FOR REAL INDEPENDENCE
For how many more years are we going to see min-isters
on tours related to flooding?
Water resources manage-ment a major challenge for all
Flooding problem persists because we do not care enough
to do something about it.
Solving problem would be boon to hard-working farmers.
46 years of independence, we have much to be proud of.
T&T has indeed become the little industrial giant
of the region.
For yet another year, it seems (I have not looked at the
numbers), the students from our secondary school system
have done better than their counterparts from everywhere
else in examinations set by the Caribbean Examinations
A silver medal at the Olympics, in a team event, is something
to be cherished. And next year we have two big events
to look forward to that will expose T&T to the leaders
of the worldthe Summit of the Americas and the Commonwealth
Heads of Government Conference.
But there is much yet to do. There are deficits to be
attended to and gaps to be bridged. There are mundane
things that affect the lives of ordinary people which
need to be fixed. The fact that we are a sovereign people,
responsible for our own lives and future, requires us
to do something about these things.
Let me begin with the reality of flooded homes and communities
which so many people have lived through because of heavy
rains in the last few days. The causes of the flooding
and the dislocation are not in the homes and communities;
clogged drains, blocked water courses, poor building practices
at community levelthese are not the source of the
The real causes of the problem are well documented in
reports and studies and recommendations and solutions
have been put forward.
But someone needs to pay attention to these things: a
project on a national scale needs to be conceptualised,
local knowledge needs to be taken into account and integrated
into both the planning and execution framework, a plan
has to be developed, a timeframe needs to be established,
the main project and subprojects need to be costed and
these need to be successfully managed so that outcomes
are in fact achieved.
For how many more years are we going to see ministers
on tours related to flooding? How many more times are
we going to investigate the causes of the problem?
Water resources management is a big issue in the world.
It is certainly a major challenge for all Caribbean countries,
in various ways, including our own. Could we not take
the issue of water resources management seriously and
develop a national project with long, medium and short-term
objectives that would address a number of key issues in
a comprehensive and coherent way?
For instance, a policy to cease housing construction on
the Northern Range and its foothills; addressing reafforestation
deficits in a systemic way; a rational approach to the
management of quarrying; integrated strategic actions
focused on our rivers and natural streams; a systematic
cleaning of our man-made drainage systems, with continuous
maintenance activity built in to a managed plan, monitored
on an ongoing basis.
These things will deal with the flow of water, but we
also need to deal with the trapping and collection sideand
if this is properly done, then we can address the issue
of the management of water assets and resources as well
as access, deployment and distribution. Action on these
fronts will become stimulus to productive activity.
Clearly this is not beyond us. A lot of work has already
been done on flooding and water resources management.
There are many experts in the field. The problem of perennial
flooding is not one lacking a solution and it is a solution
that many would be happy to contribute to and become involved
in. Moreover the solution to this problem will have benefits
for WASA, for leisure and tourism, for irrigation with
positive impact on food production among other things
and will generally transform wastage into tangible assets
Is there anyone in a position to do something about this?
Who cares enough to act? How can we justify dealing with
annual flooding, the trauma, inconvenience and loss that
it causes to countless citizens, when solutions exist
but the problem persists because we do not care enough
to do what is required to solve it.
It must be obvious to every citizen that the basic problems
with agricultural production and distribution, besides
the key issue of land tenure, have to do with four things:
(1) flooding, (2) irrigation, (3) road access, and (4)
Solving the flooding problem will be a boon to hard working
farmers. Solving the flooding problem could yield the
irrigation solutions which will make a decisive difference
at this time when the high cost of food presents a dilemma
Why can we not solve a recurring national problem and
unleash entrepreneurial initiative and productivity, help
to manage risk for the farmers, and make our country more
self-sufficient at the same time?
The larceny of food crops, fruit and animals is an issue
of crime. I wont say any more about crime except
that there seems to be no end to crime in sight and that
things seem to be getting worse rather than better. However
security for the citizen is basic and we are failing miserably
in this area.
Water, food and security. What could be more basic than
that? Perhaps if we saw the flooding problem as an opportunity
for solving challenges in both water resources management
and food security we would do something about it.
Perhaps if we saw the delivery of peace and security to
the ordinary citizen as an essential service to the people,
a vital responsibility of government, and an essential
ingredient of good governance, then we would do something
Food, water and security. What a foundation on which to
build a genuine independence. What a platform for production
and productivity. What a boost to a sense of freedom.
How little it takes to bring happiness to ordinary people?