–over 1,600 residents receiving first-time, improved access

A PARADIGM shift in the way residents access potable water in the hinterland is evident as the Guyana Water Incorporated (GWI) continues to make strides in improving the livelihoods of residents there, as it relates to the supply of water. The utility’s most recent achievement is the commissioning of a $15M water supply system at St. Ignatius, in Central Rupununi, on Saturday.

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Some 175 residents in that Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) community, located approximately 10 minutes from Lethem, gained first-time access to potable water, while some 1500 residents gained improved hours and level of service.
Previously, residents accessed water from hand-dug wells or the Moco Moco Creek, but with this project funded by GWI and the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), they now have access to water on their premises.

The new water supply system comprises a well drilled to a depth of approximately 321 feet, the installation of transmission and distribution mains, and in excess of 35 service connections, including to schools and dormitories. It was executed by GWI, in collaboration with the community, and is powered by the Lethem Power Company.

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The system is the fifth to be commissioned in Region Nine within the last three weeks. During the weekend of November 23 and 24, GWI commissioned the Yupukari, Kaicumbay, and Moco Moco Water Supply Systems, and on Saturday, November 30, 2019, the Sand Creek Water Supply System.

Delivering remarks at the commissioning ceremony last Saturday, GWI Managing Director, Dr Richard Van West-Charles highlighted that in the past, though wells were drilled in Region Nine, citizens had to walk some distance to access the water.

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Since then, he said, GWI has changed its approach and is now running distribution networks to homes, whereby persons can either access water outside of their residences or connect them into their homes. This, he said, is part of the good life spoken about by President David Granger.

According to him, in 2019, GWI was able to complete the drilling of 22 wells in various regions. These include wells at Shulinab and Meriwau in Region Nine, in Region Seven (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), and Amelia’s Ward in Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Berbice). He pointed out that GWI is delivering first-time access to potable water in many unknown communities, thanks to the astute leadership of President Granger, whose mandate of bridging the gap between the hinterland and coastland is being executed.

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The investment of the Government was also highlighted, but more specifically, the Managing Director spoke of the almost G$300M provided to GWI for the purchase of two rigs, one of which will be used in the hinterland.

Further, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the government and GWI have pooled resources to purchase the necessary equipment to provide guidance on the ideal location for the drilling of wells and the required depth. A maintenance truck has also been procured, and will assist in cleaning wells at a faster rate.

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Dr. Van West-Charles also dwelt on the importance of water quality, saying that he does not want a repeat of the occurrence of children and the elderly dying from water-borne diseases. He said that the GWI is working towards having servicemen in every community to test the water quality on a monthly basis.

These results will not only be provided to the respective village councils but the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) as well. He also noted that GWI’s office in Lethem is equipped with a water quality laboratory where testing is also done.

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According to him, GWI plans to continue working in collaboration with RDCs and village councils. He assured that residents in Region Nine can depend on the service GWI provides and the company will respond very quickly to any concerns. He thanked the toshao, council and villagers of St. Ignatius for their support in the execution of the project.

Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally told the gathering that the government believes that if the people in Georgetown can be exposed to good education, improved health services and water running through their taps among other things, then the Hinterland residents should also be able to experience that.

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She said that there has been vast improvement in the hinterland and of this she is proud. Minister Ally specifically noted that she is happy that St. Ignatius has gone past the stage of having shallow wells, and

congratulated Dr. Van West-Charles and his entire staff for a job well done.
Regional Executive Officer (REO) of Region Nine Carl Parker said that the RDC is cognisant of the challenges that the residents face during the dry season, but thanks to GWI, that is now a thing of the past. He said that the RDC will now be able to reduce the pollutants in the creek, and preserve it for other purposes, such as recreational ones.

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Toshao of St. Ignatius, Dennis Benedict said that the water supply system in his community is a demonstration of the commitment of the government to the people. He said the supply of water has always been a challenge during the prolonged dry season. Further, he pointed out that water security has been a challenge in many other communities in the region, despite the many rivers and creeks.

The establishment of the well, he said, will meet the social and health needs of the people of St. Ignatius. Benedict assured that the community will ensure that the well is maintained and serves its purpose.

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In the near future, several other water supply systems located in areas such as Karasabai and Aishalton – Region Nine, Campbelltown and Paramakatoi – Region Eight and Ituni – Region 10, are scheduled to be commissioned. This in keeping with GWI’s goal to provide clean water for all Guyanese by 2025, five years earlier than that set out in Sustainable Development Goal Number 6.

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