– no rainfall in last 16 weeks
The extreme dry weather occasioned by El Niño has taken a heavy toll on a number of Indigenous communities, with reports emerging of livestock perishing in the Region Nine community of Anaputa.
This is according to the Regional Executive Officer (REO), Carl Parker. He noted that the hardest hit area has been North Rupununi and Anaputa, outside of Annai. He stated that agriculture teams have been dispatched to the area and he expects a full report on the effects of the drought.
He also identified the South Pakaraimas as a sore point, flagging communities such as Paipang, Taushida, Tiger Pond and Tipuru as targets. In the North Pakaraimas, he identified communities such as Annai, Masara, Toka and Anwera.
“We will have to prioritise, but we will identify the hardest hit communities,” he said yesterday. “The Civil Defence Commission (CDC) has been sending water pumps and tanks. (But) we are ready and we are cognisant of the situation.”
It is also understood that the Risk Reduction Management Centre and the CDC have provided a number of 450-gallon water tanks and water pumps to aid in water distribution.
In addition, water purification tablets, one-gallon water bottles and water pumps are being sourced.
Meanwhile, information released by the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, indicates that there has been little to no rainfall in the Rupununi over the last 16 weeks.
It is understood that ponds have dried up, while shallow hand-dug wells are either low on water or have gone completely dry. In some places the rivers have also dried up due to the scorching heat and zero rainfall.
In particular, Kaieteur News understands that the crossing at Yupukari has become so low that vehicles have been able to cross comfortably on the bed. According to the Deputy REO, this has never occurred in recent memory, while the Kurupukari River is at its all time lowest. Meanwhile, the crops are also a concern.
“The villages of Shea, Aishalton, Karaudarnauwa and Achawib are carefully monitoring their agricultural crops,” the Ministry said in a statement. “The village leaders have placed priority on the health and education sectors it terms of the water distribution plan.”
“In the South Pakaraimas, Yorong Paru, Paipang, Taushida, Tiger Pond and Rukumuta are experiencing grave difficulty. These communities are currently receiving support from the CDC and the village of Karasabai. Water is being transported in tanks from Karasabai with the assistance from the CDC.”
“In the North Rupununi the situation is somewhat more favourable. The Rupununi River still has a fair level of water. However, at Rewa and Crash Water crossings, the water has dried up. In the North Rupununi as in the Deep South, the Health and Education sectors are being given priority in the water distribution plan.”
“The South Central area has been without rainfall for at least 13 weeks. The Rupununi River has partially dried up. The Villages of Baitoon and Shulinab are carefully monitoring the water levels in their wells. River water is being used to supplement the scarce well water.”
“In the Central Rupununi district, the situation is appreciably better. Although low, water levels in the wells are still adequate for the villages’ needs. However, the threat to agricultural crops is worrying.”
“The villages of: Nappi, Kumu, Moco Moco, Simonie, Marcanata continue to ration their water supplies. The Kumu and Moco-Moco creeks are fast drying up; the Kumu Falls has already run dry.”
According to the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, some measures have been put in place in a bid to address the mounting crisis, including public awareness campaigns on water conservation and health concerns.
It is also collecting periodic reports from Regional Councillors, Community Health Workers and Village Toshaos at Lethem regarding the situation in the villages. Regional health authorities and Agriculture extension officers have also been put on high alert
Differently-able and senior citizens are being carefully monitored and are the subject of frequent reports.
In addition to increased efforts by Village leaders to prevent any poisoning of creeks, streams and rivers while fishing, bathing in creeks has now been prohibited in the drought-hit areas.
“The Guyana International Mission has commenced work on the construction of 15 wells in the North Rupununi District. This is a humanitarian effort by the Full Gospel Fellowship, a charitable group based in Region One working to bring much needed relief to the residents of Region Nine.”
“The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs has recommended that the water harvesting project at the J.R Ranch at Manari in the Central Rupununi District be studied with a view to replicating it for the benefit of Indigenous Villages and communities in the Region.”
Villages have also been cleaning and increasing the depth of hand dug wells, while plans are being formulated to address possible food shortage in the event of a further prolonged dry spell.
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