Training programme targets sea defence master plan
Seashore surveys to resume
Stabroek News
January 23, 2004

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A sea defence management training workshop, from which a long-term plan is expected to emerge, opened on Wednesday at the European Union building, Sendall Place.

The workshop for institutional capacity building activities of the Guyana Sea Defences Shore Zone Management System is part of a two-year project. It aims at improving the ability of participating agencies to prepare a master plan for sea defence management by gathering and passing on the knowledge, expertise and skills necessary for such a project.

Chief River and Sea Defence Officer at the Ministry of Public Works and Communications, George Howard, read a speech prepared for Minister of Transport and Hydraulics Anthony Xavier, which said that the project aims at improving the people's ability to deal with sea defence issues and to find solutions. He noted that Guyana's coastline, which is below sea level, presents a challenge. He expressed the hope that the workshop would be able to impart up-to-date knowledge on Guyana's sea defence.

Howard said that 20 to 30 years ago surveys to monitor the seashore were done every two years. However, because of financial problems such surveys were stopped. The current programme would focus on the reintroduction of such surveys, so as to monitor the evolution of the shoreline. The programme's pilot area runs from Somerset and Berks in Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) to the Mahaica River in Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica).

All of the data collected during the course of the project will be used as a management tool to predict what is likely to happen to the sea defence and shoreline, find ways to strengthen the sea defence and to stop activities that may be detrimental to it.

Deputy Team Leader with the consultant, Royal Haskoning, Frank Wiersma, said the programme aims at providing the tools and training for more effective and efficient management of the sea defence.

More importantly, it should create a shift from reactive to proactive management.

He added that it is important to understand the status of the sea defence structures to prevent damage before it occurs.

The training programme was organised by the European Union and the Sea and River Defence Division of the Ministry of Public Works and Communications. The programme is a two-year one that began in 2003 and is scheduled to be completed in 2005.

Royal Haskoning in partnership with the International Institute for Geoinformation Sciences and Earth Observ-ation (ITC), Delft Hydraulics and SRKN'gineering are providing consultancy services.

Some of the agencies involved in the programme are the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commis-sion and the Guyana Natural Resources Agency.