November 15, 2019

Jamaica: GraceKennedy Foundation gets grant to rescue Kingston Harbour


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By Alicia Dunkley-Willis From Jamaica Observer

Jamaica Environment Trust volunteers comb the coastline for garbage at the 2018 International Coastal Clean-up Day 

HE GraceKennedy Foundation has secured a US$960,000-grant from the , through its ecosystem-based adaptation facility, as a start to the daunting task of rescuing Kingston Harbour — the seventh-deepest natural harbour in the world — from degradation and helping to restore it to its former glory.

Appearing at this week’s Jamaica Observer Monday Exchange at the newspaper’s Beechwood Avenue offices in Kingston, executive director of the foundation Caroline Mahfood said the entity would be conducting a pilot project, in conjunction with several partners, including Mona GeoInformatics Institute (MGI) and the Centre for Marine Sciences, using the Barnes Gully, which runs along South Camp Road in Kingston, one from the network of 19 gullies and two rivers which empty into the iconic harbour.

“We are going to see how we can encourage people in the communities — by the way, they are not always the ones guilty of dumping things in the gullies, it’s uptown — but we are going to try and work to sensitise and encourage persons not to do that,” Mahfood told editors and reporters. Noting that a condition of the grant was also to create alternative livelihoods, she said the foundation would be training persons in media skills, which they would then use to create videos relating to the harbour and issues associated with it.

Mahfood said the foundation would also be working with professor of marine biology and director of the Centre for Marine Sciences in the Department of Life Sciences at The University of the West Indies, Mona, Professor Mona Webber, who has done extensive work to restore the mangroves in the harbour. She said mangrove wardens would also be created to see to the well-being and protection of the plants, which are also great protectors from hurricanes.

She said the MGI would be measuring the waste, the types of waste that enter the harbour, and make recommendations on how to reduce same. The project is expected to last three years.

‘Clean Kingston Harbour: Pipe Dream or Pot of Gold’ was the moot of the 2019 GraceKennedy Foundation Lecture, which saw discussions with public and private entities aimed at developing a long-term, sustainable solution to reduce the pollution entering the harbour.

Mahfood emphasised that “the harbour project cannot be a GraceKennedy project. It has to be a Jamaica project so we have to figure out how we can pull other people in”.

The 51 square kilometre-coastal feature is home to many species and is virtually the backbone of the island’s main port (Kingston Port), which is a primary regional transshipment port, serving the Caribbean and Central America. The harbour provides support for many persons who depend on its resources for survival. It is also an attraction which draws in excess of 300,000 local and international visitors during the annual fireworks display on the Kingston Waterfront, hosted by the Urban Development Corporation. Swimming is no longer recommended in the harbour but it is heavily used for pleasure boating and sailing.

Mahfood said the initiative underlined the vision of the Caribbean Philanthropic Alliance — an open platform consisting of corporate leaders and their foundations across the Caribbean — for collaboration amongst the corporate sector, foundations and other philanthropists to achieve the UN Sustainable Development Goals (2030) by the Caribbean and for the Caribbean, of which she is a key member. The group of more than 40 corporate foundations, private sector organisations and other supporting organisations is minded to coordinate initiatives and resources to address complex global challenges facing the Caribbean, especially within the next decade.

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