Georgetown, Guyana – (May 21, 2018) Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, last evening, urged the community leaders of Mahaica-Berbice (Region Five) to take their responsibility to their communities and fellow residents seriously as he noted that they have a duty to work with every community member to improve their quality of life. The State Minister was at the time delivering the feature address at the opening of the Community Leaders Leadership Forum, which is being held to begin the process of completing Community Development plans, was held at the Belladrum Secondary School.
Minister Harmon said that community leaders and community development organisations play an important role in the consolidation of local democracy and governance through the local government administration, as well as fuelling the momentum towards development. Noting that the theme, ‘Working together for the upliftment of the community’ is most appropriate, he said that the community leaders must understand, appreciate and be committed to resolving the issues that the communities face.
“We, as Government, recognise that we cannot foster true development in communities across Guyana by the mere infusion of resources from the top but rather with the full and effective involvement of community based organisations that are mandated to undertake community initiatives for the benefit of all residents of the community, which makes them the best conduit through which information, resources and development activities can be channelled from the Government to the community. Simply put, community development organisations are the best channels for effective administration and communication between the Government, the Regional Democratic Council (RDC), the Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) and the people,” he said.
Noting that Guyana has a rich history of people centred, people focused and people driven community initiatives, Minister Harmon said that over the years, numerous self-help groups, cooperatives and community based groups have emerged as change agents within communities. These institutions have made and continue to make immeasurable contributions to the development of communities across Guyana but Minister Harmon said that a more collective and cooperative effort is needed to address issues in the community.
“I hope you will decide on a way to create greater synergy with central Government, RDC and the NDC in the area of policy, programmatic interventions and other activities that the community would like. I would also like this forum to reinforce the unquestionable virtue of collaboration for the use of limited resources to develop the community and to create the environment for a strong, effective, self-sustainable community through collective endeavours. It is important that at the end of this forum, you as community-based organisers should no longer see yourself as a mere community activist but rather, as developmental partners working in collaboration with all levels of Government to ensure the good life for all particularly the members of your community,” he said.
Member of Parliament for the Region, Ms. Jennifer Wade, in brief remarks, echoed similar sentiments as she noted that while the Government is doing all that it can at the central level, there is a role for community leaders and residents as well in the development of their own communities, region and the country as a whole.
Minister Harmon said that since the administration took office, it has been able to provide Government support and services to communities in the Region that were neglected under the former dispensation.
Chairman of the NDC, Mr. Emile Wilson in an invited comment, said that community members are pleased with the progress that has been made in several of the villages since this administration took office. He noted that the cooperation and support that have been given to the communities in the Region by the administration must be commended and applauded.
Another resident of the region said that he is grateful for the Forum as it provides the platform for issues to be raised and addressed in the interest of all concerned. He also expressed gratitude to the Government for the work it has been doing since taking office. “I am really happy to here today and to also be able to interact with the Honourable Minister and I want to say thank you for the development programmes that we have had going on here in our communities. We are thankful,” he said.
After the opening ceremony, residents were given the opportunity to raise their concerns with the Minister, many of which were addressed on the ground.