4 Regions to benefit from US$30.9M sea defence project

Some 20 communities in four Administrative Regions have been identified for works to be done on sea and

CDB Portfolio Manager William Ashby
CDB Portfolio Manager William Ashby

river defence via a third loan from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB).
The CDB made the announcement when it launched the US$30.9 million Sea and River Defence Resilience Project, in collaboration with the Government, on Wednesday at the Pegasus Hotel, Georgetown.
Attending the launch were representatives of the CDB, Public Infrastructure Ministers David Patterson and Annette Ferguson, and the Finance Ministry’s Finance Secretary, Hector Butts.
Giving an overview of the project, Minister Patterson explained that it covered the rehabilitation of some six kilometres of sea defence in Regions Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam); Three (Essequibo Islands- West Demerara); Four (Demerara-Mahaica) and Six (East Berbice-Corentyne).
He said, however, that these four Regions’ combined six km of sea defence work represents a mere two per cent of the foreshores that have to be protected countrywide.
“So for $30 million, we are only looking into six km of sea defence. If one were to take into account the entire country, it would amount to some 425km.” He said this project was important to Guyana.
According to Patterson, Guyana’s sea and river defence form part of an integrated system which plays a vital role in the protection of people, assets and environment on the coastal belt. This system contributes to sustainable and economic growth and future socioeconomic development opportunities through the minimisation of and the prevention of flooding and river and sea water infusion into the low-lying coastal region.
“To this end, the sea and river defence sector policy was developed and updated last year to better reflect an integrated approach to the delivering of sustainable sea defence along the coast. This improved integration of the many overlapping multisectoral functions and aspects of coastal zone management will aid in efficient and effective flood risks preparation, planning and implementation, while fostering better harmonisation and other relevant national initiatives,” Patterson relayed.
At the end of 2013, the CDB had approved long-term loans totalling about US$255 million to Guyana. This figure will increase with the addition of the current loan. The first sea defence project was approved in 2002 at a cost of $1.8 billion. That catered for 2.1 km of sea defence in Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice). In 2006, the second loan of 1.9 billion was approved covering a total of 2.4km. This third loan, he said, has several components.
“It will focus on flood protection infrastructure and will focus on civil works and upgrading of 5.6 km of sea and river defence. The project sites are located in 20 communities between Region Two, Three, Four, Six along with the coastline and Demerara and Essequibo,” Patterson noted.
In his remarks, CDB Portfolio Manager William Ashby said Guyana remained well-known for its rich and natural environment; however, most of its population lived in close proximity to the 430km of coastline, an area threatened by coastal flooding and sea level rise.
He said Government had identified the protection of the people and productive land through climate change adaptation measures as a priority.
“It has long included efforts to manage the natural sea defence as well as extending and upgrading and maintain the system of sea and river defence infrastructure.”
Ashby said the importance of mitigating the impact of flooding on the economy has also been highlighted and improved risk management capabilities identified as essential to the achievement of the country’s developmental objectives.
The CDB, he said, has been fortunate to have the opportunity to support Guyana’s work in this sector, through a series of projects which started 25 years ago.
“Supporting inclusive and sustainable growth and development is one of the Bank’s main strategic objectives over the 2015-2019 planning period and the promotion and environmental sustainability through climate change resilience, environmental management and disaster risk management are a key corporate priority,” the CDB official said.
He added that a key element of the CDB’s climate resilience strategy was providing borrowing member countries with access to concessionary resources to finance climate resilience investments for some of the most climate vulnerable countries in the world. Ashby said following its accreditation of a regional implementation facility, the CDB now has better access and more funds to address climate change and help mitigate the impact in borrowing member countries.
He said the project would benefit some 45,000 persons in about 9000 households. It will also include a capacity building workshop for Public Infrastructure Ministry staff.