Minister unveils steps to deal with flood aftermath By Chamanlall Naipaul
Guyana Chronicle
January 8, 2004

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Following a meeting with several regional heads of administration a number of measures have been announced by the Ministry of Agriculture to deal with the aftermath of the recent heavy rainfall.

Minister of Fisheries, Crops and Livestock and acting Minister of Agriculture, Satyadeow Sawh, speaking at a press briefing at the conclusion of heads of Region 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, disclosed that two committees are to be formed immediately - one to deal with health issues that may arise when the excess water has receded, and the other to assess losses that may have been suffered as a result of flooding of their crops.

This method is being used the minister explained because past experience has shown that many persons claimed in excess of losses. However, he cautioned that the assessment does not mean automatic compensation but would have to be sanctioned by Cabinet before any disbursements are made.

Another decision which is to be expeditiously implemented is the preparation by regional administrations of short and long term plans to effect emergency drainage works, Sawh reported. He also announced that a "think thank" is soon to be formed to formulate plans to prevent the annual recurrence of flood related problems.

Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Dindyal Permaul said recognising the inadequacy of the present national drainage and irrigation system one of the long term strategies to deal with flooding is the redesigning of drainage and irrigation systems in nine selected areas across the country, and this is being facilitated by a $260M current study of the drainage and irrigation. At the moment funding is being sought from the Inter-American Bank (IDB) to implement the redesigned drainage and irrigation system, he added.

A consultancy contract valued at $262M for a feasibility study of Guyana's drainage and irrigation system (D &I) and to execute designs for new drainage infrastructure is ongoing, and is being executed the British firm Moot McDonald Limited.

The project is part of an Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) funded programme -the Agricultural Support Services Programme (ASSP).

On completion of the feasibility study a report would be submitted to the IDB, which would pave the way for funding of the rehabilitation of the D & I system in nine agricultural communities covering a total area of 120, 934 acres. The communities are from Regions 3, 4 and 6.

Dr. Permaul also disclosed that another strategy being pilot tested is the formation of Water Users' Associations in several areas on the West Demerara and Black Bush Polder. Asked how effective these associations have been, Dr. Permaul replied that it is too early to make an assessment, pointing out that training for the personnel of these associations are ongoing.

Regional heads also sharing the press briefing with the minister reported that no major flooding occurring in their respective regions. They attributed this to timely and effective maintenance of drainage and irrigation systems and adequate support from the central Ministry.

Chief Executive Officer of the National Drainage and Irrigation Board (NDIB), Ravi Narine reported that there were four areas of concern identified in Region 4 (Demerara/Mahaica) including Huntley, Cane Grove, Clonbrok, Nooten Zuil and Buxton.

At Huntley Narine explained that the drainage pump there was down because of mechanical problems but since last Monday morning it has been remedied and is in operation.

The problem at Clonbrook the CEO reported is that one of the doors on the sluice is not working and a team of technical personnel has been sent to investigate the problem, while a Nooten Zuil maintenance work on the sluice is ongoing which would be completed in time for the May/June rainy season.

Acting CEO of Guyana Sugar Corporation (GUYSUCO), Keith Ward reported that its pumping capacity has increased to 90-95%, up from 70-75% a week ago. However, he said the corporation's pump at Montrose is the only one that is inoperable presently.