It’s 2023, over four decades since independence, and yet we are still reading in the newspaper about people having their water supply cut off. Worse still, many thousands of households don’t even have piped water. Our country is in a bad way and government is not caring enough about our people’s needs.
Government should ensure that our people have the basics such as clean, fresh, piped water. Water and food are the essentials of life and ensuring that people can meet these needs or have them met for them, should be the first priority of government. However, under the ULP regime, many thousands of households have been cut off from the CWSA mains water supply.
We have millions of gallons of excess water flowing into the sea every year, so there’s no reason why our people should go without piped water. Government is shooting itself in the foot by allowing households to have their water supply cut off. Doing this is mean and short-sighted, as it exposes poorer households to waterborne illnesses, such as typhoid, cholera and chronic diarrhoea.
An outbreak of these diseases in SVG would be catastrophic for our country, given the inadequate health service and health facilities. Typhoid, cholera and chronic diarrhoea are the cause of more than half of the deaths in Haiti. Contaminated water is also one of the leading causes of childhood illness and the very high infant death rate in Haiti.
SVG is experiencing one of the worst periods of hardship in living memory, given the current global fuel and food price crises caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Many households are finding it even harder to feed their families adequately. Now is the time to reduce the cost of water and to declare an embargo on households having their water cutoff.
Our people’s fresh drinking water security is a national shame. Vincentians’ access to drinking water should be guaranteed by now. It does not take 40 years to build the infrastructure and storage capacity needed to guarantee access to fresh drinking water for all Vincentians. The failure to do this illustrates neglect by government.
The lack of access to fresh drinking water and water security affects poorer households more, as they have to fetch water from rivers, streams, wells or ponds. Water poverty can negatively impact school attendance and children’s education. Water poverty is a barrier to eradicating poverty – and it is avoidable.
In the early days of the ULP regime taking office, they compared SVG to Haiti. Day by day, they make SVG more like Haiti.
The ULP regime must show some common sense and urgently reintroduce fresh drinking water standpipes throughout the country in order to save lives and avert a health crisis. It is inhumane not to have standpipes and provide free, clean drinking water for poor people and poorer households.
The Leader of SVG Green Party, Vincentian-born retired British Royal Air Force Engineer Warrant Officer Ivan Bertie O’Neal, BSc (Hons), MSc, MBA, believes that ensuring everyone has access to fresh drinking water is non-negotiable. It would be a priority under a Green government.
A Green government would tax Taiwan and the super-rich of Mustique and Canouan in order to provide sustainable access to fresh drinking water for all Vincentians.