More Amerindian projects on SIMAP front burner

by Sharon Lall
Guyana Chronicle
January 4, 2000

MORE Amerindian projects which have fallen short under an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) loan agreement, will this year be among others on the front burner of the Social Impact Amelioration Programme (SIMAP).

The poverty alleviation body set up by the government has a budget of about one billion dollars for projects for the new year.

In 1999, SIMAP spent more than G$1.2 billion, says Mr Harry Narine Nawbatt, Executive Director of the agency.

SIMAP is executing a loan between the Government of Guyana and IDB for US$17M. The Government has contributed an additional US$1.9M.

In accordance with the IDB loan agreement, the agency has until May to finish works under the IDB loan.

But SIMAP has been able to commit 97 per cent of the funds available to be used for `regular' projects, those which exceed US$5,000, Nawbatt explained.

SIMAP had a budget of some G$849M for 1999. However, as of December 28, 1999, it spent G$877M under the foreign component of the IDB loan.

In addition, the agency expended G$71M given as part of the Government's contribution.

Nawbatt, in an interview with the Chronicle, said SIMAP will not be concentrating on any specific areas like drainage and irrigation, water supply system, schools, hospitals or roads.

Focus, he said, will be placed on Amerindian projects which have a maximum ceiling of US$40,000.

Six engineers are to be assigned to the Amerindian Projects Department to accelerate work in that department.

Equal attention will also be placed on those Emergency Response Mechanism projects which receive a maximum funding of US$5,000.

Work which started in 1999 under SIMAP's health and nutrition component, for which funding of up to US$2M is available, will continue this year.

SIMAP intends to do intensive work in distributing milk and rice to pregnant, lactating mothers and malnourished children up to five years old at 22 health centres in hinterland and coastal areas, Nawbatt stated.

A nutrition/education programme which involves health workers speaking to mothers about nutrition will also come on stream. Pamphlets with nutritional information will be distributed to persons countrywide.

Worm medicine, Iron and Folic Acid, syrup and tablets will be given to children in need of these types of supplement.

This programme, to be carried out by SIMAP in collaboration with the Health Ministry, will be managed by a committee being chaired by Chief Medical Officer, Dr Rudolph Cummings.

The committee comprises representatives from the Pan-American Health Organisation (PAHO), the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Guyana Agency for Health, Environment and Food (GAHEF) and all health-related agencies.

Nawbatt said SIMAP also wants to employ a nutritionist to effectively manage the nutritional aspect of the health/educational programme.

The agency will, either this or next month, start concentrating on its technical vocational component.

Some US$500,000 can be utilised to train 1,000 unemployed and out-of-school youths between 18 and 25 years old.

They will be taught relevant skills to establish their small businesses, find employment or further their technical/vocational skills.

According to Nawbatt, 60 per cent of those trained in the last programme of this nature have either enrolled for further training, found employment or have their own small business.

SIMAP might be permitted by IDB to manage this year's technical/vocational skills programme on its own.

On the previous occasion it was supervised by the Board of Industrial Training

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