The National Enhancement Committee
August 4, 2004
When it comes to good intentions and tenacity, few groups in Guyana can match the National Enhancement Committee (NEC).
Since March 1999, the committee has been struggling resolutely to "Nice-Up Guyana", but so far Guyana has stubbornly resisted the NEC's best efforts to do so.
Despite many setbacks, the hardy NEC refuses to give up. Like the proverbial spider witnessed by 'Robert the Bruce', the group keeps trying and trying again, with admirable determination to succeed in the end.
It is said that the trials and tribulations of the NEC's uphill battle to beautify Guyana would bring tears to eyes that never before have wept.
Committee stalwarts tell harrowing tales of crushing disappointments.
Consider the anecdote recounted on television recently by NEC top gun, former government minister Indra Chandarpal. She said, she personally arranged for a row of flowering plants to be grown alongside the University of Guyana (UG) road, to beautify the university's environs. Lo and behold, as soon as the plants began to flower, thieves dug them up overnight and stole them all.
This incident and others like it have led to the general perception that NEC projects tend to start well but usually falter over the long haul.
Nevertheless, there are encouraging signs for the NEC.
Foremost among these is the somewhat surprising fact that, even after the NEC's trail of disappointments, there are still many persons who are willing to devote their precious time and energies to the committee.
Indeed, by all accounts, the NEC has secured the commitment of a corps of bright young people, many from UG, who bring to the table all the vigour and enthusiasm of youth.
Another significant plus for the NEC is its hard-learned ability to adapt to new situations and circumstances. This is quite evident in its reworked approach to its latest venture - the enhancement of Guyana for its status as a venue for the 2007 Cricket World Cup.
From bitter experience, the NEC has learnt that when it comes to beautification of Guyana, it is better to give communities a fishing rod rather than a fish. The NEC intends to enhance the areas along the route and adjacent to Guyana's World Cup stadium with direct community participation, mainly through the Neighbourhood Democratic Councils.
The favoured approach is that the NEC will organise the means, while the communities will get the job done. The idea is that communities will be more inclined to preserve enhancement projects they have worked on themselves.
Another important initiative by the NEC is that it intends to get more schools to participate in the enhancement drive. This would serve a dual purpose: it would expand the manpower available for beautification projects and also cultivate in schoolchildren an appreciation of the value of enhancing the environment in the national interest.
Also, the NEC intends to devote more planning and resources to sustaining its beautification projects. Whereas in the past NEC projects tended to lack continuity, this time around the committee intends to put systems in place to preserve whatever gains it makes. One initiative on the NEC drawing board is to pay caretakers to maintain and protect certain enhancement projects.
It appears that the NEC has embraced a more community-driven, sustainable approach in its latest attempt to "Nice-Up Guyana", with sponsors providing kind as well as cash. To this end, it has identified five working groups to enhance Guyana for Cricket's World Cup.
We should give the indefatigable NEC our full support in this venture.
We extend kudos to the committee for persevering against the odds and for adapting its approach to suit the temper of the times.