Photo: Ganesha Smith – Chair of the Relief and Supply Management Committee, Belize City
The Committee has been going from home to home to assess the needs of families and has so far provided some 5,000 food and care packages.
by Khaila Gentle
BELIZE CITY, Mon. Nov. 7, 2022
The Belize City arm of the Relief and Supply Management Committee (RSMC) has been hard at work getting food, water, and other supplies to all those affected by Hurricane Lisa. The Committee Chair, Ganesha Smith, explained in an interview today the level of effort that goes into providing such large-scale humanitarian aid after a disaster.
The RSMC, which is a committee operating under the National Emergency Management Organization (NEMO), has been on the ground working even before Hurricane Lisa made landfall. According to Smith, one of the committee’s main roles is to ensure that hurricane shelters are fully stocked before those seeking refuge from the storm arrive at those shelters.
“So, for example, if we use All Saints’—if I am told that 200 persons can be held at All Saints’—then we would stock that with food, water, and cleaning supplies prior to the storm coming,” she said.
Since NEMO gave the all-clear on Thursday, the RSMC has been visiting areas throughout the city that were most affected by the hurricane. There, they conduct assessments to determine what residents are most in need of.
So far, says Smith, approximately 2,300 families have been assessed and some 5,000 food packages have been delivered to them. Some of those residents will also be receiving donations of mattresses.
It is a massive undertaking, and one that will see the committee traveling to each and every constituency within the Belize District to conduct their surveys. According to the Committee Chair, the task is not without its challenges.
“When assessments are completed, when the teams are going back to distribute, persons are not at home, and so it creates an issue when everybody sees a truck and thinks that they are not getting, but they are not home to receive the items,” Smith explained.
The RSMC is pleading with residents who have been assessed to ensure that there is either someone at home or someone who is able to receive their relief packages.
Smith, who is also the Human Development Coordinator at the Department of Human Services, has worked with the Relief and Supply Management Committee for some sixteen years. She says that while the assistance needed by families this time around is not as large as on previous occasions, there has been significant and widespread damage to a number of homes.
Relief efforts are being supported by the Belize Coast Guard as well as the Belize Defence Force, and a number of government ministries. The RSMC is hoping to assist every person in need of some form of relief, and according to Smith, they are willing to be on the ground for as long as they are needed.
“We’re just asking the general public to be patient with us. We are doing our utmost to reach every family that has been affected. But, like we mentioned earlier, the challenge is that persons are not home, because families think that ‘if I go out, I can get better help. I can have them see me. I can have them hear me.’ But what we would want them to do is to remain at their location and then we can have persons go in to see them,” Smith said.