GINA, GUYANA, September 3, 2016
The first fifteen (15) families that will benefit from improved livability under the US$3.1M new Hinterland Housing Project will be from the community of Sebai, in the Matarkai Sub-District of Region One.
Five of the 15 selected will benefit from full house construction and the remainder from roof replacement.
The houses carry rainwater harvesting system, and the construction of improved pit toilets are also catered for. The houses are to be completed before the end of 2016.
Krishna James, Edward Ferreira, Patrick Atkinson, Phillip Atkinson and Delon Benjamin, were selected to benefit from the construction of full houses.
Jennifer Bennett and Godfrey Beharry, Jim Campbell, Leo Sandy and Diane Williams, Mark Williams, Midget Campbell, Stanley and Brenda Smythe, Vernan and Ursulla Rodrigues, Veronica George, Wilfred James and Devon James were selected for roof replacement.
These first beneficiaries were chosen following a visit to the village on Friday by Minister within the Ministry of Communities, Dawn Hastings-Williams, and representatives of the Central Housing and Planning Authority (CH&PA), including Senior Community Development Officer, Donna Bess-Bascom, representatives of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), including Housing and Urban Development Specialist, Patricio Zambrano-Barragán, and Region One Chairman, Brenthnol Ashley.
Village sanctions beneficiaries
The Minister and officials, first concluded meetings with the Village Council where they presented a shortlist of names, to be among the first 2016 beneficiaries of the project. The list was compiled by the CHPA, from a number of 65 applications submitted from the village to be a part of the project.
Based on the knowledge of the council, of the applicants, and their critical need for housing, that list was further modified, with some of the applicants being shortlisted for next year and some being moved from the full houses to the roof replacement categories and vice versa. The modified list was presented to the residents, in a later meeting, where it was given the nod of approval. As per the Amerindian Act, more than two-thirds of the meeting attendees agreed on the decision taken by the council.
Praises for Sebai
Following the decision, Minister Hastings-Williams applauded the council and village for their maturity in the selection process, noting that they made “the process simple and possible.”
The Minister also noted that selecting Sebai to start the project and promising to deliver the houses and roof before year-end is the best gift that the government could bring to the community during the Indigenous Heritage month.
“I personally as Minister do not believe in bringing hand-outs to an indigenous community,” the Minister said. “You come here and you give a little chain saw…but when you give projects where the village must be involved, then there is buy-in and ownership, and that is different.”
The Minister also restated that the project is part of government’s vision of building strong cohesive communities across Guyana, by addressing sustainable housing and, by putting in place the proper infrastructure such as water and sanitation.
CHPA’s Senior Community Development Officer, Bess-Bascom, explained that the agency started engaging Sebai, just over a year ago in the process of getting the project started.
This process, which started during a design workshop in Whitewater, saw CH&PA officials visiting the community approximately three times, to restate the project, and later to inspect the homes and interview persons, that the council recommended, for consideration for participation in the project.
Bess-Bascom explained that those persons shortlisted to be among the first beneficiaries for the project are those who scored high, based on the CHPA assessment.
“…we basically walked through all of the community, looked at all the houses recommended, and we would have also included houses that might not have been on the list of the council, but we considered, based on the conditions that we see as being one of the houses that can be considered for the project,” Bess-Bascom explained.
The CHPA selected for full houses beneficiaries, “those families who have a critical housing need,” added Bess-Bascom. Those selected “either they do not have a home or the home that they are living in is extremely overcrowded or homes are in such bad conditions, that it is not safe for them to remain living in them.”
Bess-Bascom explained that in houses where there were several families, a new house will be constructed, but in the name of the youngest family, that resides in the house.
Meanwhile, the Senior Community Development Officer explained that the beneficiaries for the roof replacement are those, whose thatched roof is in bad condition, “…we look for houses that have a very good structure and that can accommodate a zinc roof,” the Senior Community Development Officer said.
Bess- Bascom also explained that Sebai will be the only community to benefit from the project in 2016, as the CH&PA will be looking at the assessment and beneficiaries’ selection for all the communities under this project before finalising the list for each.
The remaining communities and Sebai residents will benefit from the project in early 2016, the Senior Community Development Officer, CHPA explained. “We will be back next year when we are through with the assessment to complete the finalisation of the list…,” Bess-Bascom said.
But towards the construction of the 2016 leg of the project, Bess-Bascom explained that the CHPA will next week Wednesday again visit the community to meet with the council, 2016 beneficiaries, the builders, and the clerk of works. The latter is to be identified by the village.
As per the project design, the CH&PA is two provide two persons for the houses’ construction and roof construction and the beneficiaries are expected to provide three. Women are not excluded from being labourers, Bess-Bascom explained.
During the meeting with the residents, Regional Chairman Ashley urged that they work together towards delivering the project, including lending support for the construction of each other’s houses, perhaps doing the houses in turn.
Ashley noted that it is only through cooperation that the project can be successful and sustained.
The new hinterland Housing project is being funded through a loan from the IDB. Through this project government aims to build on the success of an earlier project that was initiated in 2009 and wrapped up in 2015, by providing better access to housing, potable water, sanitation and the promotion of women’s empowerment.
Under this project, 12 communities in Regions One and Nine are expected to benefit, with a total of 306 full houses being constructed and 122 roofs being replaced.
In addition to Sebai, the communities selected to benefit under the project include Whitewater in Region One and Katoka, Kwatamang and Massara in Region Nine.
Under the first hinterland project, 122 houses were constructed and 86 roofs were replaced. The communities that benefitted include Oronoque and Manawarin in Region One, and Apoteri and Annai in Region Nine.