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River systems being rehabilitated following rains of December 2013

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Representatives of international agricultural organizations IICA and the FAO have expressed satisfaction with the progress made on a rehabilitation project for three river systems in St Vincent and the Grenadines, following the December rains of 2013.{{more}}

The project, which is funded by Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) through the Inter- American Institute for Corporation in Agriculture (IICA) at a cost of $220,000, began in April of this year.

It has as its main target the clean-up of the Vermont River system, the Cumberland River system and the Richmond River system.

On Thursday, September 25, a delegation comprising members of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry Department, IICA and the FAO visited the three river systems.

Michael Dalton, technical specialist for IICA in the St Vincent and the Grenadines disclosed that there are currently 35 workers engaged in the clean-up activities, which includes the cutting up and removal of logs in these rivers in order to prevent or minimize the possibilities of future blockage of the river systems by these fallen trees, as occured in the cataclysmic event on Christmas Eve of December 2013.

“The programme is an eight-month programme and it aims to do this clean up activity, utilizing local labour from the three communities. So, there is an element within the programme as well for the employment of local labour, which would provide an opportunity to put some money into the local communities in an effort to aid the recovery effort in those communities that were severely affected by the storm in December,” Dalton disclosed.

According to Dalton, the project has been ongoing for 41 days and substantial works have been done.

“We have cleared essentially two kilometres in Richmond river; similarly we have done around two kilometres in Hermitage river and just under one kilometre in the Vermont river. We have to move on now to the stabilization of the river banks, which would extend again over this same period of time; five to eight months and as long as similar linear measurement of about 12 kilometres or so,” the IICA technical specialist further added.

In addition to the cleaning up of the river systems, the project will also focus on slope stabilization activities.

Dalton revealed that there are already eight acres targetted in various areas throughout the community.

“For example, we would have noticed in this particular field tour the actions being taken place at Belle Isle for the stabilization of the slope immediately below the prison farms. This is an important activity for us, which we intend to continue. Also, we want to do about eight kilometres or so of forest roads, in Hermitage and in other areas within the affected communities.

“These are important parts of the infrastructure within the forest and we have to ensure that these roads are rehabilitated as a part of this exercise. There is some $220,000 that is actually dedicated towards this activity and most of it will go directly towards the activities within the communities, with minimal amounts actually for the administrative components of the project,” Dalton added.

John King, IICA representative to Eastern Caribbean States, said that he is pleased with the progress made thus far by the local team since the implementation of the project five months ago.

John disclosed that plans are to continue the project and ensure all efforts to help the country in mitigating disaster, especially from the low level trough.

“Based on what I saw concerning the project implementation, we have already completed 41 days and cleaned up about five kilometres of river banks. It was done manually and I am satisfied at what I observed.”

Meanwhile, Claus Eckelman, regional forestry oofficer for the FAO, said that his organization was pleased to be associated with the initiative and commended the local team for the job done thus far.

“When I came here first and looked at the results of the Christmas floods, the rivers were filled with logs and debris. These logs pose a serious threat for the people living downstream. To avoid that, something had to be done and I am very pleased with my observations,” Eckelman said.