Over 2000 food hampers distributed to flood-affected residents
– as PM leads ministerial outreach to Region 9
Prime Minister Brigadier (ret’d) Mark Phillips on Saturday visited Gunns Strip and Sand Creek, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), to assess the flooding situation in the region.
During the outreach, Phillips distributed about 2000 hampers comprising food items to the residents.
Speaking with the Department of Public Information (DPI), the Prime Minister related that both Gunns and Sand Creek were severely affected by the flooding while adding that water remains on the lands, resulting in damages to crops.
“And, as you know, the Director [General] of the Civil Defence Commission, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig was deployed into the Rupununi area prior to our visit, and the CDC would have done their impact assessment and they would have already started to distribute relief supplies to those affected communities. And the relief supplies we are talking about, food hampers, sanitation hampers,” the Prime Minister noted.
He further posited that there are enough supplies in the CDC bond in Lethem to continue distribution.
However, he hopes that the water recedes soon but at the same time, related that Region Nine is likely to experience more flooding if the waters in the Rio Branco and Rio Negro Rivers in Brazil continue to rise.
“They have passed the worst in the sense that the water has receded. However, we can see a lot of homes were affected by this flood. We have a couple of families in the [Tabatinga Sports Complex] shelter,” he said.
Nevertheless, residents in Sand Creek and Gunns Strip were thankful for the assistance they received from the CDC.
“I think that is what people expect in a time of disaster, that the Government, whether it is Central Government or Regional Government, can quickly offer whatever relief efforts to help them to deal with the difficult situation that they are in right now,” Phillips added.
In addition, the CDC Director General explained that the floodwaters were high due to the rise in the water levels in the Ireng, Takutu and Rupununi Rivers.
The CDC has already established a shelter to house at least 36 people in Lethem. The regional authorities have also established shelters at the Tabatinga Sports Complex, Arapaima Primary School and Culvert City Nursery School.
Craig related that agriculture was mostly affected.
“The main impacts are the farmlands. What we have observed too because of heavy rainfall, some of the homes, the walls because of the type of structure, became saturated and a few of them collapsed.
But the waters are receding in most of the communities, but what you find because of the saturation of the soil from the long period, it has an impact on cassava and other crops. So, what the farmers are doing, they are now harvesting very early and they are trying to make farine and cassava bread et cetera for their families.”
Amerindian Affairs Minister, Pauline Sukhai also engaged residents of Tabatinga who are affected by the flood and assured them that the Government will continue to support them during the difficult times.
In total, 12 villages have already benefited from relief hampers. These include Shea, Aishalton, Baitoon and Katoonarib.
Some 2600 food hampers have been prepared. Of that sum, 2300 have been handed over to the region.
Some 300 of the hampers were purchased by the Regional Democratic Council (RDC). The CDC has also procured 2000 sanitation hampers to be distributed in Region Nine.
The water purification tablets and locally-made cloth masks that were also promised by the CDC have also been provided to the region.
Meanwhile, the Prime Minister took the opportunity to encourage residents to get inoculated against COVID-19.
“I ask all the people from all the communities to come forward and take the vaccine. We expect them to continue to observe the COVID-19 measures but more particularly, to come forward and take the vaccine because we have enough vaccines.
We have adequate vaccines in the region for all the communities and we want all the people to come forward and take the vaccine.”
The Prime Minister was accompanied by Minister Deodat Indar, Minister Pauline Sukhai and other Government officials.