Relief supplies for flood-hit Charity
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Prime Minister Mark Phillips and Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mutapha  listen to concerns of residents. Also pictured (right) is Regional Chairperson, Vilma De Silva
Prime Minister Mark Phillips and Minister of Agriculture Zulfikar Mutapha listen to concerns of residents. Also pictured (right) is Regional Chairperson, Vilma De Silva

– Windsor Castle pump to be transferred to help drain water

By: Indrawattie Natram

PRIME Minister Mark Phillips and Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustapha on Tuesday visited Charity to assess the flood situation first-hand, and among steps taken was the immediate transfer of the Windsor Castle pump to assist in draining the floodwater which has been stagnant for several days. In the coming days residents can expect relief packages, while farmers will receive supplies for use when the flood ends.

Minister Mustapha and regional officials during the walkabout

The two ministers lead a team through the flooded streets of the Region Two community’s squatting area and listened to concerns of the affected residents.The region has been experiencing heavy rainfall for more than a week. Charity, the most affected part of the region, has been under floodwater since Boxing Day. Rain has been falling continuously since then, resulting in the water remaining in bottom flats and yards.

During one of the interactions, some residents told the ministers that they have been underwater for approximately four days. This situation they explained, is a serious threat to their health. Most of the nearby canals and the Pomeroon River are swollen and according to residents, the construction of additional sluices at Friendship and Cozier may help to alleviate this situation.

On hearing this, Minister Zulfikar instructed National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) engineers to immediately transfer the pump to Charity. The minister informedresidents that while this is a temporary measure, key stakeholders such as the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), the Charity/Ursara Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), and central government will be collaborating to find a long-term solution for the Charity area.

RELIEF

Monique Edwards, a mother of seven, is concerned about the health and safety of her children who are suffering from a gastro-like illness

Those residents who are severely affected by the flood will get relief packages from the Ministry of Agriculture. Minister Zulfikar said he has instructed the heads of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Guyana Livestock Development Association (GLDA), and the National Agricultural Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) to assess the losses suffered by the residents and to use that information to compile a report, so that the relief distribution can commence. The affected cash-crop farmers will be given planting materials; poultry farmers will also receive assistance.

A resident in a flooded part of Charity

Additionally, a team will be dispatched to the region to further assess the situation. The RDC will be monitoring the Pomeroon areas, where hundreds of acres are reportedly under floodwaters. A task force at Charity and one for the rest of the region were set-up to continuously monitor the situation. Meanwhile, the minister used the opportunity to disclose that the Government of Guyana recently approved $7.8 billion for improvement of infrastructure across the country. He said that he has since noticed that most of the drainage and irrigation (D&I) infrastructures are collapsing and that critical structures had been neglected by the previous administration.

Bottles and other garbage which are clogging the drainage system at the Charity Market

“What we are encountering now is, we are seeing collapsing of D&I structures. We have seen it in Wakenaam, Leguan and right on the Essequibo Coast. Kokers and sluice doors collapsing. We have to ensure we fix these structures,” he said.  PM Phillips later indicated that the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) will be visiting the Charity area on Wednesday to further assess the losses residents have incurred. During the walkabout, he noted his dissatisfaction with the way vendors were dumping garbage into the drainage system.

A resident makes her way through a flooded section of the squatting area at Charity

“There is a lot [that] needs to be done in terms of not only clearing the outfall and the koker and pumping the water off, but also there is a lot of garbage built up over the years that is clogging the area. We, therefore, expect the RDC to work with the NDC and with the help of central government this can be fixed,” the Prime Minister said.

THREAT TO HEALTH
Residents living in the squatting area said the flood situation has them living in continuous fear. Their lower flats are inundated and many are exposed to “filthy” water flowing out of nearby pit latrines. Monique Edwards, a worried mother of seven, said her children are sick and vomiting. She explained that she has a pit latrine and her yard has been inundated since Boxing Day. This, she said, is posing serious health threats to her family.  “My children vomiting and getting diarrhoea. Since Boxing Day they been sick. We need instant help because if the situation doesn’t change, then I am sure people will die,” Edwards expressed. Another severely affected family are the Johns. Mervin John, a father of nine became emotional while relating that he has not showered in days. His family would usually rely on the canal water to shower, but due to the flooding, no water is available for this or other domestic purposes. “I want some freshwater to bathe. Me and my children, we are suffering. There is nothing to eat nor drink since the flooding,” the father said.

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