Poor health facilities, lack of job opportunities among issues affecting Baracara residents
By Andrew Carmichael
Poor health facilities and the lack of adequate infrastructure for those in the agriculture sector are some of the major issues affecting residents of the riverine community of Baracara in Region Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
The community of fewer than 500 inhabitants is also being plagued with a lack of job opportunities, especially for the youth population.
Situated 52 miles up the Canje River, Baracara is the only Maroon village in Guyana. The village is equipped with a health centre and a secondary school, and the residents there are of the view that the services being offered by the Baracara Health Centre is below the standard that should be offered.
Earla Caesar told this publication that since the medic left early last year, the medical supplies have been reduced to the extent where it is considered insufficient.
“We are not getting enough drugs (medication), and when anybody get sick, we have to take them to New Amsterdam, because they don’t have enough drugs here for the patients. So, we need more drugs in the Health Centre,” she said.
Caesar noted that the Baracara Health Centre is staffed with health workers and a midwife who is in training.
Village Chairman Eustace Joseph emphasised the urgent need for medical supplies at Baracara, saying that the situation has been existing for close to two years.
Meanwhile, with some 100 residents living at Acura, 12 miles further up the river, the lack of adequate health facilities is even worse for them. Joel Thomas related that diarrhoea and vomiting are common during the rainy season. He noted that the only medical service available to them is at Baracara.
Access to those communities is possible only by boat.
Meanwhile, the residents of Baracara are calling on the Government to intervene and provide needed assistance in the agriculture sector.
According to Carlene Joseph, insects are rampant and cause extensive damage to crops.
“Also, the animal owners would leave their cows, sheep and goats in the savannah, but they would come into our farms.”
She pointed out the difference in the size of some of her sucker plants as proof that some had been attacked by animals. In fact, some were bearing and others were less than two feet in height.
“That is because the sheep, goats and cows come and eat then. So, we are asking the Government if they can come in and dig the canal where they are staying, so that the cows can live in the pasture and not come out to eat our things, because we are going to punish if they do this,” she explained.
Meanwhile, Thomas, who is a cattle and cash crop farmer, explained that some of his cattle have died after experiencing neck swelling. He also pointed out that the lack of access to pesticides leaves them vulnerable to vegetable-eating insects.
Agriculture Minister Zulfikar Mustafa recently rolled out an anti-acushi ants program wherein acushi ants bait is being given to farmers in hinterland communities.
At Baracara, the ants are making farming a nightmare for residents. The chairman noted that on occasions an entire crop is destroyed by these ants.
However, Joseph, in focusing on the brighter side of things, has said he wants to see development in the community, of which more than half the population are considered youths.
“In Baracara, there are a set of young people without any jobs, so I would like to see this developed so that the young people can have jobs, because they are not doing anything. We do not have a payday in Baracara, because we do not have anywhere we can get jobs,” the Village Chairman explained.
However, he added that 24 persons are employed for 20 days each to cut the grass from the edges of the Canje River.
“We depend on the grass work and we do a little bit of farming,” he explained. But, as already pointed out, farmers there are faced with challenges. However, Joseph is of the view that there is scope for farming to be extended.
“But we need some assistance in the farm, because during the rain, our crops die out. If we can get some assistance with farming facilities, something to dig a canal so that we will be able to get into the back dam… During this rainy season, the road is terrible to go into the farm. So, if we can get a canal to go where we are farming, we will be grateful for that,” the Village Chairman appealed.