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Antigua and Barbuda

Water management, policies and legislation related to water use in agriculture


All water resources of Antigua and Barbuda are currently vested in the Antigua Public Utilities Authority (APUA). APUA operates a network of distribution pipes throughout the country to supply treated water to both domestic and commercial sectors. Agriculture is considered to be a commercial activity and irrigation generally does not enjoy any special preference in water allocation.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, and Housing and the Environment (MALHE), former Ministry of Agriculture, Lands, Fisheries and Housing (MALFH), is responsible for technical assistance to farmers on irrigation, drainage, soil and water conservation.

The Caribbean Agricultural Research and Development Institute (CARDI) provides technical assistance and training in soil and water conservation to the MALHE and farmers in collaboration with the Extension Division and under the Natural Resources Management Programme.

Private sector companies such as hotels and recreation facilities (golf courses) employ local and expatriate personnel for irrigation operation and maintenance.

Water management

The current tenure system deters farmers from investing in needed infrastructure to ensure continuous water supplies or marketing systems. Government land policies have helped to keep farms small, with insecure land tenure and plots separated from the farmer’s home. Most of the cultivated land is under government control following the demise of the sugar industry, and farmers typically rent land from the government, usually for periods of up to five years, with little security of tenure. This discourages long-term investments in soil and water conservation techniques needed to expand the sector and enhance productivity. Many smaller holdings suffer from limited groundwater availability, droughts and insect pests, or unfertile depleted soils.

The APUA has a long-term water development plan with emphasis on desalinization of seawater to eliminate the risk of drought and inadequate surface storage and groundwater facilities.


There is no charge for the use of irrigation water obtained from dams or ponds. Where irrigation water is obtained from the municipal water supply, the user is charged.

Policies and legislation

There are 46 separate pieces of legislation related to water supply management, directly as land use, water and waste management laws or indirectly as protected areas, forestry and agriculture laws. Many of these laws, such as the Watercourses and Waterworks Ordinances of 1945, last amended in 1953, need to be updated (OAS, 2005).


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