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Parish, village community address water crisis


Water security and water conservation are indeed among major priorities for Antigua. The government has invested significant resources to increase water availability.

However, several small community groups and faith-based organisations have also taken up the challenge to address the issue directly, right in their own backyards.

One such group is the Our Lady of Perpetual Help Catholic Church in Tyrells. Their ‘Community Water Harvest and Climate Adaptation Project’ seeks to improve harvesting and storage of water to address water security and efficiency concerns within both the church community and the surrounding villages.

Not only will the project increase water harvesting ability, but the church will educate beneficiaries on climate change and the importance of water conservation, according to an Antigua Observer article.

The online news source reported that an above-ground 39,000 gallon-capacity cistern, built in 1932, served the congregation and surrounding homes hailing from the Swetes and Tyrells communities.

Over time, and with the need for repair, the church, as a quick remedy, downsized to a 700-gallon black rubber tank. With protracted drought conditions, and heightened demands for vigilant hygiene due to the pandemic, the inadequacy of the current water supply became painfully apparent.

“The church proactively sought assistance to address the water crisis. They reasoned that in order to fully maximise the 2,500 sq ft of roof suitable for the collection of rainwater, there needed to be a significant increase in water storage,” the article said.

It mentioned the church recently partnered with the Global Facility Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) – UNDP, to retrofit the above-ground cistern, thereby increasing water storage potential by more than 5,500 per cent.

The refurbishment of the cistern is ably led by a project coordinator, and reinforcement and stabilising recommendations proffered by the contractor have been backed with the approval of engineers.

“The excitement of the expected impacts following successful project implementation and completion is palpable. People from within both the congregation and the surrounding villages eagerly volunteered their Saturdays to assist with the start of the project,” the article said.

It mentioned several benefactors, also from within the community, provided in-kind support in the form of refreshments for workers and volunteers, and heavy-duty equipment, such as backhoes.