THE Government of Japan, through the Japan Cooperation Agency (JICA), yesterday handed over the keys to eight long-reach excavators and two pontoons as part of component one of the rehabilitation of the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC).
The agreement, which materialised after a visit to Japan by former President Bharrat Jagdeo, is a two-part project, with an estimated cost of US$7.4M.
At the handing over, Prime Minister Samuel Hinds pointed to Guyana’s vulnerability to climate change, noting that the gesture will see the country being better prepared to deal with its effects. Making reference to the 2005 floods which wreaked havoc in Guyana, Mr. Hinds stated that such initiatives (provision of equipment) are appreciated as they ensure that livelihoods are not lost.
In 2011, JICA conducted a survey on the EDWC, following which a two-part agreement for US$3.5M and US$3.7M respectively was inked for the project that is expected to improve the flood control capacity of the main reservoir in Region 4.
“At present, there are five excavators and five pontoons that are working at the conservancy to ensure proper maintenance and operation of the facility….this venture will not only add to the fleet of excavators, but also assist in the flood control works,” he said.
The prime minister also spoke of works undertaken by the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), to reduce flooding countrywide, which has seen several structures cleared, de-silted and rehabilitated.
In addition, this component of the EDWC project, the World Bank Conservancy Adaptation project of which US$3.8M has been injected, will be the development of a technical foundation for a master plan of interventions within the EDWC.
To significantly reduce flooding effects, several initiatives have been embarked upon by the government, resulting in close to $20B injected over the past three years.
The NDIA undertook a number of projects among which are clearing and de-silting of canals and sluices and construction of kokers and conservancies countrywide.
The sum of $78M alone was invested for works to be completed at Buxton on the East Coast of Demerara, and $45M and $13M respectively at Grove and Garden of Eden on the East Bank Demerara.
“As such, farmers need to begin thinking about innovative ways in which they can support themselves in mitigating these conditions,” Prime Minister Hinds said.
He also called for farmers to adopt more flood tolerant varieties of crops, especially in the rice industry, which have proven viable.
Agriculture Minister Dr. Leslie Ramsammy, lauded the Japanese Government for the investment, and pointed to the fact that the excavators will help the country to better deal with the effects of climate change.
The eight excavators which were handed over will complement the existing fleet, bringing it to a total of 67, while the pontoons will add to the eight others of the NDIA.
“Considering the state of where our country was in 1990s, when there were no pontoons and a few excavators, this is a major accomplishment as the sector continues to grow and advance,’ Dr. Ramsammy said.
Speaking on the country’s bilateral relations, Minister Ramsammy added that the initiative demonstrates the strong ties the two countries share.
“Since the 2005 heavy downpour which has seen severe losses, we have had to date the same amount of downpour, but with minimum losses due to massive investment by Government in D&I over the years,” he said.
Citing the need for more to be done, and for all players to work collaboratively, the minister stated that unless there is effective D&I, the level of agriculture today cannot be sustained.
Japanese Ambassador to Guyana, Mr Yoshimasa Tezuka, stated that due to the high priority of the EDWC project, the Japanese Government decided to assist, pointing to the fact that the two countries also possess similar disaster threats.
Meanwhile, JICA’s Chief Representative, Shoji Ozawa, expressed his delight at handing over the excavators’ keys to the Guyana Government, as the venture will significantly assist in the climate change fight.
He added what JICA has initiated projects as part of its Disaster Management 2008-12 programme which was formalised to reduce damages caused by flooding through the procurement of equipment.
In 1970, JICA commenced work with the Guyana Government and to date, 15 grant projects have been successfully executed.
Chief Executive Officer, NDIA, Lionel Wordsworth, stated that the first component will see the supply of equipment for the EDWC, while the second will encompass rehabilitation of structures within the conservancy.