INTEGRATED WATER AND SANITATION PROGRAMME FOR THE PLACENCIA PENINSULA
Today September 11, 2012; Ladies and Gentlemen, the fine people of Placencia Peninsula; we are here to inform the General Public that the Government of Belize in conjunction with Belize Water Services Ltd. (BWSL), have lied to, mislead and manipulated the communities of the Placencia Peninsula.
A TIMELINE OF EVENTS:
July 27, 2010: I attended the first meeting about the Integrated Water and Sanitation Programme for the Placencia Peninsula at Robert's Grove, in the capacity, of the Chairman of Placencia Village along with Francis Palacio, Chairman of Seine Bight Village. A meeting which I video recorded. At minute 49 I stated, from the information I was gathering at the meeting, that it seems that BWSL wants to take over the Peninsula's Water Boards, I also stated that if I presented the information they just gave to me, that the people of Placencia would reach the same conclusion. Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) Team Leader of the Water and Sanitation Project, Lu Shen, did not clearly state whether or not BWSL would take over the Water Boards.
August 2010: "The Ministry of Finance, along with the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, the Ministry of Public Utilities, Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of Labor, Local Government and Rural Development jointly submitted a Cabinet Paper requesting approval to (i) delegate the management of water and wastewater services in Placencia to BWSL." It was not until August 27, 2012 that the Peninsula became aware of this cabinet decision, when a document was leaked to the Placencia Village Council and the Placencia Water Board. This document, dated August 20, 2012, which clearly references the Cabinet decision, was written by Maria del Rosario Navia Water & Sanitation Specialist for the IDB, to H.E. Yvonne Hyde, CEO of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development.
December 10, 2010: The Integrated Water and Sanitation Programme for the Placencia Peninsula IDB Loan Proposal document (BL-L1015) states on page 4 section 1.9: "Placencia Water Sector Policy Changes: It was determined that the best solution to ensure effective and efficient services in both water and wastewater would be to transfer the responsibilities for water from the Village Water Boards to BWSL."
Also, Section 1.10 of the same loan document, "In August 2010, the Ministry of Finance, along with the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment, the Ministry of Public Utilities, Information and Broadcasting and the Ministry of Labor, Local Government and Rural Development jointly submitted a Cabinet Paper requesting for Cabinet approval to (i) delegate the management of water and wastewater services in Placencia to BWSL; and (ii) mandate universal sewer connections. The Cabinet approved the said paper in late August, thereby formalizing the institutional arrangement for the water and wastewater service provision in Placencia."
January 20, 2012:
Halcrow's final report released to the public: EXISTING CONDITIONS > SECTION 2.5.1 > WATER SOURCES > SUB-SECTION 126.96.36.199 > Government of Belize Water Sources states, "Belize Water Services (BWS) Ltd. does not currently serve the Placencia Peninsula in the delivery, treatment or management of potable water. At the time of this report, there is NO known expectation for BWSL to expand its services to the Peninsula." This statement contradicts the IDB loan document released more than a year earlier, as well as the August 2010 Cabinet decision.
In Conclusion, the final Halcrow Report released on January 20, 2012 stated, that there was no known expectation for BWSL to expand its water services to the Peninsula. This was 2 years after the Cabinet made the decision, in August 2010, agreeing to dissolve the Water Boards of the Peninsula, and more than a year after the IDB Loan Document was written, stating that the Peninsula Water Boards would be dissolved.
In addition, the Halcrow Report listed 4 sewage treatment options. In the same report, Halcrow clearly states that they chose the option that best suited BWSL institutional capacity. There was no consultation or dialogue with Peninsula residents about the sewage treatment options. This lack of transparency and failure to consult the residents of Placencia Peninsula, is in complete opposition with the Peninsula 20/20 Initiative, which emphasizes sustainable, locally generated development.
We have been lied to since July 27, 2010. This project was a brain child of the Placencia Community. We want this project. However, it seems that the minute money got involved, the people of Placencia Peninsula got tossed aside and very important decisions were made without our involvement.
The members of the Placencia and Seine Bight Water Boards and Village Councils came together on September 10, 2012, and discussed and drafted some ideas to share with the residents of the peninsula to determine the best way to move forward.