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The Irfaan Ali Administration would be issuing direct cash transfers particularly to the farmers and residents, in an effort to cushion the impact of the recent floods, which ravaged approximately 300 communities across Guyana.
President Irfaan Ali made the announcement on Saturday, July 31, 2021 during an address to the nation. The funds, which will go directly to those hardest hit by the floods, form part of the $10B supplementary provision which was approved by the National Assembly earlier this year.
“Whilst some large farmers where severely affected, especially in rice and poultry, the ceiling of assistance will not exceed $10M for individual farmers,” the Head of State disclosed.
He said based on data collected by the Government, approximately 52,000 households were affected in three primary categories – homestead farmers, kitchen garden, and household exclusive of farms or gardens. According to him, some 92,000 acres of farm and farmlands have been completed affected while losses in the Sugar Industry was amounted to over $1.5B.
In these categories, farmers within the context of a homestead would receive $100,000 each, those with kitchen gardens will receive $50,000 each and household’s excluding homestead and kitchen garden will receive 50,000 each. According to President Ali, the combined assistance to homestead farmers, kitchen gardens and households for these categories will be in excess of $3.5B.
He said the Rice Sector also suffered heavily with approximately 50,000 acres and 2,000 farmers directly affected. As such, farmers, who had harvested their rice but suffered losses due to the floods, will receive $80,000 per acre while for rice sowed and lost in the autumn crop, those farmers will receive $65,000 per acre. For land that was completely prepared but was not sowed, $45,000 per acre would be given to each farmers.
In addition, to this support, 60,000 bags of seed paddy would be made available. The combined assistance in these four categories would be in excess of $3.2B.
Further, assistance in the livestock industry has been divided into four categories – subsistence farmers, small farmers, medium farmers, and large-scale farmers. Some 2,000 farmers were affected in these categories.
“In total, these four categories will benefit in excess of $600M direct transfers. In addition to these direct transfers, the Ministry of Agriculture and GLDA will be assisting through genetic improvements, drainage and irrigation works, technical support, and extension services to the approximate value of $500M,” the President said.
The cash transfers are intended to help farmers and residents to return to some level of normalcy.
“In addition to this support, ongoing infrastructural works will continue to rebuild damns, farm-to-market access roads, Hinterland roads, mining roads, community roads, drainage systems, and other infrastructure that were destroyed or deteriorated during the floods,” the President said.
The floods, which were as a result of unprecedented rainfall, spanned from April-June 2021. In May alone, Guyana experienced its second highest rainfall in 40 years.
Aside from the Agriculture Sector, the over 50 percent of mining operations were affected, as mining communities were cut-off as a result of infrastructural damage. Initial assessment estimates rehabilitation work in excess of $1B for the mining community, President Ali said.
“Initial estimate points to approximately $23B or more in loss of production,” he said while adding that “damage to the Forestry Sector, loss of production and damage to equipment is estimate at an excess of $8B.”
During the initial stage of the flood, the Government, President Ali said, sprang into action to save lives, protect livelihood, secure health services, and ensure enough food and shelter to satisfy the needs of the people.
“These efforts saw the distribution of more than 80,000 food hampers, 45,000 cleaning hampers, and more than 5000 medical kits across all 10 administrative regions. More than 10 shelters were established, and extensive support was given to farming communities.
More than 100 pumps and hundreds of excavators were deployed all across the country to support communities and farmers. In addition to this, the Government deployed an extensive fleet of machinery to support regions and communities in their efforts. The structure to manage the flood included a Cabinet task force, a multi-stakeholder national emergency operation centre and 10 regional emergency operation centres,” he pointed out.
The total, socio-economic impact assessment is currently being examined by UN ECLAC.
President Ali said Government is working aggressively to develop a national drainage plan in the context of climate change so as to mitigate further climate events and disasters.
He also used the opportunity to express gratitude to the diaspora, international agencies, and friends in the CARICOM community and elsewhere for their support. “I especially would like to thank the Ministry of Agriculture, the CDC, and all the other sectors that worked long beyond the call of duty to bring relief,” President Ali said.
Suriname and Brazil had also experienced severe flooding.