The World Bank yesterday approved US$26 million in additional financing for Guyana to support its ongoing Flood Risk Management Project.
The funds approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors will help to improve the South American country’s climate resilience, protect economic activity and reduce the impact of natural disasters. This is particularly important given the fact that 90 per cent of Guyana’s inhabitants live on the narrow coastal plain, much of which lies below sea level and is susceptible to flooding.
Given the fact that flooding poses a serious and recurrent risk to both the lives of people and to livelihoods in the agricultural sector, World Bank Resident Representative for Jamaica and Guyana, Ozan Sevimli states that these additional resources will help protect some of the country’s most populous areas and build greater resilience.
Guyana’s Flood Risk Management Project aims to significantly increase flood resilience in the low-lying coastal lands of the East Demerara area. This includes the country’s capital, Georgetown, where much of the population is concentrated as well as the location for much of the country’s administrative and commercial activities.
USE OF ADDITIONAL WORLD BANK FUNDING
The additional financing being provided by the World Bank will include funds for extensive work to improve the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC), which is one of Guyana’s major water storage and flood control facilities. The World Bank additional financing will seek to improve the drainage systems that ensure the integrity of the EDWC dams.
Water stored in these dams is used to irrigate agricultural lands, provide water for use in homes as well as reduce the risk of flooding.
The existing EDWC dam is over 130 years old. Due to its age, it has had many minor slope failures, which have generally been repaired without consequences. However, these failures indicate the fragile nature of the dam.
Including in the project is an updating of the Emergency Preparedness Plan, flood modeling and the rehabilitation of small existing irrigation structures. There will also be capacity building, communication and outreach activities to better inform the public.
These activities are expected to contribute to reducing the outbreaks of infectious illnesses in Guyana due to flooding while alleviating the burden on the healthcare system that is currently managing the COVID-19 pandemic.