The Caribbean Desalination Association (CaribDA), a partner of the Global Water Partnership-Caribbean (GWP-C) hosted its virtual conference “Preparing for Climate Change in the Caribbean Water Sector: Planning for Sustainability and Building Resilience” on June 29th – July 1st, 2021.
GWP-C was specially invited to participate in a panel discussion titled “Regional Utility Heads Leading Efforts to Address Preparedness” within the conference. For the panel discussion, GWP-C was presented by Mr. Cyprian Gibson, a member of its Steering Committee and an Executive at The Bahamas Water and Sewerage Corporation (WSC), also a GWP-C Partner organisation.
Mr. Cyprian Gibson
Mr. Gibson is a Civil/Environmental Engineer with almost thirty (30) years of technical and senior managerial experience in the water sector. Furthermore, he currently has oversight of all of WSC’s operations and capital projects on the Family Islands, which involves some 60 water supply and distribution systems (25 reverse osmosis [RO] plants, and 25 water supply reserves), and commercial centers on some 25 islands and cays. He was an ideal candidate to represent GWP-C in this panel discussion which featured leaders/managers from the Caribbean Water and Sewerage Association Inc. (CAWASA), the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency(CDEMA) and the Pan American Health Organisation (PAHO).
The panel discussion considered the fact that the past 18+ months has been a whirlwind of disasters for the Caribbean; from the hurricane season that broke in the Greek alphabet, the eruption of La Soufrière volcano in St. Vincent and the Grenadines, flooding in some of the major Caribbean territories, and the almost never-ending Covid-19 pandemic.
Water utilities are essential actors in all parts of the disaster management cycle and because of this, exposure may be constantly in a fire-fighting mode with little time for strategic planning. However, with crisis comes collaboration and the opportunity to leverage technology, human resource capacity and experience to increase resilience and recover (build back better).
The interactive discussion explored a range of questions listed below and included a Questions and Answers segment:
- What are the lessons learnt during the response and recovery from these disasters that can serve to bolster water utilities’ preparedness?
- What is the most effective strategy to maximise the Caribbean water utilities’ common exposures and experiences to increase disaster preparedness?
- What are some of the emerging risks that utilities should be considering (but are not) in their adaptation strategies, business continuity plans, water safety plans, etc?
- How are Caribbean water utilities riding the disruptive waves of the pandemic – digital transformation, communication and information, wastewater surveillance, supply chain disruption, etc.?
The feedback from panellists, coupled with the questions from participants encouraged very valuable discussions and inputs on the questions raised. GWP-C remains committed to participating and collaborating with its Partners and other stakeholders in important dialogues such as this.