Saturday, February 7, 2009

Supporting our claim about weak governance

Supporting our claim about weak governance
February 7, 2009 | By knews | Filed Under Letters

Dear Editor,
While the Guyana Human Rights Association (GHRA) does not expect the Government of Guyana to be enthused by our pointing out the governance short-comings that caused the prolongation of recent floods, a more constructive response would have been appropriate.

Rather than challenge the failings we pointed out or take issue with the recommendations, Dr. Roger Luncheon, Head of the Presidential Secretariat chose to make sweeping attacks on the credibility of the GHRA, calling the statement “grossly inaccurate”. Indeed the only specific his statement refers to is that we referred to the National Emergency Organising ‘Committee’ as a ‘Council’.

While the GHRA’s interest lies in promoting discussion of its seven proposals to strengthen governance, Dr. Luncheon has obliged us to provide some of the specifics which establish the validity of our claim about weak governance. Since they are already in the public domain we list them in summary form.
The state of unpreparedness of the CDC for weeks after the flood occurred is well established.

Senior political figures rather than disaster relief and technical agencies determined the course of the flood response.
Insufficient warning to farmers in the Mahaica and Mahaicony Creeks of the intention to open the Maduni/Lama locks prevented them taking remedial actions.

The continued presence of illegal structures from the Greenfield reserve hampered de-silting operations.
Illegal structures on reserve lands threaten efficient drainage all over the coastal areas – witness Montrose last Easter from which no lessons seem to be learnt.

Efforts to remove the fishermen from the Greenfield koker outfall simply petered out when they refused to cooperate.

The koker at the head of the Ann’s Grove access road, renovated at the cost of $6 million, is a white elephant.

Many secondary D&I contracts have been awarded to groups and individuals without reference to NDCs or even the RDC.

Since 2007, changes in the manner of collecting rates and rents have weakened villages’ control over their backlands.

The governance recommendations set out in the statement are summarized as follows:
1. Communities should be systematically involved in all important decisions that affect them.

2. Local knowledge on D&I issues is frequently superior to external expertise and should be recognised as such.

3. The Civil Defence Commission should be de-centralised and should report to Parliament.
4. Compensation for agricultural losses should be far more systematic than that signified by an allocation of G$100 million.

5. Presentation of meteorological information in a modern graphic, user-friendly fashion should be priority in times of flood-threats.
Executive Committee

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