Prepared by Dr Tara A. Inniss, PhD (UWI) MSD (UNSW) BA (York)
Environmental NGO, the Future Centre Trust (FCT) is concerned about the number of reports of littering and illegal dumping in Barbados. The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) has warned regional Governments about the threat the most recent mosquito-borne infection, the Zika Virus poses to the region. Vector-borne illnesses, such as the Zika virus, can have potentially serious health implications for Barbadians and visitors, especially pregnant women. With a number of travel advisories in place, it is also likely to have a negative impact the island’s fragile tourism-based economy.
The FCT remains vigilant about the incidences of improper waste disposal in the island and illegal dumping, with some areas becoming breeding grounds for mosquitoes and rats.
Last week, FCT volunteers documented over 20 illegal dumpsites in St. Michael alone; mostly in the environmentally sensitive Zone 1 Belle Water Catchment Area as well as the populated corridors of Bridgetown. Using the mobile app Trashout.me, volunteers recorded photos and locations of dumpsites. Volunteers found over 10 large discarded appliances in the Belle and over 40 tyres — all harboring water from recent rains.
The FCT urges waste haulers and their clients to work together to ensure a clean, safe and healthy environment for all Barbadians and visitors. The FCT also asks that residents and businesses play their role in reducing waste, finding ways to reuse items before disposing waste and recycling where available. Householders and business owners should also keep their surroundings clean. The environmental organization is also requesting that persons utilize the Trashout.me app to help the FCT and hopefully, policymakers, to monitor sites and prioritize clean ups.
The FCT believes that it is incumbent on the Government of Barbados to provide adequate, affordable, sustainable community-based solutions for waste disposal including the 3Rs — Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. It also urges Government to increase the monitoring and enforcement of littering and illegal dumping in the island. Current policy direction is proving to be woefully inadequate to deal with the pressures being placed on our economy and environment. Barbados needs an urgent, comprehensive public education programme about safe and sustainable waste disposal.
The Ministries responsible for Health, Environment and Water Resources should re-assess current public health and sanitation policies in the light of recent epidemics and consider how they can work with citizens, the NGO community and the private sector to ensure a clean, healthy, safe environment for all.