Photo: IADB

Reinventing tradition to build-in water resiliency in Jamaica


This is the first in what we hope will be a regular series featuring successful climate finance transactions.  Thanks to Anaitee Mills at the IDB for kicking us off, but if you have your own success story to report, please do let us know!

The Problem
Anaitee Mills

Jamaica is a country full of traditions. For years, families in the countryside have relied on techniques of rainwater collection to supply water for domestic and agricultural use. If you travel across the different parts of the country, you will find evidence in many Jamaican households of small systems set up in the most rudimentary ways.

In recent years the country has seen its previously secure water supply and distribution placed under increasing pressure by a combination of factors including population growth, urbanisation, environmental degradation and budgetary constraints. These challenges will be further exacerbated by increasing climate variability due to the impending effects of climate change. Increased frequency and severity of droughts are creating significant disruptions to water supplies and already creating “leakages” in many Jamaican wallets. No pun intended.

Collecting rainwater the old fashioned way …
The Solution

Though water challenges in Jamaica are severe and multifaceted, there are win-win and no regret opportunities for increasing water efficiency while reducing water insecurity and consumption. Integrating existing and traditional, low-cost water efficiency techniques into new housing developments could lead to significant local gains. Housing developers and construction companies have expressed interest in implementing standards and technologies for increasing water efficiency and building resilience against anticipated climate disruptions in new housing developments. However, these private enterprises require access to competitive financing to pioneer climate resilience.

Recognising this opportunity, the Inter-American Development Bank, through its innovation lab, the Multilateral Investment Fund developed a program that intends to provide concessionary financial access to housing developers and construction companies to deliver water secure and climate-resilient housing in Jamaica. The $5.7 million loan will finance the design and application of water efficiency technologies in new and existing housing developments such as small and medium rainwater harvesting systems, low-flush toilets, showers and taps, water efficient washing machines, grey water recovery and re-use systems, outdoor water saving technologies and so on.

Accessing and mobilizing this concessional financing was only possible through the Pilot Program of Climate Resilience (PPCR). The $1.2 billion programme is a funding window of the Climate Investment Funds for climate change adaptation and resilience building.

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What we learned
L to R at the signing ceremony: Minister Dr. Horace Chang, Ministry of Economic Growth and Job Creation, Mrs. Therese Turner-Jones, IDB Caribbean Department Manager and Mr. Earl Jarrett, General Manager of the Jamaica National Group. Photo:IADB

However, finding a traditional and “no-brainer” solution is often not enough to implement a successful project. The buy-in from key players such as the government, housing developers, water efficiency technology developing companies and home-buyers is key. That’s when local partnerships come into play.

The IDB recently signed an agreement with Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), Jamaica’s first mutually-owned commercial bank, to act as Executing Agency to on-lend the concessional financing and provide that trustworthy and well-known banking relationship at a local level.

This will also be supported by a grant from the project facility PROADAPT, which will provide the necessary guidance, training and evidence that water adaptation makes business sense to the developer and the householder by creating a series of business cases, cost benefit analyses and conducting a ‘pilot experience’. This grant will be managed by the Jamaica National Foundation, as the charitable arm of JNBS, which in collaboration with other local partners will deliver training on installation and maintenance of these technologies,  develop an awareness program to promote the uptake of water efficiency, create an entrepreneurship program for MSMEs to help grow the market, and work with national entities to review, revise and develop new sector guidelines and building codes.

With these partnerships, the IDB seeks to bring back these long-established traditions and scale them up for existing and new housing developments all over the country.


If you’ve successfully completed a climate finance project, please contact us to let the world know about it – and what you learned that others can learn from!

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