–over 1000 residents to tap potable water for the first time

SATURDAY, November 30, 2019, was a historic day for the people of Sand Creek in the South-Central District of Region 9, as the first Water Supply System in the village was commissioned, signalling first-time access to potable water in the homes of more than 1000 residents.

The $25M Water Supply System, which is located approximately two-and-a-half hours from the Region Nine (UpperTakutu-Upper Essequibo) town of Lethem, was funded by the Government of Guyana, Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI), and the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO) and executed by GWI in close collaboration with the Sand Creek Village Council. It was declared open by Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock, and Minister of Communities Ronald Bulkan. Also in attendance were GWI Managing Director Dr. Richard Van West-Charles and other officials.

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The system is the fourth to be officially opened in just one week. During the weekend of November 23 and 24, GWI commissioned the Yupukari, Kaicumbay and Moco Moco Water Supply Systems, the water company said in a release.

The new Sand Creek system comprises a well, drilled to a depth of 236 feet, a photovoltaic system equipped with 18 solar panels, individual service connections, as well as standpipes at strategic locations throughout the village, five kilometers of transmission and distribution mains and two main trestles with four storage tanks each.

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Currently, the system supplies 95% of the community with direct access to potable water, including the schools, dormitory, health centre and sports ground. The remaining 5% of the community is scheduled to be connected to the system in 2020.  GWI has also conducted repairs to the sanitary blocks at the Sand Creek Health Centre, Primary and Secondary Schools and major upgrades to the plumbing systems at those facilities.

Further, 26 showers were installed for pensioners in the community, with several more to be done. Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Bulkan stated that access to safe water is important for the health and well-being of citizens, and to ensure that communities progress and realise their full developmental potential.

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Minister Bulkan emphasised that the provision of water provides the opportunity to transform livelihoods, noting that government is committed to improving the lives of all Guyanese, even as he highlighted President David Granger’s strategic plan to reduce the disparity between the hinterland and the coastland.

Minister Bulkan ceremonially turns on the tap as Minister Allicock fills a bottle to sample the water

Minister Bulkan also took the opportunity to reinforce that this Government is interested in realising development for all citizenry of Guyana, regardless of their political preferences.

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The Sand Creek Water Supply System, he noted, will make a big difference in the lives of the women who utilise water to do household chores as well as the rest of the family. His commendation was extended to the Board of Directors, Management and staff of GWI, PAHO, the Village Council and Regional Administration.

Meanwhile, Minister Allicock in his remarks to the gathering said that development comes when there is foresight. The system, he stated, was not done overnight but with constant planning and implementation. Healso noted that Sand Creek residents now have the convenience of easy access to water to satisfy their daily needs, even as he encouraged the residents not to give up on agriculture, while declaring that now is the time for food security.

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He also said that it is time to understand what it means to help Mother Nature, so that they can have continuity of water supply and a healthy ecosystem. He urged the residents to care for their water supply system.

Van West-Charles stated that it was in this community that GWI first utilised newly acquired technology to identify the depth of a well. He underscored the importance of cooperation to development as he highlighted the support GWI received from Toshao of Sand Creek, Mr. Maxie Pugsley and his Village Council, and by extension the residents.

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Further, he highlighted the roles played by the Regional Administration, Ministry of Communities, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA).

Dr. Van West-Charles explained that even before venturing into Sand Creek, a parent informed him of the challenges faced by students in Sand Creek with regard to water.

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Subsequently, GWI met with the Village Council and villagers, and the decision was made to construct the water supply system. Since then, GWI held three more meetings with the village so as to monitor works, update residents, and ensure the project was completed in a timely manner.

Turning his attention to the importance of water quality, he informed that testing will be done not only in Sand Creek, but all villages across the Hinterland. Sand Creek has two servicemen, who will be trained to use the water quality testing kits and develop the test results within the community. Due to the magnitude and complexity of their work, they will now be paid a salary rather than a stipend, as was agreed by the Board of GWI, Dr. Van West-Charles added.

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Additionally, a total of 12 residents from Sand Creek, Shulinab, Quiko, Kathur and Shiriri were trained in the management of small water supply systems and water quality, which will allow for the sustainability of the water supply systems in the respective communities. The Managing Director thanked the staff who worked tirelessly to complete the Sand Creek water system. PAHO/WHO Health Systems and Services Advisor, Dr. Paul Edwards pointed out that although PAHO is not generally a funding agency, the importance of the project prompted them to contribute. Water safety and water quality, he said, are fundamental to human development and well-being. He noted that providing access to potable water is one of the most effective instruments in promoting health and reducing poverty.

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Dr. Edwards noted that the right to enjoy the highest attainable standard of health is fundamental to a life of dignity. Health status, he stressed, reflects a broad range of determinants, which include access to good quality water, sanitation and a healthy environment. He highlighted the burden of diseases associated with poor quality water and lack of sanitation and hygiene as he expressed confidence that with the new water supply system, the occurrence of those diseases will be greatly reduced.

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Sand Creek Toshao, Mr. Maxie Pugsley, like many other residents, expressed gratitude to the Government for allowing history to take place in Sand Creek, particularly for pensioners who no longer have to dip water from the well, but even have their own showers.

Chairman of Region 9, Mr. Bryan Allicock also delivered remarks at the event, and noted that he welcomes any development in the Region. He commended GWI for the effort and interest shown in the Region, noting that 26 wells have been drilled since he has been at the helm of the Regional Administration. During the commissioning ceremony, GWI also handed over sporting equipment to the Sand Creek Football Club and Secondary School Football Team. Residents of the community were also awarded for their participation in the compilation of songs that speak to the new water system.

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Several other water supply systems, located in areas of Region Nine such as St. Ignatius, Karasabai and Aishalton; and Campbelltown and Paramakatoi in Region Eight (Potaro-Siparuni); and Ituni in Region Ten ( Upper Demerara-Berbice) are scheduled to be commissioned in the near future. This is in keeping with GWI’s goal to provide clean water for all Guyanese by 2025, a good five years earlier than the time-frame set out in Sustainable Development (SDG) Goal 6.

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