– to prevent suffering in the event of drought
A reservoir which will enable residents to have adequate supplies of water in times of drought was officially handed over on Saturday to the Region Nine (Upper Takutu/ Upper Essequibo) community.
Minister of Natural Resources, Raphael Trotman told the gathering that the reservoir, which was completed in approximately six months, should be used as a medium to enhance the livelihood of Rupununi residents.
The reservoir, which has the capacity to hold 4.5 million cubic meters of water, is located on Nappi lands in the Rupununi. It was completed in 2017.
It was constructed after the Rupununi area suffered a severe drought back in 2015/2016, drastically affecting the livelihood of the residents.
Minister Trotman emphasised that the catchment area is part of government’s commitment to ensuring the residents are never so adversely affected by a drought again.
The new reservoir was designed by JR Ranch Incorporated and is buttressed by a 450-metre dam.
The Natural Resources Minister lauded the company for a phenomenal job and encouraged the residents to use the water for drinking purposes, aquaculture processing, and agriculture to assist nearby communities.
“That water is clean and can be consumed not just by residents but by the animals also. It is meant to be used to transform your lives… it is yours, you will decide how you will use it for your joint and equal benefits….Don’t see this as another project being handed over, it is time you stand up and start taking care of it.”
Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, who also echoed the sentiments of Minister Trotman, urged the residents to take up the responsibility of managing the reservoir. He lauded the initiative that will provide much needed relief to the residents, as he recalled the devastating 2015/2016 drought.
“We now have water here… (two years ago) when there was the severe drought, there was a call for the access of water to the village. And because water is life, we started drilling deep wells with limited financial resources and assistance from Brazil and today we have this reservoir.”
The Minister encouraged the residents to draft their “Village Improvement Plan” which would enable them to better manage the reservoir.
The water catchment area is a public-private partnership between the government and Cataleya Energy Limited. The project was proposed by the Ministry of Natural Resources and funding, $1.2M, was provided by Cataleya Energy Limited. JR Ranch Incorporated was hired to construct the reservoir while Conservation International designed the programmes for the usage, upkeep and maintenance of the water catchment area.
Conservation International’s (CI) Technical Director, Curtis Bernard, while addressing future plans, said there will be meetings over the next two months with residents and stakeholders to discuss management of the reservoir.
He noted that the management design for the catchment area coincides with the plans for regional and by extension national development.
“If by building the reservoir the village is worse off because other things in the environment are not working, then that’s not the plan. It must improve your livelihood, so the ministry is collaborating with CI to help you develop your management plan. We will also work to ensure that the ecological aspects of the catchment area are fine.”
Ryan Pereira from Cataleya Energy Limited, in brief remarks stated the reservoir will significantly reduce vulnerability to drought and other natural hazards, not only in Nappi, but also surrounding communities.
“My hope is that it achieves and even exceeds its purpose by also helping to build social and economic resilience in the villages. I hope it helps with agriculture and tourism industries,” Pereira said.
Also in attendance at the event was Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs Valerie Garrido-Lowe who presented books and sports gear to the residents.
(A DPI feature)
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