Rupununi facing drought – leaders raise concerns

The Rupununi is facing a drought with creeks and wells drying up, several indigenous leaders from the South Rupununi have reported.

Several toshaos from the South and South Central districts of the Rupununi earlier this week were in Georgetown and met government officials to discuss issues of concern. The leaders included Paulinus Albert – chairman of the South and South Central District Toshaos Council; Gregory Thomas – toshao of Sawariwau; Vibert Ignace – toshao of Shulinab; Gregory David – toshao of Katoonarib; Patrick Gomes – councillor of Maruranau; and Nicholas Fredericks—councillor of Shulinab.

In an interview with Stabroek News, the leaders related that among a number of issues raised was the drying up of creeks and wells in their communities. They explained that over the past two years, the rains during the rainy season were less than usual and now, as the sun bakes the savannah, wells and creeks are drying up.

This issue was raised with the ministries of Health, Agriculture, Natural Resources, among other agencies including the Office of Climate Change.

Residents of Lethem, during a visit by Stabroek News to the Region Nine community last month, had also related that their wells were drying up.

“Rupununi is experiencing a really dry spell now,” Fredericks said. Gomes said that the dry spells have been increasing over the years, while Albert said they have observed this phenomenon for the past two or three years.

The leaders reported that some creeks have dried up and cassava tubers – used to make the staple farine – are getting “husky,” which is not good. Albert said persons were cutting down farms and “hoping for the rains” so that they could plant.

It was also noted that there is a limited amount of fish and the large river turtles and while they are yet to determine why this is so, they believe that it is partly related to the drought. It was also noted that there are lots of persons going into the South Rupununi with ice boxes to fish.

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