Government has launched into recovery mode to ensure that the lives of Region Nine residents return to normalcy following the recent flood that affected many of the Region’s villages, brought on by intense rainfall.
Agriculture Minister, Robert Persaud today met with toshaos and village councillors, from 60 communities in South Central Rupununi, at the Amerindian Hostel in Lethem, to discuss where focus areas during the recovery phase.
He told the leaders that President Bharrat Jagdeo had made it quite clear that the Administration will not spare any efforts or resources in ensuring that the response is timely, adequate and sustained.
Minister Persaud recognises that apart from losses in the agricultural field and infrastructure, households were also affected, as such, “there will also be a cash assistance that will be given to every single household.” This will be done once a data base has been completed and Cabinet decides on the amount to be released.
He added that the money allows persons to replace losses in the home and it is a part of Government’s long- term and sustained recovery plan. In addition, Government has committed $200M to be spent on road rehabilitation and road links throughout the Region.
Minister Persaud noted that sustaining the response is important to move from relief to recovery and, “we are currently in that recovery phase and we hope that the recovery efforts can be kicked off with emphasis on food availability and food production”.
He emphasised that in ensuring an effective response to the issue of food security the Agriculture Ministry, even before the flood waters receded, received clear instructions from the President outlining the need for the establishment of a recovery programme that can support every single community in moving quickly into food production.
Thus far the Ministry has deployed additional technical officers, who give support to both crops and livestock concerns, to the Region. Following this an assessment was made of the extent of the damage caused by the flood, described by residents as the highest in living memory.
Climate smart agriculture
Some of the preliminary assessments indicate that over 1000 acres of crops were destroyed and based on calculations by the various communities, Regional Administration and Non Governmental Organisations the crop loss is estimated at 100,000 pounds. These include cassava, fruits, peanuts and vegetables.
“We need to move quickly in the area of replacement crops …in a climate smart way, that is, whatever we do we take into account where we were vulnerable to minimize risks and losses and what we could have done better,” the Minister stated.
He explained that with the effects of climate change, weather patterns are expected to get worse, from all predictions, not only in the hinterland but also along the coast as well; as such famers must be able to adapt to reduce losses.
Minister Persaud called on the farmers to cooperate to reduce vulnerability in terms of the infrastructure, introduce and use new technologies and seek new approaches to agriculture and food production while keeping in mind the lessons learnt during the flood.
Some of the supplies presented to the various communities in Region Nine.
The communities represented were presented with a number of farming supplies including chemicals to treat acoushi ants, spray cans, a variety of seeds, mineral blocks, storage containers, cassava mills and small water pumps. These are based on requests made while modernizing efficiency of the farmers.
Minister Persaud commended NGOs such as RAM, Red Cross, the Civil Defence Commission, the Lethem Private Sector and the Regional Administration for their combined efforts which made the flood response/relief successful.
Last week Minister Persaud had indicated that the Guyana Bank for Trade and Industry (GBTI) will be assisting the affected farmers through financing at an interest rate of six percent with no security required and today, a bank representative was in attendance at the meeting.
Agriculture Minister, Robert Persaud and Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai joined by toshaos and village councillors at the presentation of the supplies, in Lethem .
Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, who also at the meeting, noted that in addition to the supplies given by the Agriculture Ministry, an additional $10M has been allotted to cater to the requests made by a number of villages in the initial stage of the flood.
She noted that some villages have not been maintaining contact with the relevant authorities to make known their needs. In this regard, Minister Sukhai called from increased communication which should be done by the toshaos and Community Development Officers, daily, with the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs.
During the coming weeks there will be continuous follow-ups by the relevant Ministries to ensure the recovery phase goes well.
Improvement in Communications System
Regional Executive Officer (REO), of Region Nine, Ronald Harsawack, said during this, phase of recovery emphasis will also be on bettering the communications systems in the villages as focus is placed on returning the areas to a state of normalcy.
In the initial phase, more than 400 families benefitted from food and shelter while the second phase saw support teams reaching out to affected residents.