Sea level rise threat assessment underway
Stakeholders briefed

By Samantha Alleyne
Stabroek News
October 28, 2000

Stakeholders were briefed yesterday on the status of an ongoing assessment of bio-physical effects and socio-economic impacts of the rise in sea level in Guyana and the potential for adaptation to the threat.

Hydrologist of the Caribbean Meteorological Institute based in Barbados, Kailas Narayan, who heads the project, conducted a seminar at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to brief stakeholders on his work.

Narayan said his work would entail conducting a vulnerability and risk assessment on the Guyana coast due to sea level rise. He said Caribbean Planning for Adaptation to Climate Change (CPACC) had projected that the sea level will rise by 20 centimetres by 2020, 50 centimetres by 2050 and 90 centimetres by the end of the century.

Narayan said he would do an analysis, using these projections, to examine how the coast would be affected.

The impacts to be considered in Narayan's assessment include land loss by inundation and erosion, population risk, infrastructure loss, and mangrove loss. The hydrologist has already spent three of his scheduled four weeks here collecting data to assist him in his work.

He said he had been meeting personnel from various agencies and had received some feedback on what was being done to prepare for the threat.

He said the exercise required mathematical modelling to arrive at solutions to the effects of the rise in sea level. This model will give a representation of what was likely to happen over the next couple of decades. This would be put in a mathematical formula and a solution worked out.

The hydrologist pointed out that the model represented an approximation and he was trying to minimise the errors by putting as much information as possible into the model.

He noted that maintenance of the sea defence was an ongoing problem and would become more complicated with the sea level rise.

At the end of his stint here, Narayan will return to Barbados to do analyses and come up with firm conclusions in order to prepare recommendations on what should be done to soften the effects of the phenomenon.

"We know the situation could create disaster. We have to see how we can reduce the impact by preparing for it," Narayan stated.

The project is being undertaken by CPACC in collaboration with the Caribbean Meteorology Institute.

The seminar yesterday targeted officials from the University of Guyana, the Cyril Potter College of Education, the media, the EPA, the Ministry of Works, the Coastal Zone Inter-agency Committee and land use specialists. The workshop was held to sensitise stakeholders on what was being done to address the threat of the rise in sea level and to give them a chance to have some input on what they think should be done.

Narayan stressed that public awareness was essential and recommended that sea level rise and its impacts be included in the school curriculum.

A preliminary report on Narayan's work will be submitted to the EPA by November, but the deadline for the final report is March next year.

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