One year later…
Floods have altered the lives of farmers
Kaieteur News
March 6, 2006

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Last year around this time many persons on East Coast Demerara were hoping to restart their lives which were disrupted by almost two months of flood waters.

It was just about the beginning of March that flood waters on the coast had drained from the land after several weeks under water.

But one year later the majority of the people have given up on resuming their activities which mainly include cash crop farming and poultry rearing.

While many of them had not the means to restart, some have become frustrated by the recurrence of the flood this year.

Frederick De Abreu of Nabaclis is one of the frustrated ones.

“I am not even planting back. All I studying is running out of dis country.”

He suffered devastating losses as a result of the 2005 floods and even as he was getting back on his footing, the flood came again earlier this year.

Although it was with less intensity this year's flood put paid to the thought of watching his hard labour wilt under water.

One cash crop farmer explained that it will make no sense to try to restart planting since it would take some time for the crops to mature and there is no telling what will happen in the traditional May/June rainy season.

“Take boulanger for instance. If we were to start back now after this year's flood, it takes six weeks for the seeds to germinate and ready for transplant. Then it takes another several weeks for it to grow. The rains will come again and catch us, so it makes no sense,” the farmer said.

There is Alex Burrowes and Lennox Sears, both small scale sheep and duck rearers who lost several animals last year.

They were both trying to improve their stock when the floods came. They are however persevering despite the setbacks.

“Nobody ever asked me what I lost and how I am making out. But I will try to survive,” Burrowes told this newspaper.

For Eliesha Daly, March has brought back memories of the birth of her fifth child.

She remembers delivering the baby at home while her yard was under three feet of water.

Sixty-nine-year-old Uranie Gardener lost a part of her house during January-February last year. And to compound matters, her granddaughter has been suffering from back pains since the flood as a result of having to sleep on the concrete floor of her Nabaclis house.

“I had a pen with pigs; I had to kill them out. All me fowl and ducks dead,” Gardener told Kaieteur News.

For most of these people, small-scale rearing of animals and kitchen gardens are a way of life. And according to the villagers, to lose them is like being fired from a job.

Michael Walcott, another small-scale animal farmer, had to send away some of his stock to Berbice after watching several ducks and fowls die before his eyes.

Walcott even had a sheep that was eaten alive by hungry dogs desperate for scarce food.

Most of them were not compensated and have had to carry the burden of their losses on their own.

However they hope that since this year the government appears to be more sympathetic to flood victims, there could be some 'insurance' for them to continue despite the odds.