US$30.9M Sea and River Defense Project launched in Guyana

In Guyana, over 90% of the country’s population lives along the coastal area, much of which lies below sea level. As such, the country faces significant risk of flooding, and the construction and rehabilitation of drainage, irrigation and sea defense systems is a priority for the Government.

On Wednesday April 13, the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) and the Government of Guyana launched a US$30.9M Sea and River Defense Project at the Pegasus Hotel in Guyana. The project is expected to provide for the reconstruction and improvement of approximately 5.4 km of sea and river defenses in eight critical areas, and will benefit over 45,000 Guyanese residents – about 9,000 households in Regions Two, Three, Four and Six.

Speaking at the launch, William Ashby, portfolio manager at the CDB said that the project will improve resilience to coastal and riverine hazards, as well as the effects of climate change through strengthened sea and river defense systems.

The Government of Guyana has identified the protection of people and productive land through Climate Change adaptation measures as a priority, and the coastal protection strategy has long included efforts to manage the natural sea defenses as well as extending, upgrading and maintaining the system of sea and river defense infrastructure.  The importance of mitigating the impact of flooding on the economy has also been highlighted as essential for the achievement of the country’s development objectives.” he said.

CDB will loan Guyana US$25M of the US$30.9M, with the Government providing the remaining US$5.9M. The project will be implemented by Work Services Group (WSG), with a Project Coordinator having day to day responsibility for project management. 

Guyana’s Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson emphasized the project’s importance.

“Guyana Sea and River Defense form part of an integrated system that plays a vital role in the protection of people assets, livelihood and the environment in the coastal belt. This system contributes to the sustainable economic growth and future social economic development of developmental opportunities through the minimization of shoreline erosion and prevention of flooding from sea and river water intrusions onto low lying coastal regions.”

The project will also include a Capacity Building component, with activities such as the establishment of a shoreline change monitoring system, enhancements to the Shore Zone Monitoring System, a Geographic Information System managed by the Works Services Group, and training of WSG staff. In addition, it includes a Community Awareness and Education Programme to increase community awareness of disaster risk and human actions and activities that could compromise coastal protection, and to influence positive behavioral change.

As part of the project launch, CDB also conducted a project workshop which allowed stakeholders to get a full understanding of the Project and the roles and responsibilities of those charged with its implementation.

The project aligns with CDB’s Country Strategy Paper for Guyana (2013-2017), as well as with CDB’s Strategic Objective of Supporting Environmental Sustainability and Disaster Risk Management. It also aligns with the Government of Guyana’s Sea and River Defense Action and Implementation Plan.