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Building Resilience Through Waste Diversion and Reduction

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Laurah John, founder of Jua Kali which is a social enterprise tackling waste management and helping to reduce reliance on St Lucia’s only landfill. (Courtesy: Laurah John)

By Alison Kentish

CASTRIES, St Lucia, Monday April 15, 2019 (IPS) – Jua Kali is a social enterprise tackling waste management and helping to reduce reliance on St Lucia’s only landfill, which will reach the end of its lifespan in 2023. The company, with its slogan ‘Trashing the Idea of Waste,’ hosts waste collection drives through pop up depots that encourage residents to bring in glass, plastic and tin cans in exchange for supermarket shopping points.
This is happening as St Lucia, like other small island states, faces climate resilience issues with freshwater quality and deterioration in marine and coastal ecosystems.
Jua Kali is the brainchild of Laurah John. She talks to IPS about why she established Jua Kali and the challenges that she has faced on the project.

Excerpts of the interview follow:

Inter Press Service (IPS): Tell me about your background.

Laurah John
(LJ): I am a purpose driven, creative rebel and sustainability change
agent or at the very least I try to embody those traits through my work
with Jua Kali Ltd. – a profit-for-purpose, social enterprise that
seeks to provide innovative and sustainable resource recovery solutions to
address waste management issues in Small Island Developing States
through strategic partnerships.

Before Jua Kali, I
was a Social Development Practitioner/Short-term Consultant for the World Bank
and Caribbean Local Economic Development project. I was also employed with the
Ministry of Social Transformation.

IPS: What led you to establish Jua Kali Ltd.?

LJ: In 2012, I
completed a Master’s in Urban Studies from the Simon Fraser University in
British Columbia, Canada. My master’s thesis, “Wasted
Lives: Determining the Feasibility of Establishing a Test Case Resource
Recovery Programme in the Urban Poor Community of Faux-a-Chaud, Saint Lucia”
sought to explore Resource Recovery as a tool for alleviating urban poverty,
enhancing environmental sustainability and bettering communities. This research
formed the basis of a business idea that led me and an eight person team to win
the 8th [United Nations Educational,
Scientific and Cultural Organisation
] UNESCO Youth Forum Startup
Weekend in 2013 and led to the creation of Jua Kali Ltd.  in
August 2014.

IPS: Tell me about your slogan, ‘Trashing the Idea
of Waste’.

LJ: We acknowledge
waste as a design flaw in how we built our societies and do not see it as
acceptable. We are challenging the public to re-think the concept of waste and
question consumption patterns and how that contributes to the problem. We are
empowering consumers to recognise that they have the right to leverage
(their dollar) and demand that producers create better quality
products that address the end-of-life reality of their goods.
Producers take limited resources to create goods that are bought then thrown
out. If we no longer believe that waste is acceptable, it means that this
product, once utilised, needs to feed into some other process for continuity –
closing the loop!

IPS: How do you host collection drives and are you
satisfied with public reception?

LJ: The
collection drives are based on the Pop Up shop concept – hence the name Pop Up
depots – where we set up shop with our tents, tables, chairs and army of
volunteers, to create an area where the public may drop-off used household
materials like plastic bottles and containers, glass jars and bottles, as well
as cans and tins. In return, they receive points on their Massy Stores
Loyalty Card. We set up twice a month.

We are very
satisfied with the public’s reception! From our very first day back with the
depots (Mar. 2, 2019), many people came up to us to say how happy they
were that the depots had resumed, what a great initiative it is, and that they
hoped it was coming back for good – encouraging words that reinforced
that we are on the right path.

IPS: What are some of the challenges you face in
this project?

LJ: Raising
awareness is our biggest challenge. Airtime is expensive and although we have
some sponsorship in this regard, much more is required to have a consistent
presence to remind the public of the depots. Additionally, where people receive
their information changes depending on what part of the island they reside.
This requires a communications strategy that is both robust and
multidimensional, pulling on a variety of platforms to target different
audiences.

IPS: Where do you see Jua Kali in 5 years?

LJ: As a regional
leader in socio-environmental stewardship.

IPS: Why is waste diversion and reduction
so crucial to the climate change and environmental discussion?

LJ: To
appreciate the importance of waste diversion and reduction activities and their
contribution to the climate change and environmental discussion, we must first
understand the severity of their impact. Typical disposal and
treatment of waste in a landfill can produce emissions of several
greenhouse gases (GHGs), most significantly methane, which contributes
to global climate change. Other forms of waste disposal also produce
GHGs though mainly in the form of carbon dioxide.

Additionally,
improper waste disposal can create or exacerbate disasters, for example, by
clogging waterways leading to flash flooding and creating hazardous public
health conditions by contaminating water sources, creating breeding grounds for
disease borne vectors such as mosquitoes. Furthermore, on a small island like
Saint Lucia with a limited landmass, sending our trash to a landfill takes up
valuable productive land. There has to be a better way!

IPS: Do you think the Caribbean is giving
sustainable waste diversion and reduction due attention?

LJ: More and more,
Caribbean countries are giving attention to the waste issue, primarily because
of how visible it has become with the increased use of plastics, the
international campaign against plastic pollution and the detrimental impact
this can have on tourism based economies. There is also a growing awareness and
research to highlight the negative impact of waste on water quality and
fisheries. As such, this is driving action towards supporting initiatives like
ours. Could it use more attention? Definitely, but we are making headway.

I would like to encourage the public to believe that small, individual actions to reduce or divert waste together will make a difference! #bethechange

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Construction of 603-Room Ramada in St Kitts on Schedule for September Opening

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BASSETERRE, St Kitts, Thursday July 18, 2019 – Hotel development company Caribbean
Galaxy Real Estate Corporation says construction of the second phase of the Ramada
Hotel in White Gate is proceeding rapidly and the facility is on track for its
September grand opening.

Phase II of
the project is increasing the size of the hotel from 273 to 603 rooms. The
completed facility will comprise 19 structures housing a luxury clubhouse,
garden villas, spa villas, condos, a swimming pool, a state-of-the-art gym, and
a spa. In addition, there will be a restaurant, pavilions and a water park.

Prime Minister
Dr Timothy Harris said the number of people employed in the twin-island
federation will significantly increase as the hotel is staffed for its opening.

He said the spin-off activities generated by the new Ramada Hotel are expected to open up opportunities for tour guides, taxi operators, dining establishments, craft vendors and shops.

Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris (left) with Galaxy’s Vice President of Overseas Development Tang Jiang

At the recent Caribbean Investment Summit, the Prime Minister said investment agents from countries around the world were “amazed at the high-quality infrastructure on St. Kitts and Nevis and the progress being made on major projects in the Federation.”

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CARICOM Commission On the Economy Re-Established

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Special Envoy to the Prime Minister of Barbados on Investment and Financial Services, Professor Avinash Persaud will return as Chairman of the CARICOM Commission on the Economy.

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday July 18, 2019 – CARICOM has re-established a
CARICOM Commission on the Economy, with Special Envoy to the Prime Minister of
Barbados on Investment and Financial Services, Professor Avinash Persaud,
returning as its chairman.

Barbados’
Ambassador to CARICOM, David Comissiong said that Professor Persaud presented
an interim report at the recent 40th Regular Conference of CARICOM Heads of
Government in St Lucia, that gave broad outlines on how the commission
identified the problems facing the region, and what solutions they believed
were appropriate for economic development.

“Professor
Persaud was very clear that we now have to pursue a people-centred
developmental model, where the emphasis will have to be on education, skills
and innovation. He was very clear that we have to take concrete measures to
solve the problems of intra-regional transport, [and] freight, as well as
people. And the fundamental thinking of the commission is that we have to
create greater access,” he said.

“The buzzword
he used, or the central word was…’access for our people’. Our people must have
enhanced access to financial resources; enhanced access to the banking system,
to education, to training, to health services; [and] access to every
citizen.  We must now, in going forward,
pursue a people-centric developmental model 
based around the idea that we must enhance access of the individual
citizen to education, to entrepreneurial [and] financing opportunities; access
in ownership of wealth, [and] access in every dimension.”

The commission
is expected to report in six months, with a fully fleshed out action plan based
on those broad principles.

Last year, CARICOM Heads of Government reconstituted a high-level commission on the economy led by Professor Persaud of Barbados, comprising experts with regional and international reputations to help CARICOM craft a new economic developmental strategy, and to break the syndrome of low growth and economic stagnation that many member states have been experiencing since the onset of the global economic crisis in 2008.

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Unemployment Down in Jamaica | Caribbean360

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KINGSTON, Jamaica, Thursday July 18, 2019 – The Statistical Institute of
Jamaica (STATIN) is reporting further reduction in the unemployment rate to a
new record low of 7.8 per cent.

STATIN’s April
2019 Labour Force Survey said the figure is two percentage points lower than
the 9.8 per cent recorded for the corresponding period last year, and 0.2 per
cent lower than the out-turn for January.

Director
General, Carol Coy, said the number of unemployed persons as at April fell by
25,900 or 19.7 per cent to 105,900, relative to 2018.

She was speaking at STATIN’s quarterly briefing yesterday.

Director General of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica (STATIN), Carol Coy at yesterday’s briefing. (Credit: JIS)

Coy said the
male unemployment rate declined by 1.8 percentage points to 5.5 per cent, while
the corresponding figure for females fell by 2.1 percentage points to 10.6 per
cent.

“The number of
unemployed males decreased by 13,000 to 39,900 in April 2019. Over the same
period, the number of unemployed females was 65,600; this was a decline of
12,900,” the Director General outlined.

Additionally,
she said the unemployment rate for youth, aged 14 to 24, fell by 6.4 percentage
points from 25.9 per cent in April 2018, to 19.5 per cent this year

“The
unemployment rate for male youth declined by 6.4 percentage points to 14.5 per
cent, while the rate for female youth declined by 6.6 percentage points to 25.8
per cent,” Coy said.

She pointed
out that the overall employed labour force increased by 29,900 persons or 2.5
per cent to 1,244,500, over the 1,214,600 for April 2018.

Coy further
indicated that the number of employed males rose by 18,200 persons to 691,500,
while the number of females in jobs increased by 11,700 to 553,000.

The total
labour force increased to 1,349,900 persons, which is 4,000 more than 2018.

In addition,
the number of males qualifying for jobs rose by 5,200 persons to 731,400, while
the corresponding figure for females decreased by 1,200 to 618,500 in April
2019.

Meanwhile, Coy
advised that 736,900 persons were classified as being outside the labour force
in April 2019.

The number was 4,800 or 0.7 per cent fewer than the outturn in April 2018, and was predominantly males.

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