$96M disaster management centre for Region 9

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A $96M disaster management centre will be constructed at Lethem, Region Nine (Upper Takutu-Essequibo).

Minister of State Dawn Hastings-Williams, Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency Joseph Harmon, and Director General of the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) Kester Craig yesterday turned the sod for the construction of the facility.

The centre will be the first of its kind in Guyana and the Government plans to open similar facilities at Regions 1, 7 and 8.

The multipurpose building would provide shelter for both men and women, include a warehouse, training facility, conference room and office space.

From left: Director General of the Civil Defence Commission, Lieutenant Colonel Kester Craig, Town Clerk of Lethem, Ms. Keisha Vincent, Minister of State, Mrs. Dawn Hastings- Williams, RDC Councillor, Mrs. Sandra Rafino and Director General of the Ministry of the Presidency, Mr. Joseph Harmon turning the sod for the construction of the facility.

“The Government is committed to building similar facilities to ensure these remote regions can effectively respond to emergencies and disasters on their own,” the Minister of State said during the sod-turning ceremony.

According to the Ministry of the Presidency, the centre will house a warehouse to pre-position and stockpile relief supplies, a shelter to accommodate displaced persons, a training facility and offices for emergency personnel.

“The facility is expected to increase the efficiency of emergency response operations in the region by reducing the cost and time for shuttling relief supplies from Georgetown into the region,” Hastings-Williams said.

“The facility will allow for items to be sourced within the region for stocking the warehouse, which is anticipated to have a positive spill-over effect on the local economy.”

Additionally, she said the shelter facility will boost the region’s capacity to provide housing for residents displaced during flooding while the offices and training facilities will improve preparedness measures such as capacity building.

Meanwhile, Director General Harmon, under whose stewardship the project originated and was included in the 2019 National Budget, said Guyana should be proud of the steps it is taking in disaster risk management.

The Director General noted that the facility was meant to be funded by an international agency but after months of back and forth, the Government took a decision to budget for it to lessen the adverse impacts upon persons affected by emergencies.