Women's Issues In Guyana

Red Thread blames decision-makers for ignoring flood recommendations

Posted in Politics by wiig on January 16, 2006
Tags: , , ,

-Says effects of 2006 floods could have been avoided

Kaieteur News – January 16, 2006

After the floods of January 2005, the Red Thread Organisation had requested to meet with authority figures and other representatives

Red Thread officials said the intention was to provide an insight into steps that could be implemented to ensure there was no repeat of the devastating effects of the flood.

The experiences of women from various flood-affected villages could have provided a considerable amount of information to reduce the effects of the flood and restore life to its former glory.

Among the organisations and individuals Red Thread requested to meet were President Bharrat Jagdeo, Opposition parliamentary members, Parliamentary Sectoral Committee on Economic Services, the UN Representative Youseff Mahmoud, Guyana Red Cross, Guyana Council of Churches, Trade Union Congress, Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana and Guyana Relief Council’s Yvonne Hinds.

However, to date the organisation has only been able to meet with opposition executives including PNC/R, WPA and ROAR, and UN Representative, Youseff Mahmoud.

Red Thread had organised a “Speak-Out” on March 13, 2005 to address the concerns of flood-affected villagers who felt their voices were unheard.

One of the issues raised was the need for national debt forgiveness from all utility companies and lending agencies, including “…the cancellation of debts for goods and equipment damaged and destroyed in the flood especially the debts to hire-purchase firms, IPED and commercial banks,” Red Thread had said.

The group petitioned the government to negotiate with GT&T, GPL and GWI on behalf of the people.

It also demanded a full explanation on how international relief donations were utilized and intentions on how and when the remainder would be used.

The women’s group demanded urgent information about the contamination of soil and immediate action to clean schools from flies and mosquitoes.

In addition, it called for replacement of school books and uniforms, and an investigation into why the flood was so impacting. The proposals were not without recommendations, chief among them being that high ranking officials must be punished for misdeeds.

A flood analysis report presented by Red Thread Thursday stated that only the Alecia Foundation, which published a summary of its accounts, and Red Cross, which had partial information on its website, provided information on how monies were spent. The report said that animals were treated by the Ministry of Agriculture but no soil analysis was done.

A group of women, both kitchen garden and large-scale farmers, complained of fallow soil which failed to turn out marketable crops.
They contended that since the 2005 floods they tried to replant but that the soil is not the same. “The boras are brown, ochroes grow curly, the sweet peppers are tiny and the plants have pest and grow withery,” one farmer told Kaieteur News Thursday.

According to Red Thread, fogging was done in Georgetown and some East Coast communities, examinations were postponed, and textbooks and other school items replaced. However there was no public investigation into why exactly the floods happened, though a team of engineers was assigned by government to examine the situation, Red Thread posited.

“Everybody was putting forward their own theories about drainage and conservancy breaches but there was nothing clear and definitive,” a Red Thread official said. Red Thread became involved in the flood alleviation after learning that several members were trapped inside their homes. “We found pregnant women, children, elderly and disabled people and since we are based in Charlestown we decided to conduct a need assessment for these categories of vulnerable people,” the official added.

“People started to pour into Red Thread for help but we taught them how to organise and independently represent themselves to get what they needed,” the official said.

Since then, the organisation has worked with 27 flood-hit communities along Guyana’s eastern corridor. The officials are concerned that the flood situation will continue unabated if authorities refuse to heed vital warnings. As the sea level continues to rise, East Coast villagers are fearful that they will soon have to relocate to a different section of the country.


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