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CATS program to protect Caribbean ecosystems

The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA) is aiming to reduce pollution and restore the health of Caribbean ecosystems, under the Caribbean Aqua Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) Program.

The program focuses on managing natural resources and building resilience to climate change.

Lyndon Robertson, Head of CARPHA’s Environmental Health Department provided insight into the CATS program.

“The CATS program is an initiative of the Federal Republic of Germany and the CARICOM Secretariat. It focuses on the management of natural resources and building resilience to climate change. It was conceptualized in 2012 and started in 2013 as two components. Component one looked at adaptation to climate change and agriculture in rural economies, and component two focused on the conservation of coastal resources and bio-diversity.”

The CATS program does work in eight territories—Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, Grenada, Saint Vincent, Saint Lucia, Dominica and St. Kitts/Nevis. Mr. Robertson said the interventions aim to not only protect natural resources, but also human health.

What we are doing under that program is that we are undertaking interventions with national partners, whether it be the ministries of agriculture, the ministries of the environment, or water resources agencies, and these interventions are meant to protect natural resources, protect the environment, and also protect human health.”

Mandy St. Rose, Ridge to Reef Liaison Officer for the CATS program, has been assisting countries with their conservation activities, one of which includes a biogas digester intervention.

The focus of many interventions is on cleaning up and assisting land users in their practices on land in such a way that it has a more positive effect on the quality of our marine life. For example, a biogas digester intervention was done both in Saint Lucia and Grenada. This was to address a wastewater issue. Commonly swine farmers would dispose of waste from the pig pen directly into the water way. The biogas digester is not a new initiative. What we’ve done with it is that we have scaled down the construction and maintenance of it to a level where the average farmer can construct one himself, and maintain it himself.

“Another area is in our agriculture sector which tends to use a lot of chemical fertilizers. So we have had training sessions with farmers to educate them on natural pest control, composting, and cultivation practices.”

The Caribbean Aqua Terrestrial Solutions (CATS) program is an initiative of the German Development Corporation (GIZ), and the Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA). It seeks to restore the health of ecosystems and livelihoods by reducing pollution from households, farms, over fishing, and poaching.


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