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< Current local time in Suriname – Paramaribo
PARAMARIBO, Suriname–The heavy rains that have pounded Suriname over the past two weeks have subsided, but it will likely be a while before the country gets over the carnage. “It’s a sunny day today, but the water hasn’t retreated yet,” said Patrick Kensenhuis, a Parliamentarian from District Para on Thursday. He said that in his district farmers have lost thousands in crops and cattle, and that this applies to other parts of the country as well. Kensenhuis feared that the stagnant water in the residential areas could lead to diseases.
The obstinate rains have caused trouble in several parts of the country. The Meteorological Office has related the heavy downpours to disturbances in the inter tropical convergent zone around the equator, which unleashed between 300 and 400 millimeters in rainfall per square kilometer since May 1st; unusual since Suriname generally gets 2,500 to 3,000 millimeters of rainfall per year. The last time similar atmospheric disturbances caused such bad weather was in June 2006, when rains took rivers in the hinterland beyond their banks; more than 450 millimeters of rain fell then. Some 100 villages were inundated and hundreds of people were relocated. Three lives were lost then. So far this year there have been no reports of casualties.
Meteorologist Truus Warsodikromo said that the hinterland was hit the hardest because the heavy rains fell there first before the coastal areas around Paramaribo experienced the effects of the disturbances.
PARAMARIBO–Suriname’s Government has announced that it will be investing in solar energy to bring electricity to its remote communities. Gunzi, a Maroon village in the upper Suriname River region will serve as test subject for the project that was announced at the Cabinet of the President. Alternative energy company WTEC from New Jersey (USA) was contracted to execute the project, in close cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources, national electricity company EBS and the Anton de Kom University of Suriname.
More than three quarters of Suriname’s landmass are blanketed by thick rainforest; most of the country’s inhabitants live in the capital Paramaribo. Many villages in the sparsely populated hinterland have thus not been hooked up to the EBS grid and make do with noisy, moody diesel powered generators that are only switched on at night. Natural Resources Minister Stanley Betterson underscored that bringing electricity to the remote villages will benefit education, industry and development of these areas.
John Goedschalk, the Cabinet’s Coordinator Environment hinted that as “improving the supply of energy supply for the people is one of this Government’s priority areas,” Government had looked at hydro energy as an alternative. “Solar energy is also an option,” he said.
Last month Government scrapped a proposal to execute a hydro energy project in the hinterland. The TapaJai project would call for submerging 240 kilometers of land along the upper Suriname River and installing a new series of turbines which would ultimately generate 275 megawatts of power. Residents of the surrounding Maroon villages had objected from when the project was suggested.
PARAMARIBO–Government has scrapped the hydro energy project that was billed as the solution to the country’s long term energy woos. No official statement has been released yet, but reports are that President Desi Bouterse assured residents of her district that the TapaJai project that would affect their surroundings will not be carried out. The residents will soon be presented with the President’s formal notice of cancellation.
TapaJai refers to the area surrounding the Tapanahoni River and the Jai Creek in Sipaliwini in south eastern Suriname, from where water will be diverted to supplement the Prof. Dr. J.C. Van Blommestein Lake, a 1,560 square kilometer artificial lake that was created in the 1960′s.
Due to unexpected changes in weather patterns, the Afobaka Dam power plant in the dam at the lake has in recent years been unable to generate enough hydro-energy to power both the country’s growing community and the aluminum plant of Suralco -a subsidiary of Pittsburg headquartered multinational Alcoa.
An interesting course on diversity, conservation and research of Xenarthra (sloths, anteaters and armadillos) was conducted in Paramaribo on April 15 and 16. The aim of this course was mainly to get people’s attention to the need for doing more research of Xenarthra in the Guyana’s.
This two-day course was preceded by the ‘2nd International Sloth Meeting’. Numerous biology students from the teachers college in Suriname and some from the University of Guyana attended the course. According to Monique Pool, president of Green Heritage Fund Suriname (GHFS), a good number of gamekeepers participated as well.
Researchers from Brazil, Portugal and Argentina talked about several topics ranging from threats, such as road kills or loss of habitat, to genetic research.
Richard Richmond, a third year biology student from Georgetown, Guyana, found the storage methods for research material quite interesting. It was obvious during this course that a lot needs to be done to get more knowledge about the Xenartra.
“Only when an animal becomes extinct do we come to know what it meant to an ecosystem,” mentioned Mariella Superina, a veterinarian doing research of armadillos.
Monique Pool was happy to see such a crowd of students and hopes, that in the near future, they’ll at least be more involved, even if that means becoming a volunteer for GHFS!
PARAMARIBO–Suriname has secured approval for its Readiness Preparation Proposal (R-PP 2013) and will receive US$ 3.8 million to prepare for participation in the United Nation’s REDD+ initiatives that focus on reducing emissions from deforestation and enhancing forest carbon stocks.
The UN’s Collaborative Program on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (REDD+) is a set of steps designed to use market and financial incentives to encourage forest rich countries to reduce deforestation and forest degradation. Its objective is to reduce greenhouse gases. Estimates are that deforestation and forest degradation account for 20-25% of greenhouse gas emissions, which is higher than the transportation sector.
PARAMARIBO–In commemoration of International Day of Forests, March 21 and World Water Day, March 22 the U.S. Embassy Paramaribo, is presenting two documentaries:
Ross Kemp: Battle for the Amazon This documentary looks into the socio-economic and environmental pressures facing the Amazon regions of Brazil, Ecuador and Peru and exploring the legacy of devastation created by a burgeoning global desire for energy, food and mineral resources. It investigates how oil companies are affecting large tracts of the Amazon in a desire to satisfy the planet’s energy needs and how the turf wars that arise over cattle ranching and soy plantations have escalated. It also investigates how the global demand for cocaine is leading to further deforestation and how the rise in the price of gold has meant that people are tearing up the rainforest as they seek to earn a living.
PARAMARIBO, Suriname–Suriname’s public and private sectors are bringing relief to residents of Maroon villages in the hinterland that were struck by a sudden storm. Following three days of intense rains stormy gusts raged through the villages of Kadjoe, Wakibasoe I, Makambi and Djankakondre in District Brokopondo on Wednesday February 20th, tearing off tree branches, ripping off roofs and terrifying the residents who had never experienced this kind of weather before. Parliamentarian Frederik Finisie, who hails from Wakibasoe was happy with the assistance.
The houses that were struck by the storm are mostly wooden dwellings. Maroon tribes have lived in these areas since their ancestors fled slavery in the colonial days. These modest structures are far from storm worthy.
“It was terrifying. People had never seen this type of weather; they were used to seeing storms on the television, wreaking havoc on other countries, but never had they imagined it would happen in Suriname, let alone in their own villages,” Finisie said. He wasn’t present when the wind struck, but he says he got in gear the moment he heard about the storm. “I’m a child of this area, so the moment I heard about what had happened, I brought the press down. People had to know what went down there.”
PARAMARIBO–The Green Heritage Fund (GHFS) on Saturday opened the doors to a unique exhibition of photos of sloths it rescued from certain death last October. During this exemplary exhibition, the walls of exhibition location ‘De Hal’ are adorned with numerous portrait pictures of the animals and the public gets to marvel at 3 slide shows and big posters that tell their story. The hall was decorated to look like a forest; while finding their way through it, many visitors realized what great work GHFS had done.
The rescue in itself was exemplary. On October 22 the Fund GHFS went to Kwatta after being alerted that there were 14 sloths in danger on a plot of 6,8 acres that was being deforested. They ended up with more than 200 animals, mostly sloths but also anteaters and porcupines. All were rescued and released back in nature. This would not have been possible with the generous help and enthusiasm of more than 105 volunteers on an individual basis or associated with organizations. At the opening of the exhibition, GHFS presented the annual Sloth Award to game-keeper Rabin Nekrui, who according to the chairman of GHFS, Monique Pool, was very dedicated to the rescue mission. He worked daily to make this rescue action a successful one.
BELIZE— The Belize-based Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) on Mondday began the first of a series of workshops in Suriname as it seeks to develop a regional approach to climate change risk management.
The CCCCC said that representatives from the United Kingdom-based consulting group, Acclimatise, will assist in conducting the high-level workshops in Suriname, Barbados, Jamaica, and Belize. The CCCCC team includes Keith Nichols, programme development specialist, and Joe McGann, programme manager, and they will be joined by Olivia Palin and John Firth of the consulting group Acclimatise. The initiative is being funded by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID), through the Climate Development Network.
UK–Guguplex brings affordable, clean solar power to rural communities in Suriname. One of the eight IDEAS 2012 competition winners, the company aims to bring affordable, clean solar power to rural communities in the country, who do not have 24/7 access to electricity. Competition organizer GVEP International stated in a recent press release that Guguplex, which sells and maintains solar equipment at its store in Paramaribo, intends to provide solar lighting at minimal cost, through assistance from a local micro-finance institution.
Many rural communities depend on kerosene lamps and/or candles for night light, the release said. This aggravates respiratory conditions and can be costly. Alternatively, some communities have access to electricity from diesel generators, but this fuel is very expensive and so electricity is on for only a few hours a day.