The degradation of the Caribbean marine environment caused by the discharge of untreated wastewater is a serious concern for those countries whose livelihoods depend heavily on their natural marine resources. Recent scientific studies concur that “sewage pollution from land-based sources and from ships has been the most pervasive form of contamination of the coastal environment”.
Rapidly growing populations, poorly planned developments and inadequate or non-functioning wastewater treatment facilities are but a few of the contributing factors resulting in drastically low levels of effective wastewater treatment in the region:
- 85% of wastewater entering the Caribbean Sea remains untreated
- 51.5% of households lack sewer connections
- Only 17% of households are connected to acceptable collection and treatment systems
The Caribbean Regional Fund for Wastewater Management (CReW), established in 2011, seeks to provide sustainable financing for the wastewater sector, support policy and legislative reform, and foster regional dialogue and knowledge exchange among key stakeholders in the Wider Caribbean Region. The four year project, is being funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) will be the co-implementing agencies for the project.
The Project Coordination Group (PCG) based in Jamaica will carry out the day-to-day management of the CReW project under the oversight of UNEP and IDB, and comprises a Project Coordinator, a Technical Specialist, a Communications Specialist and a Financial /Administrative Specialist. The PCG will be supported by Pilot Executing Agencies (PEA) in the four countries: the National Water Commission in Jamaica; the Ministry of Finance in Belize; the Ministry of Housing and Water in Guyana, and the Tobago House of Assembly in Trinidad and Tobago and by the Secretariat of the Cartagena Convention (CAR/RCU) based in Kingston, Jamaica.
The CReW aims at testing four individual Pilot Financing Mechanisms (PFMs) that will provide innovative financing modalities for wastewater management projects. CReW resources will be used for the capitalization of these four PFMs, and for providing technical assistance, such as design services, to ensure that the projects to be financed under the PFMs satisfy the technical, financial, socio-economic and environmental requirements of the CReW and local governments.
A number of options were considered and evaluated in order to design the individual PFMs including revolving funds, reserve accounts and extended liquidity guarantees. The structure of the PFMs reflect local financial conditions, regulatory frameworks, water utilities capacity and national government objectives.
Wastewater management projects financed by the PFMs will have the following characteristics:
- high priority projects for wastewater service providers;
- high impact in terms of significant improvements or prevention from further deterioration in the quality of coastal waters;
- potential to stimulate policy reforms; and
- require innovative financial and advisory assistance to bring project financing costs within ratepayers' ability to pay.