San Mateo residents to benefit from CDB grant
Friday, April 22nd, 2016
Residents of San Mateo, Ambergris Caye are rejoicing at the news that a grant has been allocated by the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to alleviate some of the structural problems in their subdivision. Representatives of the CDB, Belize Water Services (BWS), and The San Pedro Town Council (SPTC) held a series of consultations at the Holy Cross Anglican School (HCAS) in an effort to better understand the issues affecting San Mateo.
The first consultation took place on Tuesday, April 12th, where one of the topics discussed was the proper installation of a sewer system. The consultation provided first- hand insight into the living conditions residents face every day in San Mateo. CDB Consultant Dr. Roy Young acknowledged that knowing the vulnerabilities when it comes to their surroundings will further assist them in improving the quality of life for the residents in that area of the island.
Some of the other risks and vulnerabilities highlighted included health, water, sanitation and housing concerns. Mayor Daniel Guerrero shared a few remarks as the consultation wrapped up. He explained that the SPTC plans to focus more on the community, in particular with the development of their streets. Guerrero announced that his team will be looking into implementing this commitment.
A follow- up consultation was held on Tuesday, April 19th at the HCAS shortly after 7PM. The event was attended by a small but very active crowd who expressed other concerns affecting their community. Dr. Young asked the attendees to form groups to discuss and come up with a list of ideas for a better living in San Mateo.
At the end of the activity, a member of each group made a presentation concerning the issues they thought were a priority. Many agreed that infrastructure along with sanitation, drainage and land fill are top priorities. This was followed by the need to address areas prone to flooding, which are also inaccessible due to the lack of roads. One of the groups expressed their distress when it comes to the increase in crime. This led to the issue of security, since many of the streets do not have proper lighting. At the same time, the issue of children not attending school was brought up, as was employment. Overall, the need for proper sewage systems and access to clean water topped the lists of priorities.
According to Young many of the attendees believe that by working together, and with the assistance of the local authorities, many of the issues can solved. “The residents of this area have shown great interest in working together and along with us to better their living conditions. Their suggestions in how to address their issues, team work and the proper identification of the problem, make the job easier for us when executing a plan,” said Young. “Hence we are doing this consultation, because who better than them to tell us what they need and how we can go about addressing their concerns.”
Young expects the plan of action for San Mateo to start in the coming months, since enough evidence of the problems affecting its residents have been collected. “With the data collected in the past weeks and talking with as many residents as possible, we now have a broader understanding of what needs to be done and where and when to start,” he said. He indicated that before anything, certain things must be put in place. For example, before the sewage system is lined up and implemented, the proper infrastructure needs to be constructed and for that the SPTC will play a big role. Young also indicated that many projects and changes are coming to San Mateo in the coming years and he encouraged everyone to continue participating in surveys and consultations in order to benefit from all the humanitarian assistance that is available every year for communities in need.
On their part, the residents welcomed the attention and were happy to express their concerns. “We feel hopeful that at last some of our major concerns are now taken into consideration,” said one of the participants.
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