I am sorry I was not able to get out of town today with JET, to view the situation in Montego Bay’s South Gully and to learn more about the specific issues of solid waste management affecting Jamaica’s “second city” and tourism centre. Nevertheless, here is JET’s press release and photographs giving details. (Mark your calendars: International Coastal Cleanup Day is September 17, 2016!)
July 27, 2016
JET Launches International Coastal Cleanup Day with Release of Research on Garbage in Montego Bay
The Jamaica Environment Trust (JET) has released the findings of a recently-concluded research project looking at solid waste management issues surrounding the South Gully in Montego Bay, St. James. The report of the South Gully Research Project (SGRP) was released at the launch of 2016 International Coastal Cleanup (ICC) Day Jamaica activities, which took place at the Montego Bay Convention Centre in Rose Hall, St James on Wednesday, July 27. The SGRP and ICC Jamaica activities are being delivered by JET with funding by the Tourism Enhancement Fund (TEF) under the Clean Coasts Project (CCP). The annual ICC event which has been coordinated in Jamaica by JET since 2008, is scheduled to take place on September 17th this year.
The launch event included a bus tour of the South Gully and its environs in Montego Bay, giving a first-hand look at how poor solid waste management has affected the town and its marine environment. “The challenges with solid waste in the South Gully and Montego Bay can be seen replicated across Jamaica and even beyond our shores,” said Diana McCaulay, JET’s CEO. “The garbage we throw away carelessly on land not only has a direct impact on public health, but travels to the coast via gullies and other waterways washing up on beaches and impacting tourism and fisheries.” She went on, “JET tries to raise awareness about this issue through our coordination of International Coastal Cleanup Day; so it was only fitting to launch the South Gully research findings as we kick off our 2016 ICC activities.”
The South Gully Research Project used surveys, interviews and a focus group to assess the knowledge, attitudes and practices of residents, business operators and government stakeholders regarding solid waste management and the South Gully. The major findings from the SGRP report were:
- The garbage found in the South Gully is predominantly domestic waste, specifically plastic bottles, plastic bags and Styrofoam food containers.
- The garbage is either dumped directly into the gully, or washes into the gully from open lots and streets by way of natural and man-made drainage channels.
- Downtown Montego Bay has a longstanding flooding problem which is commonly attributed to an accumulation of garbage and debris in gullies. The design of the gully network also presents a challenge; the South Gully for example, is fed by several narrow, shallow ‘channelized’ tributaries, which tend to overflow their banks.
- The pile up of garbage in the South Gully has also been blamed for increases in pests and disease vectors.
- During heavy rainfall, much of the garbage dumped in gullies washes into the Montego Bay Harbour. This results in many tourist attractions located along its coast constantly cleaning up garbage which washes onshore. Recreational users of the coastline also frequently encounter solid waste which has washed out to sea.
- Illegal dumping in the South Gully is attributed to several factors, including erratic garbage collection schedules, unwillingness of garbage trucks to service informal settlements, a lack of garbage bins in public spaces, a lack of enforcement of the anti-litter laws and weak solid waste management regulations. Poor cultural attitudes to solid waste management in Montego Bay is also identified as playing a major role.
- According to local authorities, millions of Jamaican dollars have been spent on cleaning the South Gully and other waterways in Montego Bay; but there is a marked lack of consensus from survey respondents about the frequency and adequacy of these gully cleanups.
- Among Montego Bay’s residents, businesses and government stakeholders, solid waste management in the South Gully and surrounding communities is recognised as problem, but very few people admitted to themselves dumping garbage illegally.
- There is a strong consensus on public education as a solution to Montego Bay’s solid waste challenges. Other groups pointed to the need for more capital resources to tackle the problem, and greater enforcement of solid waste management legislation in the city.
JET has made several recommendations based on the findings of the SGRP, including improved garbage management infrastructure and services, a targeted public education for the town of Montego Bay on solid waste management issues, revision of Jamaica’s solid waste management act, and increased enforcement of anti-dumping and anti-litter laws.
“The garbage problem Jamaica faces must be tackled using a multi-faceted approach at the local, national, institutional and state level,” said Suzanne Stanley, Deputy CEO of JET. “At the individual level, we as Jamaicans need to take greater responsibility for our garbage, and educate ourselves about what happens to our waste once we have discarded it. One way to get involved is by participating in activities like ICC.”
Last year, Jamaica’s ICC day was in the top 15 worldwide, ranking 14th out of 93 countries. This year JET will again be partnering with several other government agencies and the private sector to stage the event, which is planned to take place at over 120 beaches across Jamaica on September 17th.
For the full SGRP report and more information on how to get involved in International Coastal Cleanup Day activities and register to be a part of the event this year log on to JET’s website: http://www.jamentrust.org
Jamaica Environment Trust
123 Constant Spring Road, Unit 5, Kingston 8
Tel: (876) 960-3693/ 470-7580
Fax: (876) 926-0212