The importance of flood protection systems to Guyana’s social and economic development cannot be over-emphasised.
Recognising this, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure in collaboration with the European Union held a meeting with stakeholders for a comprehensive revision of the Sea Defence Acts and Disaster Risk Management, earlier today.
At the meeting, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure, Annette Ferguson said the collaboration is necessary to ensure that the updated sea and river defence legislation is comprehensive, all-encompassing and harmonised with the country’s vision to develop a green state.
Minister Ferguson added that though it addresses several issues relative to the management of the sea defences along our vulnerable coastline, the current Sea Defence Acts is somewhat narrow in scope.
The Acts are concerned primarily with man-made defences and do not properly account for mangroves. The protection of the mangroves falls under other legislative fields but does not serve all needs for sea and river defences and there is no specific enforcement authority for sea and river defences.
“In light of these and other critical observations it is envisaged that the drafting of the updated Sea Defence Bill will address legal interpretations pertaining to the management of sea and river defences, the establishment of entities, institutional arrangements, responsibilities, powers and limitations, regulations, funding mechanisms, penalties and reporting among other critical issues,” Minister Ferguson explained.
Through national financing and donor arrangements with the European Union and Caribbean Development Bank, the government has secured funding for sea defences construction
One important donor programme currently being implemented is 11th European Development Fund programme which will run from 2017-2020 and will see the disbursement of the just over $7Billion (€ $30Million). It is aimed at enhancing Guyana’s disaster risk management and flood resilience capacity through integrated coastal zone management, sea and river defences, drainage and mangrove regeneration and the promotion of gender equality in the sea and river defence sector.
Other programmes include the Sea and River Defence Sector Policy framework in 2015, the 2016-2020 comprehensive Sea and River Defence Sector Strategy Strategic Objective.
Minister Ferguson acknowledged the contributions of the European Union to the sea and river defence sector.
“The European Union has partnered with the Government of Guyana through the provision of donor funding in support of coastal zone management programmes for more than thirty (30) years. The updating of the Sea Defence Act through EU grant financing represents another milestone in this collaborative process and is considered an important advancement in the adoption of a strategic approach to shore zone management in Guyana.”
Substantial lengths of the sea defences were constructed decades ago and reconstruction of critical sections is required in a number of areas.
According to Minister Ferguson, annually, approximately 4Km of the new sea and river defences are constructed to restore adequate levels of flood protection in areas where the existing structures have become critical. Additionally, in excess of 40Km of sea and river defences are improved through rehabilitation and maintenance interventions.
Ranetta La Fleur
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