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Guyana: US Navy donates food supply for flood-affected hinterland villages

Govt. Guyana
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Georgetown, GINA, September 8, 2010

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai today received a donation of 50,000 high-nutritional meals from the United States, through the US Embassy, to be distributed to flood-affected hinterland villages. The meals were transported to Guyana via the HSV Swift, a naval ship, which docked Guyana's shores last month.

At a simple handing over ceremony at the Amerindian Hostel, Princes Street, Minister Sukhai said that the donation is very timely as several Amerindian villages are facing difficulties due to heavy and concentrated rainfall over a very short period, particularly in Regions Seven and Eight.

She noted that the cost of airlifting food supplies to those remotes areas is extremely high and as such the minimum support that is being extended to the affected residents is basic.

The Minister said that forging partnerships has always played a vital role in the country's national development and that Guyana's relationship with the US is no exception.

"The Amerindian Affairs Ministry is moving from being just a facilitator to executing programmes and projects for the Indigenous population as they seek to secure their livelihood and lift their communities to the next level," Minister Sukhai said.

Apart from the donation of food supplies, the US Navy Construction Battalion took to enhancing the environs of the Hostel as well extensive plumbing and electrical works in the buildings.

Charge'd Affaires Thomas Pierce said that docking of the Naval Ship is part of the Southern Partnership Station's annual deployment exercise to the Caribbean and Latin America. It is aimed at enhancing the information sharing between the US and partner nations on security cooperation issues. It also involves exchanges with navies, coast guards, and civilians of both the US and partner countries.

"In recognising Amerindian Heritage we are reminded of the core values that we seek to promote jointly, that is equality and mutual respect for differences, whether its race, culture or religion. We value the diversity that we have together and we address issues of concern," Pierre said.

He said that the meals that will be distributed through the Amerindian Affairs Ministry, meet the nutritional requirements for physical health and mental capacity.

"These meals are designed to provide sustenance to vulnerable populations during emergencies that disrupt food security," Pierre added.

The meals were provided by Project Hand Clasp, a non-profit, humanitarian organisation that works in partnership with the US Navy.

Additionally, the Navy officers are also conducting projects with the Ministries of Health and Education. The ship is also expected to visit Barbados, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Jamaica, Nicaragua, Panama and Suriname.

On September 06, Minister Sukhai accompanied by Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Kellawan Lall and technical officers from their respective ministries conducted a Cabinet mandated assessment of the flood affected areas of Paramakatoi and Kato in Region Eight and Karasabai, Region Nine.

All three areas reported that their food supplies were at critically low levels, since their main subsistence crop, cassava, used to produce farine, their staple, has been completely destroyed by the floods. They also complained of a serious rodent infestation.

Residents were assured that even though the prevailing weather patterns were beyond anyone's control and a result of climate change, no effort will be spared in bringing some measure of relief to them.

Prior to the Ministerial visit, food supplies valued $1.5M were dispatched to aid the residents of North and South Pakaraima, Region Nine, which have been waterlogged for almost six weeks.

However, Government's overall relief effort since the El Nino period goes beyond $43M. Additionally, the Agriculture Ministry will be providing assistance to revitalise farming in the affecting communities.