Photo: The late Dr. Joseph Christmas (left)

BASSETERRE, ST.KITTS, JULY 12TH 2017 – The late St. Kitts-born Dr. Joseph Christmas, who called for the protection of St. Kitts’ largest water table rose from Head of the Water Department in St. Kitts and Nevis to become Global Chief of Water at the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) based in New York.

In 1973, Dr. Christmas, who hailed from Saddlers Village, wrote the thesis entitled: “Hydrogeology of an unconfined Coastal Aquifer System Basseterre Valley, St. Kitts.”
The thesis was submitted by Dr. Christmas for his Doctor of Philosophy degree at the University of the West Indies Geology Department, University of the West Indies. 1977.

Dr. Christmas’ thesis has been highlighted by the St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party (SKNLP) caretaker for St. Christopher 8, Dr. Terrance Drew who in another clarion call, urged the Timothy Harris three-party coalition not to build the new Basseterre High School on the water table, which provides millions of gallons of water daily to thousands of residents in Basseterre and its environs.

In his thesis, Dr. Christmas stated: “Some of the preceding points and techniques put forth in this discussion, may seem on the surface to be somewhat idealistic in the light of today’s economic realities, but the widespread ruin of several coastal aquifers in various parts of the world as mentioned previously, testifies to the need for effective scientific management of coastal aquifer development. Such management must be founded mainly on hydrogeological and hydrometerological principles,” Dr. Christmas wrote.

Dr. Christmas added: “Attempting to cure a contaminated aquifer by methods such as modification of pumping regime, artificial recharge and creation of pumping trough, pressure ridge or subsurface barrier is not only a costly venture with no guarantee of effective cure within a reasonable time, but the intervening dislocation of the water system can be an impediment to economic development, thus prevention should be the aim.”
Born on 7th February, 1940, Dr. Christmas was a school teacher from 1956 to 1965 as an employee of the Government of St. Kitts- Nevis and Anguilla.

He obtained the Certificate of Education (Teacher Training) at Erdiston College, Barbados, with endorsement by the University of the West Indies, 1964; a B.Sc (Special Honours) in Geology with ancillary Chemistry, University of the West Indies, Jamaica, 1969; an M.Sc. in hydrogeology (groundwater resources development) from London University (UCL), U.K., in 1971; a Diploma in Sanitary Engineering, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, U.S.A., 1973 and a Ph.D. in Hydrogeology, University of the West Indies, (with the University of Waterloo, Canada), 1977.

Dr. Christmas served as Manager/ Water Engineer, Water Department, St. Kitts and Nevis, 1972-1977 managing the national water department with a staff of over 100, from the planning through to the delivery stages, plus the financial aspects.
From 1978 to 1983, he served as Senior Project Officer (Water and Environmental Sanitation) UNICEF, United Nations, based in Mozambique, Africa, employed by United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and responsible for the Organization’s input in terms of water supply and environmental sanitation to Mozambique whose official language is Portuguese.

In executing those functions, he advised the government and trained technical personnel, among other duties.

He served as Senior Programme Officer (Water and Environmental Sanitation), UNICEF, United Nations Headquarters in New York and functioned as a part of a team with global responsibilities for sector in question from 1984 to January 1989.
Appointed Global chief (Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation), UNICEF at UN Headquarters in New York from January 1989 to 1992 , Dr. Christmas managed the sector, globally, covering virtually all developing countries.

As Global Chief, he handled all matters pertaining to policy and strategies for the sector and the inter-sectoral linkages to the other main sectors, namely, Health, Nutrition, Education, and Women in Development.

He served as UNICEF (Resident) Representative from January 1993 to December 1995 and carried out specific assignments in Angola and Kenya, where his main responsibilities were related to the management of the local diplomatic and development activities, on behalf of the organization.

Dr. Christmas took early retirement from UNICEF and the United Nations on January 1, 1996.

He served as St. Kitts and Nevis’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations from August 1, 2000 to November 20, 2006.

Dr. Christmas died on July 28th 2011 at the age of 70.