Consultations continue for Social Cohesion Ministry’s five- year strategic plan
GINA, GUYANA, Friday, November 11, 2016
The Ministry of Social Cohesion yesterday held its 28th Regional Sensitisation and Strategic Plan consultations with stakeholders in Rockstone, Region 10.
These consultations are geared towards preparing the Ministry’s Five-Year Strategic Plan (2017- 2021) for promoting and enhancing social cohesion in Guyana.
Coordinator in the Ministry of Social Cohesion, Sharon Patterson said that the primary purpose for undertaking these consultations is to develop a strategic plan that will inform social cohesion in Guyana.
The Coordinator said that young people are very important to the drafting of the plan. “We are attempting to meet with young people through media and online activity because they play a key role in the process, and the consultations have been rewarding so far with the regions and communities we have visited.”
Patterson explained to the Government Information Agency (GINA), that five themes/outcomes came out of a round table discussion that took place in September. The five themes are the guidelines on which the consultations are being held.
Patterson explained the five outcomes and the objectives. She named economic equity and opportunities as one, saying that by 2021 persons belonging to different race groups, unemployed youth, low-wage workers in mining, agriculture and other sectors, should feel less economically unequal to others.
Outcome Two-Citizen Safety and Security relates to safety for communities. Residents should feel safer and there should be a lessening of tension, personal, ethnic, racial and criminal insecurity among all groups.
Outcome Three- Social inclusion and tolerance- states that persons belonging to groups such as those with disabilities, the aged and infirm, homeless and indigent groups, persons from the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and other minorities should feel equal to others and the discrimination and exclusion that they may feel should be reduced.
Outcome four- Inclusive and participatory Governance-relates to persons in communities having a better understanding of the Constitution, the system of Government and institutions at national, regional and community levels and should be more involved and have more confidence in the decisions taken that affect individuals and communities.
Outcome five deals with harmonious ethnic and racial relations. The ministry is hopeful that by 2021, they would like to see a clear improvement in relations and interactions among the various ethnic and race groups in Guyana, and a positive appreciation of the cultural diversity of different groups at the national and community levels.
The consultations are being supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Dr. Thomas Gittens, the ministry’s consultant is leading the process. Dr. Gittens said that apart from leading the consultations process, he is also tasked with drafting the plan.
The residents were placed in groups under the guidance of the five themes/ outcomes. They were asked to discuss among themselves and then make presentations on the points they would have agreed upon.
With regards outcome one – Economic equity and opportunities, the residents said they have inadequate access to markets for their products. Land titling is also an issue, some residents have titles while some do not. For those who do not have titles, this prevents them from accessing loans at the banks. The residents also said that fishermen come into the community and take their fish away leaving them without any.
For outcome two-Citizen Safety and Security-this area was a major concern for the residents of Rockstone. It was noted that there has been some incidents of theft in the community. The residents that were present said that, “they need an equipped police outpost and cell phone signal; because in the event that a crime takes place they would have to travel to Linden to make reports.
Under outcome four-Inclusive and participatory Governance- residents pointed out that a feeding programme is needed for the children, as well as a playground. The issue of transportation for school children was also raised, it was noted that there is a bus in the community that could transfer children to and from schools, however they would like help with fuel.
Social Cohesion in a local context-‘is a process of nurturing individuals and community relationships in building a unified country,’
Some 28 consultations, conversations, small groups meetings, focus groups and community meetings have been conducted in all 10 administrative regions and municipalities across Guyana.
On Saturday, the Ministry will be taking the consultations to Rosignal and the final one will take place on November 15, 2016 at Kwakwani.
By Gabreila Patram