Food security problem likely if hinterland floods continue – CDC

Should flooding persist in Region Nine (Upper Takutu/Upper Essequibo) communities, food security there could possibly become a problem, Director General of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC), Colonel Chabilall Ramsarup, has cautioned. He said that while some parts of the region have seen a reduction in flooding, there are still some areas that are of serious concern. “The water went down to some degree, but after some level of consistent rain, the water in the North (Rupununi) is reducing a bit while the water in the South (Rupununi) is increasing. The water around the Lethem area has decreased (in volume), and there is some movement (of water) from the Takutu (river) into the Rio Negro (river). The situation in (the) Rupununi (communities) remains the same,” Colonel

Colonel Chabilall Ramsarup

Ramsarup told Guyana Times.

He said there is still little that can be done in terms of bringing relief to suffering residents of the affected areas, as it all depends on the capacity of the rivers and the situation in regard to rainfall in Brazil.

“We are in talks with Brazil, but the situation remains the same,” Ramsarup said. Residents of Boa Vista in Brazil, who were also threatened by the flooding there, have been evacuated and taken to higher ground. Ramsarup said most of the farms in the area remain under water. However, farmers are trying to reap as much produce as possible, to process the farine and cassava bread that are staples of their diet. “I am not certain of the stage of the crops, because all are not ripening at the same time. The problem is that, if this problem continues, there is (the likelihood of a security problem developing) in a couple of weeks,” Colonel Ramsarup declared. He said some areas already have a food security problem at the moment, particularly those satellite villages situated a couple of miles away, where residents have gone to get away from the flooding. He said the regional authorities are trying to ensure that additional farine and cassava bread are made available to the affected villages, but while this is happening, the CDC is continuing to distribute food items and disinfectants to the affected communities.

A number of shallow wells in the affected communities have been contaminated by flood waters, but in the Lethem area, water is being delivered to residents. Colonel Ramsurup informed the media last week that the CDC had contacted the Brazilian Government to determine what could be done about the situation, but it is already known that it is difficult to rectify the situation in the region. According to the Colonel, it was found that the water in the Rio Branco was rising because of heavy rainfall occurring in the north of Brazil. “We advised farmers there to reap all the crops that can be reaped. We advise that they take all the crops to the mills and ensure that we could utilise as much farine and cassava bread as possible,” Colonel Ramsarup detailed. He assured that there is no shortage of food in the region, but said if the situation persists, it may lead to that.

Agriculture Minister Noel Holder had said that the flooding in the region could not be rectified by Guyana, as it was being caused by the continued “backing up” of the rivers bordering Guyana and Brazil.

While there continues to be bright sunshine in the region, the Ireng and Takutu rivers have been backing up from some 25 feet; and Minister Holder has said the Amazon also seems to be backing up in the Rio Negro, which is backing up into the Rio Branco, which is backing up into the Ireng and the Takutu rivers.

Region Six

In regard to flooding in Region Six, Colonel Ramsarup has said reports show that the water has been receding at a significant rate, bringing some relief to farmers, particular those that rear cattle.