By Kurt Campbell
[www.inewsguyana.com] – The Government of Guyana and the European Union (EU) on Friday (January 31) signed a Financing Agreement totaling €14.8M for the 10th European Development Fund (EDF) Sea and River Defence Sector Budget Support Programme.
The Head of the EU Delegation to Guyana, Ambassador Robert Kopecký and Minister of Public Works Robeson Benn, witnessed the signing on Friday, January 31.
According to Dr. Singh, this support which is a continuation of similar support in the past is most welcomed since Guyana remains extremely vulnerable to climate change, particularly rising sea level, adding that 90% of its population lives on the coast.
“Guyana’s topography renders it vulnerable to natural risks related to climate change and sea level rise as most of the country’s key assets are located in vulnerable low-lying areas and are protected by sea defences,” a joint statement by the two parties noted.
All of Guyana’s towns and major settlements and the vast majority of all ‘non–mining’ industrial activities, including agriculture and other economic activities are undertaken within the 425 km coastal zone.
But despite these vulnerabilities Dr. Singh said the Guyana Government has made extraordinary contribution to the global fight against climate change with the preservation of its pristine rainforests.
He expressed appreciation that the EU has recognized these efforts and have come onboard to assist Guyana in confronting the challenge.
According to the statement, “Government continues to invest extensive resources into this sector to protect and maintain the structural integrity of the sea and river defence infrastructures and advancing sustainable shore zone management systems in Guyana, and have been partnering with the EU to protect and maintain the structural integrity of these systems.”
Meanwhile, Ambassador Robert Kopecký said it was heartening to partner with Guyana in this regard and underscored how savings can be garnered in the future from investing in proper infrastructure now.
The EU’s partnership with Government in this sector dates back to the 7th EDF programme signed on 24 February 1994, at which time €12M was committed.
A further €20 M and €18.018 M were committed under the 8th and 9th EDF Programmes respectively. Overall the EU has contributed about €50 million into the sea and river defence sector towards the construction, rehabilitation and/or maintenance of approximately 35 km of sea defence structures in Regions 2, 3, 4 and 6.
The 10th EDF Financing Agreement builds on previous Sea and River Defence programmes undertaken by the Government and the EU. The previous financial commitments made under the 7th, 8th and 9th EDFs have been implemented through project interventions, but recent policy development, institutional reforms and capacity building activities, have set the environment for continuing EDF assistance to the sea and river defences sector through Sector Budget Support.
A detailed implementation plan for Sea and River Defences was developed in 2012 by the Government of Guyana to facilitate progressive adoption and enforcement of the policy by all stakeholders.
The implementation plan focuses on an initial developmental period of five years from 2013 – 2017. During this time, a number of activities will be pursued with the objective of improving the efficiency and sustainability of the Sea and River Defence Sector.
In order for Guyana to qualify for financial disbursement under the 10th EDF Financing Agreement, the Sea and River Defence Sector would have to satisfy specific performance criteria in investment and performance targets, including detailed annual implementation plan, capacity building plan, annual condition surveys of all 160 km of manmade sea defences and implementation of an Annual Infrastructure Programme as outlined in the Sector Policy Implementation Plan.
To equip the sector and place it on the right trajectory towards achieving these performance targets Government would have to invest in excess of G$5.5 billion into the sector, over the next three years before it can satisfy the eligibility criteria and qualify for disbursements amounting to €14.8M.