When people’s homes are under water; when their lives are disrupted because of floods; when they suffer losses because of inundation, there is bound to be high levels of frustration.
In such scenarios, it is often the practice of those affected, egged on by the “specialists” that we have in the media, to cast blame. This is in part a human reaction and even a rational reaction.
The blame game is not going to help the present situation. What is not needed also is a re-analysis of the causes of the flooding. What is equally not required is propaganda showing that other countries in the world are experiencing adverse weather conditions. What is needed is action, collective action.
Certain things, however, must be made clear. A national clean-up exercise which expends hundreds of millions of dollars is not a flood control plan.
A clean-up exercise will have some implications for drainage. Indeed, the government is right. There are a number of areas in the city where the water has receded despite the high levels of rainfall and this recession has been as a result of the improvement in run-off flow occasioned by the national clean-up campaign, of which only five hundred million has been allocated for Georgetown.
The second thing that needs to be made clear is that we must learn from what happened yesterday. The floods have exposed the vulnerability of certain areas of excessive accumulation and those areas should be identified and mapped so that action can be taken
What is needed, as stated, is action. The private sector has indicated that it is prepared to help and that help should be mobilized. A national flood relief committee should be established.
The first step should therefore be to establish this multi-stakeholder flood control committee. The second step should be to identify, almost immediately, the vulnerable areas where the water has either not receded or has been slow to recede. The third step is for an emergency plan to be developed.
The government may feel that this can be done by its personnel in the Ministry of Local Government and in the Ministry of Public Works. But it is best that this be done almost immediately by the national flood control committee.
With this emergency plan in place there will be a need to mobilize resources. One of the things that I have found with Guyana is that people are very willing if called upon to contribute to a national effort.
I know there are many farmers who would be willing, for example, to lend their tractors and pumping equipment to help pump water out of certain areas. There are miners who will do the same. This can be done almost immediately, but the private sector and other persons would be more willing to mobilize resources once they are part of a process.
The President has to do away with a certain style of management that was characteristic of his predecessor. He has to bring people on board, because what Guyana faces now and can face again during this rainy season is an emergency.
It is time for a broad-based national flood control committee to be established, one that will work with government and all stakeholders to bring immediate, medium- and long-term solutions to Guyana’s flooding woes.
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