ONE might think that Guyana, the land of many waters, surely could not experience drought or desertification. Yet, our country is particularly vulnerable to drought, or prolonged periods without water, as we experience two very distinct wet and dry seasons. It is globally recognised that human activity has been influencing the global climate system through global warming, which could alter the rainfall patterns of tropical countries like Guyana. In fact, droughts affect more than 55 million people every year around the world. The United Nations states that drought is one of the most destructive natural disasters in terms of the loss of life arising from impacts, such as wide-scale crop failure, wildfires and water stress.
In addition to drought, human activities also contribute to desertification – the degradation of land in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas. It occurs because dryland ecosystems, which cover over one-third of the world’s land area, are extremely vulnerable to overexploitation and inappropriate land use. Poverty, political instability, deforestation, overgrazing and bad irrigation practices can all undermine the productivity of the land.
For these reasons, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is observed yearly to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. The day is a unique moment to remind everyone that land degradation neutrality is achievable through problem-solving, strong community involvement and cooperation at all levels.
This year, the theme of the International Day against Desertification and drought is “Rising up from drought together”, and will be observed on June 17. The global observance of the event will take place in Spain, a country that is particularly vulnerable to drought.
THE LOW CARBON DEVELOPMENT STRATEGY
By now, you know that the LCDS 2030 is being updated to reflect the current global and local environment. A key part of the Strategy looks at water resources management, and how Guyana can better prepare for the impacts of climate change, including impacts to water resources. Among the measures proposed are water management plans tailored for each administrative region.
The LCDS 2030 also aims to create an ecosystem economy which balances low impact mining and forestry to enhance employment and income generation opportunities, including improving planning and recovery in mining areas, and exploring options for land reclamation and reforestation of mined areas to better manage land resources.
MANAGING LAND RESOURCES IN GUYANA
The management of land resources, implementation of Guyana’s action plans to combat desertification and drought and ensuring our obligations to the UNCDD are met fall mainly with the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission. The Commission is supported by other government and non-governmental organisations, including the EPA, the Office of Climate Change and Environment, the Guyana Forestry Commission, the Food and Agricultural Organisation, and the United Nations Development Programme.
To complement the management of land resources, water resources are managed by the Guyana Water Inc. (commercial), the Ministry of Housing and Water (policy), the Hydrometerological Service (construction of wells), and the Environmental Protection Agency (freshwater resources and discharge from operations).
Did you know? The word land is mentioned six times in our national anthem, and eight if you count the other words associated with land.
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