Barbados today expressed appreciation to Japan for partnering with the Division of Energy and Telecommunications and providing assistance through its Grant Assistance for Grass Roots Human Security Projects to boost the island???s sustainable energy programme.

A donation of US $121,818 by the Japanese Government facilitated the procurement and installation of solar photovoltaic systems at four primary schools.

Installing these systems within the select primary schools was consistent with the objectives of the Japanese programme, which supports areas such as primary health care, primary education, poverty relief, public welfare and environment.

The four schools are Charles F. Broome Memorial, Luther Thorne Memorial, Grantley Prescod and Good Shepherd Primary Schools.

Addressing a ceremony today at Government Headquarters, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Senator Patrick Todd, said: ???The erection of solar photovoltaic systems at schools was envisioned to accomplish multiple objectives, including the decrease in the schools??? electricity consumption; the provision of an emergency power supply during disasters; as well as a public awareness, educational and training component.???

He noted that in December 2012, during the development of the project, Japan had invited Barbados to participate, and this saw the island qualifying for the access of a grant of up to $10,000,000 Japanese Yen or approximately USD $100,000.

???After extensive discussions with the Japanese Government regarding the scope and details of the project, the Government of Barbados partnered with the Association of Primary School Principals, as this organisation was identified as the non-governmental organisation which would be the grant recipient,??? Senator Todd explained, adding that the programme was expected to result in a 10 to 30 per cent reduction in the schools??? energy costs.

The project, according to the Minister is also expected to benefit staff, 3,400 students, as well as parents and guardians, who through exposure to photovoltaic technology, would ???hopefully, develop a better understanding of energy issues and its relationship to climate change???.

Noting there were many challenges to be faced in addressing the island???s energy and environmental responsibilities, Mr. Todd however stressed that numerous international relationships were likely, as this grant assistance had demonstrated. ???We remain indebted to the Government of Japan for collaborating with the Government of Barbados in all efforts as we seek to reduce our energy consumption and carbon footprint,??? he stated.??

Echoing similar sentiments on the benefits of the project was Second Secretary with the Embassy of Japan, Takafumi Ura.??Each school, he said, would stand to benefit significantly as it reduced the level of energy consumption with an environmentally- friendly power alternative.

???Students will now have the opportunity to develop their knowledge and understanding of renewable energy through the imparting of fundamental training tailored appropriately for primary school student learning. The recipient schools should also benefit from significant cost efficiencies reflected through their consumption rates in addition to low operating and maintenance cost,??? Mr. Ura pointed out.

The Japanese representative noted that Barbados had proven to be one of the most economically successful islands within the Caribbean region and also possessed a relatively high Gross National Income.

Observing that this performance had since influenced the country???s ineligibility to benefit from Official Development Assistance under the current International Rule, Mr. Ura said: ???However, despite this change, the Government of Japan continues to acknowledge the vulnerabilities and difficulties faced by small island states like Barbados, which face challenges such as isolation from main international markets and limited resources.???

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