White Water residents moved to tears – as President delivers keys to new homes

Georgetown, GINA, October 31, 2013

Twenty-three households in White Water, Region One received keys to their new homes today while 27 others had their roofs refurbished under the Ministry of Housing and Water’s second Low Income Settlement Programme (LIS-2).

            The close to $40M project was made possible through a collaborative effort of the Housing Ministry’s Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) after a study was conducted on the housing needs of the North West District village in 2009.

Mabaruma, Region One school children welcome President Donald Ramotar and Minister of Housing and Water Irfaan Ali

            The beneficiaries, who contributed 60 percent of their labour and made employment opportunities possible for approximately 25 residents, are partly credited for the successful completion of the project.

            After the priorities were identified from the 2009 study, a design workshop was hosted the following year, where the building size specifications were defined.

 

The residents were then given autonomy to design the building of their choice, and it was discovered that the majority preferred wooden structures that were seven feet above ground level, with zinc roofs and patio.

Residents of White Water, Region One a few miles from Mabaruma welcome President Donald Ramotar and Minister of Housing and Water Irfaan Ali and team

The involvement of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and the respective Amerindian Village Councils and residents of the pilot communities were integral to the success of the programme.

The efforts of the villagers were enough to spur Minister Ali to insist that they take into consideration forming a group, and requisition to undertake works in the community and the wider Mabaruma district.

 

            Meanwhile, the aggregate number of individuals who would have been impacted by project is about 600, many of whom were previously living in dilapidated and oftentimes overcrowded settings.  White Water has a Warrau  population of 1,190.

President Donald Ramotar handing over a house key to a resident of White Water, Region One

            The majority of the beneficiaries who spoke with the Government Information Agency (GINA) were overjoyed at what they said was ‘a dream come true’. One resident fought tears as she explained what it means for her and the village.

 

            President Donald Ramotar who visited the village for the first time since becoming the country’s Head of State was honoured to hand over keys to the beneficiaries. He also visited the newly constructed and refurbished buildings in the company of Minister of Housing and Water Irfaan Ali, Region One Chairman, Paul Pierre and other officials of the region and the CHPA.

President Donald Ramotar and Minister of Housing and Water Irfaan Ali join residents of White Water, Region One at one of the newly constructed houses under the hinterland housing project

            He explained that the people of the hinterland have always been at the heart of the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) administration and deserve equal opportunities as every other Guyanese.

            He regarded the hinterland housing project as one of several initiated by his government over the last two decades to enhance the quality of life for citizens after undertaking the burdensome task of repairing a broken economy.

 

            The hinterland housing project is being piloted with the aim of providing affordable sustainable houses in eight communities in Regions One and Nine. In the Region One area the communities targeted are White Water, Manawarin and Oronoque while in Region Nine, Kwatamang, Central Annai, Massara, Katoka and Apoteri are the identified communities.

Residents of White Water in Region One showing off keys to their new homes

            The total number of houses to be covered under this programme is 208. Among them are 122 full houses measuring 20 by 25 ft, and 86 that will have their thatch roofs replaced with zinc sheets.  

Minister Ali was happy to report that the Housing Ministry has used up 85 percent of the second LIS loan, and that in White Water, over $37M has been invested to improve living conditions of residents.

A total of $200M has been budgeted for the hinterland housing programme and will add to the investments made to bring potable water to the hinterland. The homes handed over today for example have been designed to trap rain water. 

“In the last five years we have invested more than $2.9B in the hinterland water system… this project will help us to achieve that because of the change in the roof material that can now help you in the easy collection of rain water,” Minister Ali said.

A few years ago the Government procured Rotoplastic tuff tanks for free distribution to communities where the cost of providing water was either impossible or costly. Today, water coverage for hinterland communities is at 73 percent and this is expected to reach 80 percent in another two years.

Upgrades to hinterland airstrips is also on the cards but has suffered a major setback after the political opposition slashed the entire air transport sector allocation from the 2013 National Budget.

President Ramotar is still determined to have those funds restored, not only because of their importance to the maintenance of hinterland airstrips, but also because of the nature based tourism potential in those areas.

 

“Here in Guyana, we want to develop a new model (of tourism) so that most of the money would remain not only in our country, but remain in the community… more and more people are interested in the tourist product that we have… they want to feel a oneness with nature,” President Ramotar said.

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