Researcher warns of fallout from ignoring residents’ development concerns

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A researcher and advocate is warning the government that it is making a mistake by dismissing concerns of residents in development planning, and that ignoring community knowledge of a locale can prove to be dangerous.
Dr Suman Sahai, who has had a distinguished scientific career in the field of genetics and is the founder and Chairperson of the Gene Campaign — a leading research and advocacy organisation working on food, nutrition and livelihoods — said building too close to natural waterways can exacerbate flooding.
“A very bad example of neglecting community knowledge is the way we construct our buildings, housing colonies because we build right across water channels when people were saying don’t build here. This is something that a town planner and the minister of finance has no clue about; they do not know how the water flows,” she told OBSERVER media.
 “The crisis of water is perhaps the most [severe] fallout of climate change and at a time like this you are choosing to ignore these types of natural systems and natural dynamics, then you are asking for trouble.”
Dr Sahai added that scientists have often relied on the important knowledge that residents provide to help guide developmental impacts on the environment.
During the groundbreaking of the Callaloo Cay Development in Old Road, last week, Prime Minister Gaston Browne urged the developers to “ignore” opposition to the project from certain residents.
The prime minister classified those residents — who had so far raised concern about the development — as “individuals, who for personal and political reasons, “will object to everything we do”.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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