On 6 March 2020 the Caribbean WaterNet/Cap-Net UNDP participated in the Adopt A River Programme Implementation Unit (AARPIU), which falls under the purview of the Water Resources Agency/WASA, hosted its 3rd Annual River Conference in Trinidad and Tobago, under the theme ‘Connecting the dots….Mentoring towards sustainability’.
The Adopt A River (AAR) Programme is an initiative to involve the community and corporate entities in the improvement of watersheds in Trinidad and Tobago in a sustainable, holistic and coordinated manner. The main objective of AAR is to implement approved watershed rehabilitation and conservation projects, identified by stakeholders at national and community levels, for water supply and/or water management improvement and to build awareness of local watershed issues in order to improve the status of rivers and watersheds in Trinidad and Tobago.
Secondary Schools across Trinidad and Tobago joined the conference as the role of youth participation in achieving meaningful change in the way citizens interact with the environment was highlighted. Various organisations such as the Ministry of Public Utilities, the Water and Sewerage Authority, Water Resources Agency, corporate partners and non-governmental organisations were present.
The programme consisted of several speakers and engagement activities. Ms. Beverly Khan, Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Public Utilities on behalf of Senator the Honourable, Mr. Robert Le Hunte delivered the opening speech. The speakers emphasised on several topics:
-Janelle Seepaul, past intern attached to the Adopt a River Programme, spoke on meaningful experiences from within the project;
-Luke Pounder, Adopt a River Youth Ambassador, gave an enlightening presentation on his newly formed NGO and its role in Sustainable Water Resource Management
-Curmira Gulston, youth speaker, delivered a speech on youth participation in sustainable development.
-Ronald Roopnarine, Network Manager, Caribbean WaterNet/CapNet UNDP spoke on the Sustainable Development in the Caribbean and the need for data driven decision making
The conference ended with the presentation of awards to Riverspeak 2019 winners, Ms. Kernesha Walters of ASJA’s Girls College, Tunapuna, Ms. Vrishni Maharaj – Naparima Girls’ High School and Ms. Chineka Boatswain, student of Vessigny Secondary School. A Legacy and Leadership Award was also presented to the former Project Manager of the Unit, Dr. Sharda Mahabir.
The conference highlighted the meaningful impact the Adopt a River Programme has had since its inception in 2016, particularly in terms of its intrinsic sustainability and ability to engage communities towards behavioural change relating to integrated water resource management. Caribbean WaterNet was honoured to have been part of this initiative and trusts that these efforts will continue as we work towards a water secure Caribbean.