Support Village Voice News With a Donation of Your Choice.
By Svetlana Marshall
Guyana is set to receive US$30,000 ( GYD$ 6,280,971) from the U.S Government to aid in its flood relief efforts, Clinton White – the United States Agency for International Development Eastern and Southern Caribbean Mission (USAID/ESC) Regional Representative announced on Wednesday.
“In response to the flooding, the United States Government through USAID is providing an immediate US$30,000 in humanitarian assistance – US$15,000 is going to the Guyana Red Cross for the local purchase and the transportation of relief hampers including cleaning and personal hygiene kits and an additional US$15,000 is going to assist the CDC in the transportation of relief items to priority regions,” White told journalists.
The USAID/ESC Regional Representative made the announcement alongside US Ambassador Sarah-Ann Lynch during a press conference at Roraima Duke Lodge on Wednesday.
White, who is here in Guyana on a five-day visit, said USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, together with the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and other organisations, is keenly monitoring the flood situation.
According to the CDC, more than 30,000 households in 300 communities across Guyana are severely affected by the floods. Just days ago, President Irfaan Ali declared flooding a National Disaster in Guyana.
White told journalists that the situation underscores the importance for there to be continued efforts at tackling Climate Change.
Earlier on Wednesday, USAID together with the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) opened a Climate Change Symposium.
He said the symposium, which will run until June 30, creates another opportunity to talk about the existential problem and find solutions.
“The impact of Climate Change in the Region is huge, personally, environmentally, and economically. Such cause affect the country’s competitiveness in international tourism, agriculture and other [sectors] thereby reducing employment and income in these sectors of the economy,” White said.
With 90 percent of Guyana’s population residing in the low–lying coastal regions, he said Guyana remains at risk of sea level rise and coastal flood impacts. He said it is a risk not only to the urban centers located along the coast but also to the agriculture and natural environment.
The USAID/ESC Regional Representative said the Joe Biden Administration has made Climate Change in the US a priority, and as such, USAID will be working with CARICOM including Guyana, and other donor partners in the region to put the world on a path to a sustainable future through ambitious actions on climate change.
“This morning, USAID and the Embassy here with the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre, the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology, and the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, all of us signed an important Memorandum of Understanding to build the Region’s awareness, preparedness, and develop action steps to counter the impacts of Climate Change,” White disclosed.
Turning his attention to the ongoing Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) pandemic, White said that the US, through USAID, has funded over US$3M in new activities to aid the COVID-19 health response in the region. According to him, the funding is helping health institutions, communities and organisations to prevent and control COVID-19 infections while providing clinical hygiene and medical supplies, in addition to supporting public health information campaigns.
USAID has also donated US$1.5M to PAHO and UNICEF to support the COVAX approved vaccine readiness and delivery in the region including Guyana.
As part of his visit, White has also reaffirmed USAID’s partnership with CARICOM, and Guyana. He said USAID will soon launch its new Country Development Cooperation Strategy 2020-2025 with emphasis on economic growth, citizens’ security, education, energy and climate change.
The US Ambassador, in her address, iterated the Biden Administration’s commitment to tackling Climate Change.
“…the Joe Biden Administration has made it clear to entire world that the US is committed to climate action and placing climate change at the center of US foreign policy, diplomacy as well as national security,” Ambassador Lynch said.
However, she underscored the importance of cooperation in this regard. “Advances in this area will, however, require strong international cooperation from partners like those we have in the Caribbean,” the US Ambassador added, while noting that the Climate Change Symposium is taking place at a critical time.
Reflecting on the contributions made, Ambassador Lynch said this year, Guyana and USAID will celebrate 60 years of partnership.
“In my time here, I have received the profound impact of the US-Guyana partnership in areas as diverse as health, governance, environment and economic growth as making a sustainable difference in Guyana’s development,” she said while noting that a bright future lies ahead for Guyana.