Community Service Officers to be Trained in Water System Management
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was on Wednesday, March 2, signed between the Ministries of Housing and Water and Amerindian Affairs, for the training of Community Service Officers in the Operation and Maintenance of Water Supply Systems in Hinterland communities.
The MoU was signed by Permanent Secretaries of the Ministries of Housing & Water and Amerindian Affairs, Andre Ally and Ryan Toolsiram respectively, in GWI’s Boardroom.
At least two Community Service Officers will be identified from each Amerindian community that has an existing GWI water supply system, to operate and maintain the system in their respective communities.
Minister of Housing and Water, Hon. Collin Croal told the media that the signing of the MoU signals Government’s commitment to the development of all Guyanese, by ensuring opportunities are available for persons to acquire skillsets to be gainfully utilized, regardless of where in Guyana they reside.
Minister Croal noted that the training programme for CSOs will help to address the challenge of finding resources and personnel for the management and maintenance of water systems in far flung Regions. Therefore, this activity he said, emphasizes the Ministry’s commitment in ensuring technical repairs are addressed in real time to ensure a continuous supply of water to residents.
Part of the training would entail the operation of a new PAT drilling rig, which was recently acquired by GWI. It is scheduled to commence drilling in the community of Swan, followed by Kaikan then Moruca.
The Minister noted that there is a macro plan for the delivery of potable water countrywide, since there is under 60% access in the Hinterland. He therefore noted that with this robust programme, 100% access is envisaged by 2025.
This means that to have full water coverage for Regions 1, 7, 8, 9 and riverain coastland communities, 146 new wells would be required.
Since Government took office, close to $1B was expended for intervention in water delivery and this year 30 wells are earmarked to be drilled.
Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Hon. Susan Rodrigues, who was also present at the signing ceremony, said the collaboration among the agencies will result in benefits for the CSOs as well as the communities, GWI and by extension, the Ministry.
She noted that often times, visits are made to communities with simple water issues, which escalate due to poor maintenance. “So if we have permanent trained people to maintain, the life expectancy of the system will be extended”, Minister Rodrigues reasoned.
Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Hon. Pauline Sukhai reiterated that the PPP/C Government has committed to ensuring that the Hinterland benefits from an ongoing supply of potable water.
Minister Sukhai highlighted that there are currently over 2000 participants in the CSO programme across the country and this year, it is expected to move to 2500.
The Amerindian Affairs Minister noted that the level of infrastructure in Amerindian communities continues to improve and there is need for human resource to take charge.
CEO of GWI, Mr. Shaik Baksh said Wednesday’s signing cements what GWI has been doing for the last 18 months since Government resumed office, which is building partnerships.
He explained that GWI also has partnerships with the Ministries of Public Works and Education, as well as UNICEF, the latter which will be funding part of the training for CSOs.
“As infrastructure is built across the country, including Hinterland, we have to ensure that communities, NDCs and RDCs are involved in the caring of the infrastructure”, Mr. Baksh said.
He noted that the training will be comprehensive and robust and will include hygiene best practices.
Training programmes for CSOs commence on Thursday, March 3 in Region 9 and would not only feature the theory aspect but will also be heavily focused on the practical side.