BRIDGETOWN, Barbados — The board of directors of the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) has approved funding of US$8.7 million to the Belize Water Services (BWS), to improve the supply of potable water on Ambergris Caye.
Ambergris Caye is the largest island of Belize, and a popular tourist destination. Water on the island is provided by a reverse osmosis plant, which desalinates sea water. Although the desalination plant is currently producing at its maximum capacity, there are still periodic water shortages on the island, as a result of increased demand since the plant was incorporated in 1996.
BWS will use the approved funding to acquire the reverse osmosis plant on Ambergris Caye, which is currently owned and operated by a private supplier. The funds will also support the expansion of water and sewerage systems on the island, with consideration to the possible future effects of climate change.
“Supporting economic development on Ambergris Caye requires the provision of safe, affordable, potable water. Through this project, the BWS will be able to expand water production systems on the island, leading to fewer water shortages. We note the potential of this project not only to provide costs savings to BWS but also to boost tourism activity in the area,” said Daniel Best, director of projects, CDB.
Additional project components include the installation of a solar energy system at the San Pedro water treatment site, which will allow BWS to save approximately 37 percent of the current electricity cost for this site. The funding will also support the development of a gender policy and operational strategy for human resource management at BWS, which will cover areas such as recruitment, retention, and training and development, to improve gender equality in the workplace.
A final component of the project will cover technical assistance to improve communication and public education, and stakeholder education. This will assist BWS in developing methods to improve customer outreach, and engage stakeholders at every project stage.
Funding is being provided through a loan of US$8.5 million, and a grant of US$205,000. The project is consistent with CDB’s 2016-2020 Country Strategy for Belize, which identified water as a key sector for support, and acknowledged that physical development was leading to increasing demands for water and sewerage services. Previous water projects funded by CDB include the Belize River Valley Rural Water System and the Belize City Water and Sewerage Project.