Young
Leaders - a group comprising fourth form students of Providence Girls’ Catholic School in Port
of Spain.

Their education and awareness project consisted of a handbook on how to conserve water and
improve its quality; a children’s activity book; a calypso about water conservation; the
acquisition of a basic water testing kit and the training of community leaders to use the kit.

In launching this initiative with Providence Girls', CEHI Executive Director, Mr. Vincent
Sweeney said CEHI had "long recognised that sound environmental management and sustainable
development are interwoven and require multi-disciplinary and multi-sectoral approaches."

"We have recognised that for environmental management practices to be successful and
sustainable there is need for behavioural changes at all levels in the society and also participation
in and the ownership of the interventions by the many stakeholders," he said. Mr. Sweeney
added that it is not very often that a regional intergovernmental organization is approached by a
school to partner them on a project.

"We have had numerous requests from schools, where we have provided answers or other
information. But this is not truly a partnership," he said. "Our efforts today at partnership

building, we hope will be the start of a whole series of initiatives involving non-traditional
partners, such as schools. We are excited about the possibilities."

Three officers from CEHI subsequently visited the Scorpion Valley community in June on a fact-
finding mission. They held a community consultation to get the residents viewpoint of the
situation regarding the unavailability of pipe borne water and their environmental health
concerns. Representatives of the Water and Sewerage Authority and the Providence Girls School
were also in attendance.

The issues identified during the consultation will be formulated into a proposal that will seek
funding to address the residents' concern of adequate and reliable access to potable water. The
proposal will also seek to ensure that wastewater is adequately managed and that the ecological
health and integrity of the immediate surrounding river system is maintained.

Following the community consultation CEHI’s team briefly toured the Scorpion Valley area to
make a preliminary assessment of the site and to examine areas where drinking water is extracted
as well as sites that are commonly used for bathing and laundering. 

                                   Seafood Safety
                                 A Step Toward Food Security
                                    by Shermaine Glasgow

A study conducted by CEHI on a collaborative approach to seafood safety was presented in June
to a hemispheric conference in Mexico which looked at the promotion of inter-disciplinary,
multi-stakeholder approaches to the development of Integrated Coastal Zone Management
(ICZM) in the Caribbean.

The conference was hosted by the Community Based Coastal Resources Management in Merida,
Mexico from June 19 to 21.

Funded by the International Development and Research Centre (IDRC) of Canada, the event
brought together project leaders from the Caribbean and Latin America involved in various
projects in ICZM.

Other collaborators included the CARICOM Fisheries Unit (CFU), Laval University of Canada
and the International Ocean Institute of Costa Rica.

The projects discussed reflected an attempt to balance natural science approaches with those of
the social sciences.

The first two days of the conference saw the presentation of projects from Trinidad and Tobago,
Barbados, Costa Rica, Belize, Nicaragua, Columbia and Mexico.

Two of the projects covered a range of countries of the sub-region, one of which was the
research conducted by CEHI entitled “A Step Towards Food Security in the Caribbean:
Developing a Collaborative Approach to Seafood Safety.”
The focus of CEHI’s research was to gather information on the incidence, causes and impacts of
seafood borne illness in the region.

Many factors contributed to the interest in this area of focus including the facts that:

    Most of the countries of the region are coastal countries as a result of their relatively
      small size
    Those that are not insular, still have the majority of their populations living in coastal
    Recently, there has been an increase in frequency and range of fishkills in the region
    Fishing is an important industry/activity in many of the countries, particularly in small,
      isolated communities that depend on coastal resources more heavily as they are forced to
      be self sufficient
    Issues affecting the seafood health and safety impact on the potential for the development
      of an export market, and the sustainable use of the resource

The initial phase of the project involved liasing with the Ministries of Health and Agriculture of
CEHI Member States.

Though the research is ongoing, certain trends are however noticeable.

Generally, there was little information available at the national level. Documentation on the
incidence of seafood borne illness and fishkills, and the protocols surrounding the management
of seafood safety issues was lacking or ad hoc, in most cases.

Another glaring deficiency was the lack of testing capacity for marine toxins and harmful marine
micro organisms.

Investigations indicated that storage and handling practices were most likely the chief factors
responsible for the proliferation of seafood illness.

The environmental factors can only be speculated on at this point, but theories include pollution,
and an increase in favourable conditions for the occurrence of algal blooms and bacterial growth
such as increased surface temperature as a result of global warming.

Currently, CEHI is carrying out a pilot project in St. Lucia that will be refined and applied to two
other countries. This pilot project involves meeting and carrying out discussions with seafood
harvesters, processors and consumers, as well as officers from the Ministry of Health and
Department of Fisheries, in order to determine local knowledge and practices (both beneficial
and unsafe), of resource users.

This information will be incorporated into the development of an approach to seafood safety
management of each locality. Feedback at the conference indicated that the research and

presentation were well received by the other participants at the conference. The discussion
following the presentation suggested that there was quite a bit of interest in this area, and there
were several pledges of support in sourcing information from various agencies.

An important point discussed at the meeting was the fact that there was often poor stakeholder
identification and involvement in participatory projects. Thus the feeling of ownership of the
project and the proper management of resources was not always achieved. There was also the
realisation that there is a tendency by some user groups to assume dominance.

Additionally, the point was made that governments were often incorrectly not identified as
stakeholders, and that this accounted for the tendency of participatory projects to conflict with or
not be embodied into national planning and developments.

As a regional inter-governmental agency, CEHI is aware of these complications and supports the
idea of all user groups participating and being educated on the capacity and fragility of coastal
and other resources. 

                                  Land Degradation
                               Land Degradation in the Caribbean
                                        by Shanta King

National awareness seminars have been held in a number of OECS countries including St.
Vincent, Grenada, St. Kitts and St. Lucia to discuss pertinent issues related to land degradation
and its consequences for the Region.

The main objective of these seminars was to sensitize the public to the reality and root causes of
land degradation and the need to arrest it. Also covered was an overview of the United Nations
Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and its role in the process.

Mr. Richard Cox, Senior Programme Officer of the UNCCD facilitated the seminars along with
the relevant government agencies such as the Department of the Environment (St. Kitts) and the
Department of Forestry (St. Lucia).

The seminar in St. Kitts was held from June 11-12 and was very well attended by representatives
of governmental, non-governmental, and community based organizations from both St. Kitts and
Nevis. In St. Lucia the seminar was held on June 25-27. The seminars included presentations by
various resource persons covering issues of land degradation in general, water resources, land
use planning, housing, forestry. CEHI's presentation in St. Kitts was on the issue of land
degradation as it relates to water resources and the issue of drought.

Following the presentations, the participants were organized into working groups to further
discuss the issues and develop a framework to address land degradation. The framework
included legislation, resource allocation and support structures, public awareness and advocacy

and institutional strengthening and capacity building. Recommendations were made for possible
solutions to the identified problems.

The final recommendations/output of the various seminars included:

          Implementation of an awareness programme on the various issues
          Identification of the major problem areas in an effort to develop short, medium and
           long term solutions.
          Development of a National Action Plan
          Creation of relevant bodies to assist with the implementation of the process e.g. a
           national co-ordinating body.

Land degradation can be defined as the reduction or loss, in arid, semi–arid and dry sub humid
areas, of the biological or economic productivity and complexity of rainfed cropland, irrigated
cropland, range, pasture forest and woodlands resulting from land uses or from a process or
combination of processes, including processes arising from human activities and habitation
patterns such as: soil erosion caused by wind and/or water deterioration of the physical,
chemical, biological and/or economic properties of soil long term loss of natural vegetation.

Land degradation is cause for serious concern in the region. Most of our economies are
dependant on agricultural production. Also due to the size of our islands, we exist in a delicate
balance with our environment.

Our water resources are significantly affected by changes in forest and general vegetative cover
as well as subsequent changes in the soil characteristics and resultant effects such as erosion. It is
impossible for us to shift to another area of the country if one area becomes so unproductive that
it cannot support any form of life or sustainable activity.

We must therefore seek to identify the causes of land degradation and formulate strategies to
combat it. It is crucial to our survival.

For more information on Land Degradation and its consequences for the region please contact
CEHI or the UNCCD at


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