Oct 20, 2015 Letters
I read time and time again [with disgust] the discomfort and inconvenience the population suffers as a result of poor water supply services offered by the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI).
This is compounded by the frequent public service announcements (either via the press or on social media) expressed by the company, advising on the disruption of services. Residents frequently complain about being without water service for days and I have also been recipient to this level of service as well. My question to GWI is what do they expect residents to do during these periods? There are also times (more often than GWI is willing to admit) water supply is disrupted for extended periods, with the most popular excuse given by GWI is due to voltage fluctuations.
It should be noted that having access to an adequate supply of safe water has been declared a human right by the United Nations, not so merely because access to water serves as a measure of human development, but because it’s a critical resource that protects human health and contributes to an improved living standard (inter alia). We did not even have to wait for the United Nations to make such a pronouncement to understand the importance of water supply (and Sanitation – A concept I will address at later date) to Guyana’s development. The absence of a safe and reliable source of water has far-reaching consequences that GWI needs to begin to appreciate and for which the burden rest on their shoulders.
GWI’s approach much change. While I know, through my long term relationship with GWI, efforts are constantly being employed at the lower tier of the organisation to improve service quality [cannot speak for the upper tier as I have not recognise any policy change in decades], the current organisational approach needs to go beyond its immediate mandate to just provide water and sanitation services and examine initiatives that can be introduced to ensure households have constant access to a safe source of water that meets their household demands on a daily basis.
It still baffles me as to why in this day and age [modern times] the reliability of a water supply (treatment plant or pump station) is directly dependent on the reliability of the [GPL’s] power supply. I guess GWI finds it to be a worthwhile excuse. This [inter alia] serves as indicators that the haphazard water supply service provided by GWI will continue in the foreseeable future, as such there may be the need for some policy changes, which can ensure households have water to meet their daily demands. One policy that can reduce the impact of the frequent disruptions in water supply is requiring each household to install water storage containers with a capacity for at least two days [yes this was previously done in Guyana]. Although this is already an informal policy with most households [those that can afford them] having the ‘black tanks’, a more unified service provision requirement advocated by GWI would allow households be prepared for unexpected disruptions and any adverse impacts. This approach is not new. Water storage policies have been adopted by many countries, with some even recommending rainwater harvesting. I know this will be a challenge for adaptation in Guyana due to our traditional approach in regarding most things essential as a “private matter”. However, GWI must get on board with the current purported concept and national commitment to “improving the quality of life” for all Guyanese. This cannot be achieved with the current operational practices, policies and water supply service provisions in Guyana. I implore the current management of GWI to truly think about the nature of their organisation and to devise innovate ways to tackle the age-old persistent problems that continue to plague the company, with a knock-on effects to us your customers.
An advocate for adequate water supply and sanitation for all [especially in Guyana]
Darren D. Shako
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