The National Environment and Planning Agency (NEPA) and the Urban Development Corporation (UDC) are mobilizing community-based organizations, clubs and companies to adopt beaches and conduct local beach cleanups in Jamaica.
The Adopt a Beach Program will provide tools for conducting efficient beach cleanups. By promoting clean beaches, it aims to build communities and secure jobs in the tourism sector during the upcoming 2017 fiscal year.
According to Anthony McKenzie, director of NEPA’s Environmental Management and Conservation Division, NEPA and UDC will distribute volunteers across a strip of coastline for the program’s pilot phase.
Jamaica relies on tourism for sustained economic growth and employment, so it is imperative that its beaches be maintained. Tourism employs approximately 200,000 of Jamaica’s 2.8 million people, about 7 percent of the population.
With support from the European Development Fund, new projects have been developed to improve disposal systems in two Jamaican tourist resort towns. These projects will emulate the Adopt a Beach Program, promoting proper waste management and environmentally safe practices.
The management of solid wastes in Jamaica presents serious concerns pertaining to the environment, public health, society and accountability. Many urban households lack the necessary sanitation tools to ensure proper waste disposal, putting groundwater, rivers and marine life at risk. There is also concern over the development of water-borne diseases.
Beaches are often polluted by private waste disposal contractors, but individuals also contribute to the damage. People are being advised to limit disposal of plastic waste in proximity to beaches. The “Trash Free Waters” initiative sponsored by NEPA aims to reduce the use of plastic blags, some of the biggest contributors to waste.
NEPA public relations officer Deleen Powell advised Jamaicans to find alternatives to using plastic bags. According to Powell, several supermarkets and pharmacies are promoting the use of reusable bags.
The Adopt a Beach Program will help reduce marine litter across Jamaica’s coastline and secure tourist investment and job production.
– Shanique Wright