…residents plea for Govt’s assistanceVillages in north and south Rupununi, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo), are facing the harsh effects of the dry weather and are suffering from the loss of crops as a result of the occurrence of both shortages of water and grassfires.Residents who reached out to Guyana Times on Monday complained that they are suffering as a result of the dry season and are pleading with the Administration to offer any form of relief it can to help cushion the impact it is having on their livelihood.“We suffering for some aid man. Anything we can get. All our crops dry and what isn’t dried out, burn up with wildfires. Even the cassava dry can’t get anything from that. I hope they come in and help us. People suffering up here,” a businessman said.In an invited comment, Chairman of Region Nine, Bryan Allicock confirmed to this publication on Tuesday that residents are affected and in dire need of relief. He said that the villages faced with drought include those such as Katoka in central Rupununi and Katunarib and other villages in both north and south Rupununi.Allicock said that he received reports on Thursday last of the challenges those villages are facing and these issues were discussed with the head of the Guyana Water Inc, Dr Van West-Charles, and Natural Resources Minister Raphael Trotman who were in the region at that time.He explained that the villages that are experiencing severe drought are those that have hand-dug wells which have dried up. He went on to say that residents have tried digging deeper to no avail. Allicock said that nothing has yet materialised from his discussion with Trotman or Charles as he is still to receive an update on any relief effort planned for the region.Questioned about his discussions with Trotman and Charles, the Regional Chairman said that he was asked how much money the region has, however, he advised the officials that the region has no funds to deal with an emergency and he was told that they will see what they can do to offer some relief.Allicock said that their only other source of water in those areas is a river which is located a far distance from the villages and some residents are forced to walk at least four kilometres to get to the river for washing and other domestic purposes. The Regional Chairman further said that farms are also being affected as a result of the grassfires destroying their crops and if this weather persists, they will be needing aid in the form of food supplies.He added that the Village of Simoni has a drilled well and a few of the residents with access to motorbikes have been transporting water for drinking purposes, however, a large number of residents still remain without access.When Guyana Times contacted the Office of the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, it was related that the Permanent Secretary, Alfred King, could not offer a comment at the time. Contacted by this newspaper, Communications Officer Alethia Charles said she did not have the relevant information and could not comment on the situation and efforts to obtain a comment from either of the Ministers proved futile.
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