Minister of Communities, Ronald Bulkan on Thursday met with United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative, Mikiko Tanaka to highlight the work of the ministries and the possible areas of collaboration with the international agency.
Ministers within the Ministry of Communities, Valerie Patterson responsible for Housing and Dawn Hastings-Williams responsible for Water also presented their perspectives on the way forward for their respective sectors.
In pursuit of establishing autonomy, Bulkan said that capacity building at the level of the local democratic organs must take centre stage.
He said the previous dysfunction which obtained due to the stymying of local government elections is a graphic reminder of the philosophy which prevailed in regards to local democracy.
In echoing Bulkan’s sentiments, Patterson remarked that the importance of capacity building cannot be over emphasized.
Patterson said that coming out of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) gender equality is a critical factor in national development.
She noted that as such, government has a huge responsibility to include women at every level of decision making.
“And so we have a responsibility to women. We have quite a number of women in local democratic organs and in parliament so the opportunities are there,” the minister stated.
However, she lamented the fact that although some women have the capacity and are in a position to lead, they are still heavily dependent on men.
“We have the ability but we sometimes don’t take the opportunity as it comes. It has to do with the women’s mindset. So that’s an area we need help,” Patterson stressed.
She highlighted the need for the development of a strategic plan that will drive government’s agenda in the housing sector.
UNDP has already collaborated with the ministry to undertake a housing profile study that will guide the implementation of a strategic plan.
However, the government is faced with many challenges including the hemorrhaging of the skilled, academic workforce over the years and the tasks of encouraging the diaspora to return here.
Tanaka, who has experience in rural community development, underscored the need for synergy since the issues, she noted, are cross-cutting and financial mobilization is crucial.
She noted that UNDP welcomes any information regarding useful areas of collaboration since development can only go as fast as the resources available.
The UNDP Representative remarked that a better life for everyone is normally best attained through efforts at the grassroots level.
“It’s easier to begin at the community level and as change happens gradually then you will be able to see the results at the national level,” Tanaka pointed out.
She referred to Guyana as a “glass half full” and explained that the small size of the country makes it easier to reach out to all communities in the various regions.
Tanaka commended the ministers’ approach to a decentralized governance system and pledged UNDP’s support to furthering the agenda.
“I can feel the political will and I would love to assistance with the capacity building interventions that are useful and appropriate,” Tanaka said.