THE PEOPLE of Plum Mitan, nestled in the countryside of east Trinidad, are happy that they will now have a constant supply of water, thanks to three months of training in rainwater harvesting.
This initiative was made possible by Coca-Cola, the Foundation for Sustainability and Equity and the National Institute of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (NIHERST).
The project cost US$45,000 and will benefit more than 1,000 people in Plum Mitan and neighbouring communities. It was part of the Every Drop Counts campaign undertaken by Dasani, a branch of Coca-Cola. The initiative seeks to enable communities to access clean, potable water for everyday consumption.
At a small ceremony at the community centre on Friday, 20 people were presented with certificates for completing the programme. These “ambassadors” of water harvesting are now able to divert the flow of water from their roofs, get it clean, and store it properly for use.
Coca-Cola’s public affairs manager for its Latin Center Business Unit, Juan Pablo Corredor, said, “This project is done on a needs basis, where the communities with limited water access are sought out.
“Without the proper mechanisms and measures, the water can get contaminated through different environmental factors. With this project, we hope to contribute to the improvement of the health and quality of life of the people in this community.”
A similar project was carried out in 2018 in Cumana, where 16 people were given the same type of training. That project allowed approximately 1,400 residents to benefit from clean rainwater. Both groups were provided with tanks, pipes and materials to begin constructing their own home water systems.
Plum Mitan graduands also constructed a water system at the community centre to provide clean water for a disaster shelter, for use at community functions and for roadside access by residents.
Vice president of NIHERST Roopchand Raghunanan said, “The technology is easy to use and not only provides clean water for the community, but also teaches water conservation.
“The water system is now owned and managed by the community. NIHERST will monitor and evaluate the use of the system, but it is solely in the hands of the community for upkeeping.”
Graduand Nadira Sankar said, “For years there has been water all around, but not a drop to drink. The information presented at this programme opened our eyes to our role as environmental watchdogs, to maintain and manage our community water sources.”
Another resident, Russell Mahon, said, “This is beneficial for all of us, especially as a farming community. I would like to see this being taught in schools. Water is important for our survival after all.”
MP for Cumuto/Manzanilla Christine Newallo-Hosein said, “I will be looking into having discussions with the Ministry of Education to see how we can have this programme introduced in our schools. This is a very important for communities like this.”
This programme is part of wider campaign in which 25 similar projects were carried out in several other Caribbean and Latin American countries where Coca-Cola operates.