APPROXIMATELY two weeks after persistent rainfall and overtopping rivers resulted in flooding in all 10 administrative regions of Guyana, some residents in Regions Five (Mahaica-Berbice) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne) are beginning to experience relief.
On Friday, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha; Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall and Minister of Natural Resources, Vickram Bharrat, conducted a follow-up flood assessment exercise in several areas in Regions Five and Six.
Prior to that visit, Minister Mustapha visited most of the affected areas in both regions and put several measures in place to help drain the water.
Francesca Alexander, a farmer from Ithaca, said she lost some chickens and crops as result of the flooding.
“I was severely affected by the flooding because I lost more than 50 meat birds and the garden and everything. I know this flooding is happening all over the country so we have to try our best.
“The government has made several meaningful interventions and we are beginning to get some relief. The waters are slowly receding and they said they will assist with seeds and so. They also distributed hampers with foodstuff and things to clean out,” she said.
Sandra Jordan, a resident of Rosignol sought Minister Mustapha’s assistance after reporting that several of her pigs had died. She said the animals were her only source of income and means of providing for her family.
“My house and yard flood out a lot. The bridge is flooded and I have little children. It is becoming hard for us to move around now when the water come up. I’m trying to mine some pigs just for our daily bread but with the flood now, a whole set die out.
“Now the yard ease out with the little water but I’m still in need because these pigs I would sell them and earn something to maintain myself,” Jordan said.
Meanwhile, over in Region Six, Jason Ramdehal, a resident of Bangladesh, said the floodwaters started to recede after the machines cleared several drains in the areas.
“This morning we were ready to take action but the machines came and did a good job. The water drop plenty from this morning to now. The pumps them working too so we getting results.
“The minister did promise to send the machine and it came, so we glad. We just gotta hope the weather hold up for a couple of days so that the place could drain off,” Ramdehal said.
During his engagement with residents, Minister Mustapha disclosed that floodwaters had begun to recede after the government put several measures in place over the last few weeks.
“Here in Bangladesh, like other areas, the water has receded to some extent after a number of interventions were made. We have been doing some amount of empoldering in various communities and pumping water out on a 24-hour basis. We’ve mobilised several machines and placed them at strategic points in these communities.
“Hopefully, we can complete those exercises by [Saturday] and within another two days or so, residents should have more relief. We are hoping the weather holds. The water from the back lands has been putting a lot of stress on the drainage system in the housing areas. When these areas are drained and the sluices are closed, waters would rise again and the lands would once again become inundated. We had to close all the inlets that would usually bring water into the housing areas from the back lands,” Minister Mustapha said.
He said the government’s main focus is to ensure that flood-affected persons are safe and have enough food to feed their families. He also said while preliminary assessments are being conducted to determine the number of crops and livestock that were destroyed as a result of the flooding, a more detailed assessment will be done once things return to some level of normalcy.
Meanwhile, the Local Government Minister said resources are currently geared towards providing emergency support for those who are severely affected.
“The Regional systems have been activated and the resources are geared towards providing emergency support to severely affected households in the first phase. Government is also doing an assessment to determine what needs to be done in the future and how resources will be garnered towards the rebuilding of communities after this phase is over.
“I’m very happy that across the regions, residents have given us their full support in terms of ensuring whatever relief measures are put in place, they promote it as well,” Minister Dharamlall said.
Additionally, the Natural Resources Minister said the government has been working assiduously to get the situation under control but persistent rainfall and high tides are challenging these efforts.
“This is a situation occurring in all 10 administrative regions and Cabinet Members have fanned out across the country to see what sort of immediate relief can be given to residents. I know the immediate relief needed by everyone who was affected is for the water to recede so that they can go back to some amount of normalcy.
“We’ve seen water in kitchens, homes, and yards and it is important for us to work as hard as possible to ensure residents get relief. You can understand the difficulty we are facing too with the continuous rainfall that we’ve been having throughout the entire country.
All the measures that have been put in place by the Ministry of Agriculture through the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) have been bringing some amount of relief, but then we are still faced with the high tides and continuous rainfall,” Minister Bharrat said.
So far, several pumps have been dispatched to assist with draining the lands in all of the affected areas. Additional excavators have also been mobilised to assist with clearing clogged drains and canals, as well as empoldering areas and sealing breaches in a number of dams.
Some of the areas visited during the exercise were De Hoop, Ithaca, Rosignol, Blairmont, Belvedere, Babu Jaan, Bangladesh, and Port Mourant. Minister Mustapha will also be conducting flood assessments in other regions over the next few days.
(Ministry of Agriculture press release)