Letters & Opinion

Social Issues in Focus — Developing a Level of Environmental Discipline

By Reginald Andrew

Though the issue pertaining to the indiscriminate dumping of garbage has been highlighted repeatedly, it still remains a bothersome matter not only for the authorities but for countless residents from different communities.

Environmental health and hygiene is a major component of our everyday life and despite repeated calls advocating for preservation of the environment, the matter has not been dealt with quite successfully.

An old Indian Chief philosophically stated that ‘as much as you give to the land is as much that you’ll get from it.’

We are inhabitants of Planet Earth, and this is the land that we call home – our cherished habitat.

Now Picture this: You build your home and from foundation to roofing and to the finished product, you take the utmost care and scrutinize every detail to ensure that you purchase the best materials available and hire efficient construction workers to complement your structure.

And with your structure in place, should you not care for the maintenance of that building it may soon fall into disrepair and ruins. But with forthright intuition you set up a maintenance guide to help you get by and keep your house in pristine condition.

Good for you then, up to that point.

But what about the environment that you live in, your neighbourhood, and yes, most importantly again – your habitat.

Preservation of the environment, surely adds luster and durability, longevity and sustainability to the structures that are built upon the land.

Mother Earth has adorned us with this land for our daily survival, yet Mother Nature moves in a complexity of ways and sometimes the gravity of these natural hazards lead to dire consequences, and sometimes irreparable damages are left behind.

While the ‘climate change’ phenomenon is mainly responsible for the erosions and other hazards that impacts the wider world, other issues also compound the issue towards desecration of the environment. The wanton practice of discarding refuse, such as appliances, furniture and other bulk material into the country’s rivers and streams is also an inhibiting factor, conflicting with the preservation of one’s habitat.

On a bright sunny day, undertaking domestic chores at home and in the yard leads to several unwanted or damaged items being thrown out or packed aside for disposal. Depending on the area of habitation, the easier thing that persons choose to do is to dispose of their garbage into the adjoining rivers or streams in the vicinity of that area.

Though the authorities make provisions for the disposal of ‘bulk waste’ on selected days, the practice of indiscriminate dumping of garbage persists. With little care or concern for the subsequent effects of such action, people go about dumping their garbage out into the easiest outlet that they can find.

And then the rains come pouring down and the waters overflow, bringing with it flooding and debris, which oftentimes result in another set of problems and distress.

But while preservation of the habitat will not stop the natural hazards from occurring it may help in keeping that area of land space that you occupy in your vicinity, in a more stable condition.

As a result of the November 6 deluge, reports indicate that damages to property and possession in the northern zone amounted to over $6 million. And with rehabailiataion works ongoing, the infrastructure minister disclosed the cleanup process in the selected communities of Gros Islet, Babonneau, Castries North, Castries Central, Castries South East, and Castries East will cost approximately $800,000.

Incidentally, this is but one component of the rehabilitation works, as assessment of the damages and ‘reconstruction or reinstatement’ will have to be factored into the construction of retaining walls, gabion baskets and other requisite measures to alleviate the rampant floods.

Just imagine, what if at least some of these funds could have been disbursed into other projects; for instance, helping depraved families with school books and other essentials for their children, fixing roads, and especially in these times, in an effort to stem the social disorders and rampant criminality in the country – construction of human resource centres, workshops, sporting and recreational facilities in communities, island-wide.

Taking into account the gravity of the situation, it is an appropriate time to instill in our citizens – a level of ‘Habitat Discipline’ and to create an awareness for greater preservation of the environment.

For as the Indian Chief says, if we fail to take care of the habitat that we live in, then don’t expect the environs to take care of you.

As global citizens in an ever-changing world, we can and must do better than that. It is high time that we take on our responsibilities and make the effort to pay more care and attention to our environment.

While the world leaders’ squabble as to who should pay the ‘re-compensation fees’ for the consequential damages of climate change due to gas emissions and other pollutants , with a rift between the European nations, China and India – the people of the Third World or Small Island Developing States (SIDs) are left in an abysmal and perpetual state of  perplexity.

What does the future hold for the younger generation, the future custodians of this land?

As citizens of ‘Fair Helen’ island state, it is imperative that we do our utmost to elevate our standards of living, and by extension, most importantly to impact positively on our habitat.

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