WITH the aim of providing a coordinated approach to getting aid to miners affected by the floods, representatives of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) met with the Guyana Geology and Mines Commission (GGMC) and the Guyana Gold and Diamond Miners Association (GGDMA) on Wednesday.
Coming out of the meeting was the decision for the initial hampers to the miners to include mosquito nets, supplies of food products, hygiene and cleaning products, as well as medical supplies to aid in the prevention and protection against water-borne diseases.
Present at the meeting was CDC Director-General, Colonel, Kester Craig; Deputy Director General, Loring Benons; and Preparedness and Response Manager, Salim October.
Present from the GGMC were Commissioner, Newell Denisson; Chairman, Jimmy Reece; Managing Director, Krishna Ramdas; and Chief Mines Officer, Bheemraj Ramkellan. Representing the GGDMA was Technical Services Manager, Vasquez Ramdeen.
During the meeting, October explained that the CDC had done some initial assessments in Region Seven and Region Eight and had some idea of the needs, but wanted the input of the GGMC for a wider picture across the mining regions
“Based on our quick snap look at Regions Seven and Eight, we believe those conditions are replicated in the other communities. In terms of figures, we will need to rely on you for figures. So what we need at this time are the estimates and dynamics of that broken down, according to each mining district,” Salim explained.
Craig noted that assessments of the various regions will soon be bolstered by support from the Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA), which will be sending a team to Guyana to do a “Detailed Damage Sector Assessment”.
At the end of the meeting it was decided that the GGMC would put together a report of where the miners are located, how many miners are at the respective locations and the different means by which the aid can be delivered to the miners at the respective locations.
The two sides also discussed how best they could collaborate to overcome the many logistical issues to ensure that aid gets to the affected miners in the hinterland regions, where many of the communities are remote and difficult to access.
The two sides also agreed on the need for the identification of central locations from which the aid could be distributed.
“The intent is to see how best we can work together to provide relief as far as is possible. We need data on where they are, how they are affected, and to decide collectively how we can help. When it comes to the mining sector we don’t have information so we don’t know how to provide support if we don’t know where they are. So we need logistics,” Craig explained during the meeting. October noted that the exercise will also include input and collaboration from the Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs) and local government organs, as well as the Ministry of Health. October explained that the MoH is currently carrying out a number of health exercises in the various regions and therefore can be collaborated with to deliver supplies.
“The Ministry of Health has been out in some areas and delivered some malaria treatment and screening, along with treatment for skin rashes and COVID-19 vaccination. So if you are going to be doing this then maybe we do a joint package with Ministry of Health. You know logistics of backdams, so your resources augmented with the Ministry of Health resources would facilitate greater access,” October said.
The meeting is part of a multi-sectoral collaborations being coordinated by the CDC in Guyana’s flood response, and followed a meeting earlier on Wednesday, where the multi-stakeholder National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) was officially operationalised.
The GGMC meeting was the first a series of discussions that the CDC and GGMC hope to hold with all stakeholders involved in the mining sector, with meetings with the Guyana Women Miners Association (GWMA) and the National Mining Syndicate (NMS) expected to follow.
EVERY MEANS NECESSARY
Ramdas, from the GGDMA, noted the importance of using every means necessary to ensure that the miners are made aware that aid has been made available, and are properly informed on when and where they need to be when it is being distributed. Ramdas committed that the GGMDA will use its various communication platforms to contact as many miners as possible. The GWMA and NMS will also be contacted to do same and get word out to as many miners as is possible. Ramdas also commended the CDC for reaching out to the affected miners and communities, particularly given that this is the first time during a natural disaster that miners are being considered for aid. He also applauded the collaborative effort being developed between all of the various ministries and agencies to ensure multi-faceted support and aid is given to the miners. Chairman Reece also emphasised the need for better sensitisation of the miners and residents in these areas on the risks that the flooding bring with it. “Education is something you cannot overemphasise. You have children on the landing playing in the water,” Reece noted. During the meeting, Craig also emphasised the need for the miners and residents in the communities to be informed on the projections of continued rainfall, so that they can take the necessary precaution.