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Government moves to resolve problems affecting Augier combined school

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Contact:  Darnley Lebourne


Friday 17 June 2011 The Government of Saint Lucia is moving in a decisive manner to resolve the long-standing public health problems which has been affecting the operations of the Augier Combined School.


The problems of foul stench and flies infestation surfaced generally in April, 2004 and have affected the operations of the school to varying extents since. The problems in question are directly related to the existence of poultry farms in the vicinity of the school.


This problem gained national attention over the years as parents sought to highlight the impact on the school’s operations. In recent weeks the matter has once again resurfaced resulting in parents taking the decision to withdraw their children from the school.


Over the past weeks the various Government officials concerned have been attempting to find an appropriate response to what was a very challenging and complex situation. The scenario was one which presented concerns related health, education, agricultural production and economic livelihoods. Whereas there were health threats and obvious/unacceptable disruptions to the operations of the school, there were also major considerations and implications pertaining to livelihoods and safeguarding the achievements and stability of the poultry sub-sector.


Bearing in mind this complex scenario, the relevant Government agencies have been spearheading interventions which are geared at bringing about an abatement or resolution to the problem. On Friday, June 10th, 2011, senior officials from the Ministries of Health, Education and Agriculture met with parents and teachers of the institution to discuss options for resolution of the problem. That meeting arrived at a number of conclusions towards resolution of the problem.


In the main parents agreed that the operations of the school for the remaining month be moved to the Vieux Fort Comprehensive, Campus B. This move has already been put into effect. In this regard, the Ministry of Education has made all necessary transportation arrangements to address needs related to the transfer. Assurances were also given that the Ministry of Agriculture and NDC will be working with the farmers concerned to effect the relocation of their farms.


To date an area has been identified for relocation of two of the smaller farmers in the vicinity of Herald Estate. A two acre plot has also been identified for the relocation of the largest of the farmers, Mr. Nigel William. Mr. William is estimated to produce 25% of national production and is ranked as the second highest egg producer on the island. His contribution is therefore significant to maintaining the island’s self-sufficiency in egg production. Mr. William satisfies certain established standards including candling and grading of eggs. He is also the only egg producer who has met requirements that enable him to sell to cruise ships visiting the island.


The relocation of these farmers is coming at a significant cost to the state. It is estimated that the relocation of the two smaller farmers will cost EC $165.000.00. On the other hand relocation of Mr. William will be undertaken at an estimated cost of EC $150.000.00. The Ministry of Agriculture has committed to oversee the entire relocation process within a period of three months. During this period, the Ministry will be providing the necessary technical support to the farmers in question through its veterinary department to facilitate the safe transportation of birds to the new locations. The completion of the entire relocation process will allow for reopening of the Augier Combined School in the new Academic year, in September, 2011 in an atmosphere that is free from environmental/health threats associated with the activities of farmers who are currently operating within the vicinity of the school.


The interventions of the various Government agencies over the past weeks and the related commitments by Government have ensured that the longstanding problems associated with farming activity near the school will be finally resolved.

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