A three-day Water Quality Workshop, attended by participants from Anguilla, Montserrat and Tortola, was opened in Anguilla on Tuesday this week by Minister of Social Development, Edison Baird.
The workshop, sponsored by the Pan American Health Organisation and facilitated by personnel from the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute, was held at the Anguilla Community College.
Mr. Baird said the Ministry of Health took its responsibility for monitoring the island’s water supply and safeguarding public health very seriously. “The training on which you are able to embark is key to ensuring that participants have an understanding of basic principles of water quality monitoring and the importance of safe water handling,” he stated.
The Minister said the United Nations Water for Life Decade, started on World Water Day in 2005, an event Anguilla celebrated two weeks ago, provided a unique opportunity to highlight the magnitude of water-related problems. It also had the effect of bringing all stakeholders together to find solutions. He noted that each year more than one billion people had little choice but to resort to using potentially harmful sources of water. He said this perpetrated a silent humanitarian crisis resulting in the death of some 3,900 children a day.
Mr. Baird stressed the need for personnel in Anguilla to be vigilant in monitoring the island’s water supply as the disastrous consequences of unsafe water were immeasurable.
Senior Water Lab Technologist in Anguilla, Mrs. Celestina Ogolo, gave an overview of the purpose of the workshop. Among other objectives, it was aimed at training participants in safe methods of handling in order to protect the quality of water and health of all users; to provide a clear understanding of the importance of record-keeping and routine maintenance, and a checklist of actions that will improve portable water handling; and to assess the information presently provided to the general public about portable water storage handling and make recommendations to improve the quality of water in the various islands.
PAHO’s Country Programme Officer in Anguilla, Ms. Katrina Smith, hoped that the workshop would not only be informative, but would forge greater collaboration, partnerships and information-sharing among Environmental Health Departments in the three Overseas Territories.
She noted that Anguilla was instrumental in developing the project and applauded the island’s personnel for their initiative. She said that it was determined that the Overseas Territories should work as a group for three reasons: to maximize the scarce resources of the budget; to ensure as much as possible that professionals were on the same level in order to facilitate the objectives of their strategic plans; and to have a smooth transfer of expertise between the territories.
Jaine Rogers, Director of the Department of Health Protection, encouraged the participants to take back what they were taught to their respective places of work so that the handling of water could be significantly improved.
The workshop facilitators were Mr. Lesmond Magloire and Ms. Ermine. Herman of the Caribbean Environmental Health Institute.