Guyana receives almost US$1M from Japan to boost National Flood Early Warning System

An aerial view of flooded parts of the country. Photos were released by the Civil Defence Commission in June 2021

The Government of Japan has made approximately US$1 million available to boost Guyana’s National Flood Early Warning System.

Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, made this disclosure earlier today during a virtual handing-over exercise.

In his keynote address, the Minister said the recent flooding has highlighted the need for an effective National Flood Early Warning System.

“The handing over of this National Flood Early Warning System comes as a critical point for Guyana. The recent flooding which has been declared as a national disaster has highlighted the need for a well-developed and operational National Flood Early Warning System.

“Such a System would provide opportunities for climate change adaptation and resilience benefits while at the same time improving disaster preparedness, and reducing the costs associated with response/relief and reconstruction.”

Minister Mustapha also said Guyana is currently experiencing the worst flood on record, in terms of scale, and that recovering from this event will no doubt require the Government and the Agriculture Ministry to redirect resources to address the challenges, which are also affecting planned interventions. Added to that, he said developing a National Early Warning System is crucial to the nation’s advancement.

“It is in this context that the development of a National Flood Early Warning System becomes extremely relevant to the development of Guyana. Early warning systems are an important component of a country’s disaster risk management strategy.

“Going beyond flood forecasting – which assesses flood risks, flood early warning systems, allows authorities (in this case the Hydromet Service) to issue warnings when a flood is imminent or already occurring,” Minister Mustapha said.

Guyana experiences an annual and or bi-annual cycle of flooding driven primarily by the May/June rains or in the secondary rainfall season at the end of the year either in the Coastal Regions or in the hinterland.

The multifunctional Early Warning System is expected to improve community preparedness for extreme weather events such as the current wide-scale floods, in terms of both warning and increasing understanding of the risks associated with the events, and the appropriate flood responses that have to be implemented.

Furthermore, Minster Mustapha emphasized that in order to develop a full-fledged Flood Early Warning System, significant human, technical and capital investments are required.

“The Government of Guyana recognises that today’s handing over does not represent the development and launch of a full-fledge Flood Early Warning System for every corner of Guyana. There is still a long road ahead that would require significant human, technical, and capital investments to ensure that we have a truly comprehensive system in place.

“While the current system still requires much more work beyond what has already been achieved, we believe that it sets a strong foundation upon which a comprehensive system can be built. This system, when coupled with the current work being done under the Climate Risk and Early Warning System (CREWS) initiative for the development of a national Multi-Hazard Early Warning System (MHEWS), will significantly advance Guyana’s climate resilience,” Minister Mustapha added.

The Minister expressed gratitude to the Government and People of Japan for their timely donation towards boosting Guyana’s Flood Early Warning System.

Officials from UNITAR, UNOSAT, CIMA Research Foundation, and the staff of the Ministry’s Hydrometeorological Service were also recognised for their contribution to the project.