UB continues Stakeholder Consultations to Develop an Inclusive Watershed Management Plan for the Belize River

On December 19, 2017 at the Faculty of Management and Social Sciences (FMSS) Campus, in Belize City the President of UB, Professor Emeritus Clement Sankat was present to receive a drone from Mr. Mauricio Mejia, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) representative.

The drone that was purchased with project funds from WWF is a DJI Phantom 4 PRO. In addition, an Apple Ipad, was also purchased to be used for aerial surveys to collect data required for the management plan and for future research work at the UB.

This was a part of an ongoing stakeholder consultation through the Natural Resource Management Program from the Faculty of Science and Technology which started on October 13, 2017 at The Dream Valley Resort, to develop and inclusive watershed management plan for the Belize River. Thirty-three (33) participants representing twenty-one (21) organizations from the NGO, Government and Private Sector were present at the event. The opening ceremony included remarks by Dr. Mariot Simon, UB Vice President; Mr. Martin Alegria, CEO of the Department of Environment; Dr. Juan Carlos Rosito, Oficial de Hydrologia de WWF Guatemala; and Dr. Abel Carrias, Project Grant Administrator. The stakeholder consultation included a presentation by Mr. Antonio Cano, Project Coordinator, and was followed by a Stakeholder Mapping Survey and a Problem Tree Analysis Activity.

The stakeholder mapping survey revealed the willingness of eleven (11) organizations to share data pertaining to Land Use, Waterbody & Watershed Conditions, & Socioeconomic Conditions of communities within the watershed by the end of November to support the project. This survey also identified nine (9) additional organizations that should be included in future consultation and who should be contacted with regards to this project. The problem tree analysis identified the following salient issues for the Belize River Watershed: erosion, water pollution, biodiversity degradation, increasing uncontrolled human activity, human and species health threats, and lack of legislative enforcement.

The first stakeholder consultation meeting effectively introduced the project to stakeholders. Efforts are now ongoing to liaise with key stakeholders about obtaining pertinent data for the watershed.

Following the first stakeholder consultation meeting, two additional stakeholder consultation meetings were planned for the month of December. On December 19th and 20th, meetings were convened at the University of Belize campuses in Belize City and Belmopan respectively. These meetings were to consult with community leadership and Farmers. This includes village councils, town councils, water boards, cooperatives, small-scale and large-scale farmers and supporting entities such as the Rural Development Department.
Other equipment that will be purchased through WWF are a ysi 5500 photometer, a camera, and reagents for spectrophotometry. This equipment will greatly assist in the successful execution of the project, and will support further research and learning at the University of Belize.

President Sankat is grateful to Fultec Systems Ltd., The World Wildlife Fund and all partners that have helped the University of Belize on its Transformation Plan to execute on UB’s Mission Statement to a commitment to excellence in higher education, research and service for national development.

President Sankat says, “Christmas is a time of hope, for good cheer, for giving and for sharing, a time for the family and also a time for a well-deserved respite from the rigours of work. It is also a time for quiet reflection as we look to a new year. I therefore wish all or stakeholders an enjoyable holiday with your loved ones.”