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World Bank approves US$45M project to reduce Guyana’s flood risk

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The World Bank has approved a project to help Guyana adapt to climate change and reduce flood risk in its coastal regions.
This initiative is set to benefit around 320,000 people, approximately 40 per cent of the country’s population, including the most vulnerable, the World Bank said on Monday.
According to the bank, Guyana is among the countries most vulnerable to climate change. Studies have shown that rising sea levels, among the highest in the world, expose 100 percent of the country’s coastal agriculture and 66.4 percent of its coastal urban areas to flooding and erosion, with potential GDP losses that could exceed 46.4 percent.
It added that Guyana’s coastal drainage system comprises a unique, intricate network of canals, culverts, sluices, and pumps. Over time, its operational capacities have declined due to insufficient investments in maintenance and growing flood risk arising from urbanisation and the impacts of climate change. Following the 2005 floods, the government re-emphasised the importance of flood risk management and increased the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority’s budget.

File photo: Farmers and residents of Mahaica, Region Five (Mahaica-Berbice) battling floodwaters in 2019

The new Coastal Adaptation and Resilience Project, the bank said, will build on existing efforts to enhance flood risk management in Guyana. The project will repair or replace more than 45 drainage infrastructure assets, focusing on sluices. Investments will take into consideration projected land uses, population growth, urbanisation, and climate change impacts to enhance drainage functionality for efficient rainfall runoff discharge, improve flood protection, and strengthen irrigation services.
“This initiative builds on a long-standing engagement between the World Bank and Guyana on strengthening resilience to flooding and natural hazards. With this operation, we are reinforcing Guyana’s efforts to maximize disaster risk management while protecting lives and reducing inequalities in the long term,” World Bank Group Resident Representative for Guyana and Suriname, Diletta Doretti said.
“This project is also a critical component of Guyana’s Low-Carbon Development Strategy, aligning with the country’s broader vision for climate resilient growth,” she added.
The project, the bank added, will work closely with Guyana’s Agriculture Ministry to help it effectively manage and operate the drainage system. It will upgrade the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority’s asset management system, develop technical standards for flood risk management in urban areas, and provide training to enhance personnel capacity for system operation and maintenance.
According to the bank, the project is a US$45 million grant, financed by the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund, which was set up and funded by Norway. Under the agreement, Norway compensates Guyana for curbing greenhouse gas emissions caused by deforestation and forest degradation. Guyana channels these payments into implementing its low-carbon development strategy. The Coastal Adaptation and Resilience Project is part of these efforts.

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