Residents from Demerara –Mahaica (Region Four) on Saturday participated in a consultation session hostedCoordinator of the Social Cohesion Ministry, Sharon Patterson explains the purpose of the exerciseto the participantsby the Social Cohesion Ministry and facilitated and supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) at the Kuru Kururu Primary School to contribute to the ongoing discourse on social cohesion in Guyana.This meeting is the 15th of 30 planned consultations, being held as part of the Ministry’s goal to meet with key stakeholders from all across the country to address issues hindering social cohesion among various groups. The sessions began in June of this year, and feedback drawn for the wide range of participants will contribute to the development of a 2017-2021 Strategic Plan on Social Cohesion in Guyana, which will be completed by the end of 2016.Saturday’s session saw the participation of residents from various communities within the Region, including Yarrowkabra, Wiakabra, Circuit City, Timehri, Kuru Kururu, Kuru Kuru and St Cuthbert’s Mission.Chairperson of the Soesdyke Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC), Dave Singh, encouraged the residents to openly participate in the discussions, adding that it is only with a collective vision that citizens will be able to adequately develop the country: “This is our country. You decide if you want to build this country or have it stagnated. We are all responsible for developing this country and if we don’t work together we won’t achieve what we want in building it.”Residents conducted group discussions on expected outcomes of five thematic areas identified by the Ministry: economic equity and opportunities, citizens’ safety and security, social inclusion and tolerance, inclusive and participatory governance, and harmonious ethnic and racial relations.Each group focused on one of the areas and coming out of these discussions, the residents gave insights on issues that hinder social cohesion within their communities.Coordinator of the Social Cohesion Ministry, Sharon Patterson was pleased with the outcome of Saturday’s meeting and said that there was a diverse representation of persons with different ethnic, geographic and other backgrounds: “Persons came together and contributed in an amicable and cordial way. We will continue with these consultations so as to have a broad representation from the citizens.”The idea for the consultations emerged from the Social Cohesion Round Table held in September, last year, where recommendations were made for the development of a Strategic Plan.