–Ministers tout idea of permanently relocating residents to settlements, higher ground
Farmers and other villagers who reside in communities along the Pomeroon River have over the past few days, been affected by flooding due to persistent rainfall and high tides.
Earlier this year, persons in the area were severely affected by the nationwide floods, which affected all ten Administrative Regions in Guyana.
Today, Prime Minister Brigadier (Ret’d) Hon. Mark Phillips and Agriculture Minister Hon. Zulfikar Mustapha visited several flood-affected villages along the Pomeroon River to assess the damages caused by the floods.
During the meeting, Prime Minister Phillips told residents that unlike Guyana’s Coast, areas in the Pomeroon did not have the same infrastructure.
“We were able to use pumps, sluices, and gravitational flow to get the water off the land along the Coast, but the Pomeroon area is of major concern. This is unusual rainfall for this time of the year. Some areas had as much as 5.37 meters of rainfall in one day and it’s the third time for this year that many of the farming communities in the Pomeroon have been underwater,” Prime Minister Phillips said.
The Prime Minister said [the government has since made hampers available to those affected.
“In terms of interventions, we have transported food and sanitation hampers. These hampers will be distributed in the communities because we know your crops were destroyed and the issue of food and food security will be affected. While the water may have receded in other areas, we recognize, from reports that the water continues to rise in the Pomeroon and therefore you will be affected over the next few days,”
Meanwhile, Minister Mustapha said in addition to the short-term measures mentioned by Prime Minister Phillips, the government was aware that other measures were needed to mitigate flooding in the area.
“Although a number of residents received flood relief assistance for the floods they experienced earlier in the year, we are here again because of flooding. Flooding in this part of the region is not an issue that we can deal with directly and drain the flooded areas. In this area, we cannot make the same infrastructural interventions that we can make on the Coast. The ministry through the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) has been working to implement immediate relief systems through the construction of block drainage structures in several areas in the Pomeroon. Only yesterday (Thursday) a contract was signed for the construction of several block-drainage structures in the Pomeroon. The ministry will also continue that programme in 2022,” Minister Mustapha said.
He also told residents that in addition to infrastructural interventions, the government is also considering developing settlements on high grounds so that persons can be relocated.
“We have to look at the long-term solution and now is a time when we, as a government, and you, the people, have to consider relocating to settlements and higher grounds. If we want different results, we have to change the way we’ve been doing things over the years. The last time the President was in this community he made that suggestion were by we can identify an area to relocate persons. Persons cannot continue to live with the effects of flooding and having their livelihoods destroyed by floodwaters. As a government, we have to ensure we put long term systems in place that will mitigate flooding,”
Desilting the Pomeroon River
In addition to the short-term measures, both the Prime Minister and the Minister of Agriculture have indicated the government’s long-term measures to address flooding in the Pomeroon include the desilting of the mouth of the Pomeroon River.
Acknowledging the fact that the heavily silted river mouth continues to contribute to flooding in the area, both ministers expressed that such a project is extremely costly and assured residents that it is being discussed at the highest level.
Sighting the possible health effects, Prime Minister Phillips also appealed to residents to avoid flooded areas. He also encouraged residents to utilize the services offered at the various medical centers especially if they feel ill or experience skin irritations.
Regional officials along with extension officers attached to the ministry, are currently assessing the flooded area to determine the extent of the damages. Farmers were also encouraged to engage the ministry so that they can benefit from its smart agriculture programme whereby they can purchase shadehouse materials at a minimal cost so that their cultivation can be done in a controlled environment.
Some 1800 hampers containing food items, cleaning supplies, and purification tablets for drinking water were distributed to persons from the affected communities along the Pomeroon River.
Some of the communities visited include Hackney, Abram’s Creek, Kabakaburi, St. Monica’s Mission, and Karawab.