The JN Foundation and the University of Technology (UTech) have forged a partnership to train more persons in water adaptation as one of the solutions to address the country’s drought challenges.

The partnership was formalised through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) recently, which will see the development of a course certifying persons for careers in water adaptation and research relating to rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling.

The Hon. Earl Jarrett, deputy chairman and chief executive officer of The Jamaica National Group, who signed on behalf of the JN Foundation, said that the MoU was a significant collaboration with both organisations working to protect the environment and meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

“We are committed to those goals and we have participated in other UN Sustainable Goals activities. One of our activities is that we will be developing targets for the Group over the next few months, in terms of carbon footprint; and therefore, this project fits in with what we are doing at JN Group,” he informed.

“In respect of the environment, a change in behaviour comes from learning and knowledge; and you are in a position where you are conducting research, you are teaching and communicating. And hopefully, through this MoU, we are signing today, we can get more people to use more water adaptation tools and technology. We will also communicate to Jamaicans that we have to change, in order to live longer and sustainably,” he said.

Professor Colin Gyles, president of UTech, in response, stated that the university was pleased to participate in this particularly important alliance with another home-grown Jamaican organisation.

“A part of what we must seek to practise is collaboration for the common good; and I believe that this particular partnership between two institutions, which are indelibly etched on the landscape of Jamaica, speaks volumes as what we, as a nation, should seek to do,” he said.

 “In relation to the project itself, it could have hardly come at a better time, because as we enter the drought season, we are keenly aware that Jamaica has a problem with water, the land of wood and water. The truth is, there is no reason why…with the brilliance and innovativeness of our people…we should be having that problem. And, I do believe that this project, in fostering water harvesting, water treatment, and innovation; as well as supporting the development of these, is long overdue,” he said.

Claudine Allen, general manager of the JN Foundation, said that the charitable arm of The Jamaica National Group was pleased to be teaming up with the university, to develop the course and commence the programme.

She stated that in addition to programme development, the MoU will allow for research, particularly in the areas of sustainable development, climate change, and energy efficiency; as well as related areas associated with water, housing, and land management.

The MoU was facilitated through the Water Project Jamaica, which is being administered by the JN Foundation. Its objectives are to facilitate the uptake of water adaptation measures in the housing sector across Jamaica. These include:  the use of rainwater harvesting systems; water efficient taps and showers; low-flush toilets; efficient irrigation systems; and grey water recycling facilities; as well as, other appropriate efficiency measures.

Other objectives of the project are to: increase climate resilient housing in Jamaica through greater awareness about the business and financial cases involved in developing and building homes, with water efficient measures.

The project also aims to promote efficiency in the use of water by Jamaicans in their homes; improve the reliability of water supplies; and thereby, enhance the country’s water security and climate resilience.