By Jarryl Bryan
Guyana has a long road ahead of it when it comes to poverty reduction, with a recent report from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) highlighting that poverty remains entrenched. In fact, Guyana has more poverty than the regional average.
According to the IDB’s Reformulation, Upgrade and Expansion of Road Network report, compiled under the Adequate Housing and Urban Accessibility Programme, 26.6 per cent of the population were “multi-dimensionally poor”.
The Bank compared this with a regional average of 18 per cent. The report, which focused primarily on infrastructure and housing, went into detail about the real cost of housing deficiencies. The IDB noted that these shortfalls are perceived to contribute to crime rates.
“In Georgetown, poverty is evident in various measures of the standard of living and housing deficits,” it stated. “Twenty-nine per cent of the population live in overcrowded housing (of) over two people per room.”
“Criminality in Georgetown is also high, 33.8 murders per 100,000 people; above the regional average of 26, perceived to be exacerbated by the lack of community facilities and public spaces. Basic infrastructure in new and established housing sites developed incrementally by [Central Housing and Planning Authority] CH&PA,” it added.
The report acknowledged the work of the CH&PA, noting that there are programmes enabling housing construction and extensions by upgrading infrastructure, allocation of land and titles. But it noted that much more needs to be done.
“Despite the gains made, an estimated 249.5 kilometres of roads and associated drainage still needs to be completed to improve the living conditions of over 32,000 households, according to the CH&PA. Census data shows these deficits occur in non CH&PA villages such as D’Urban area, Industrial Estate and East La Penitence.”
The IDB also noted that local Neighbourhood Democratic Councils lack sufficient institutional capacity for long-term site management.
It is understood that in June 2012, the IDB approved the operation “Road Network Upgrade and Expansion Programme” for US$69.2 million, following a request from the then People’s Progressive Party Government. The objective of the Multiple Works (MW) Programme was to enhance urban and suburban mobility and safety by reducing vehicle operating costs, travel times and road fatalities.
The loan included civil works for primary roads and safety components in the capital Georgetown and surrounding regions. This included proposals to improve transport systems along Georgetown’s Sheriff-Mandela road, the sample project.
In September, officials from the CH&PA held a consultation at the Sophia Primary School. The consultation saw the attendance and participation of residents of A and B Fields.
The proposed works to be carried out include road construction, upgrades to community grounds and buildings, the installation of street lights, construction of sidewalks and providing subsidies for the construction of core home and home improvement projects.
The communities to benefit were Pattensen/Turkeyen (Section B), Turkeyen (Section C and D), Section “C” Cummings Lodge (Cummings Park), Block E Sophia (Farmers group), Block “X” Liliendaal (Section A), Block “F” Sophia, Plum Park and Block “R” Sophia.