Over 30 Rural Communities in Belize Lack Access to Electricity or Potable Water
While access to electricity and potable water may seem like a norm for many Belizeans, over thirty rural communities remain without one or the other. The residents of those communities are stuck using traditional and outdated systems. According to the Chief Executive Officer in the Ministry of Rural Transformation, Valentino Shal, there are many roadblocks preventing major upgrades in the communities. He says that the lack of modern systems has also led to a disparity in poverty levels in rural communities when compared to urban areas.
Valentino Shal, CEO, Ministry of Rural Transformation, Community Development, Labour and Local Government: “Well there are several challenges. The first one being the need is still very great. It’s a very unfortunate that we find ourselves at this late stage of our independence and our development where a large proportion of our population are still without proper potable water and without energy and it is our job to make sure that we bring down those numbers as quickly as possible which is why we’re so relentless in the work that we’re doing working together with our sister ministries like the Ministry of Public Utilities and Department of Energy, Ministry of Infrastructure Development to provide roads and that sort of thing. So it’s very critical for us to address the great need that exists. Another important issue to consider is that more than half of our population lives in rural areas and the poverty in rural areas is double that of urban areas so clearly there is the need to address those issues as well, creating economic opportunities, creating employment opportunities, income opportunities for rural families is a very important part of the work we do. And so those are some of the challenges in terms of the scale of the work that needs to get done. Similarly as it relates to this session today with the Ministry of Sustainable Development is the issue of climate change. As the temperature rises on the surface and in the atmosphere we notice that we have wells that used to produce a lot of water producing less water and this is very concerning because as the planet warms due to climate change and global warming we will see where we used to have water drying up and this is water that people depend on for their daily needs. And so we have to begin to work on addressing those issues.”