Guyana goes back to Dutch to solve drainage woes

Guyana goes back to Dutch to solve drainage woes

NOVEMBER 24, 2015 | BY | Government has announced a “holistic” approach to the country’s drainage and irrigation systems. Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson (centre, left) during the meeting with the Dutch Risk Reduction (DRR) Team and local engineers. Present also is Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder.The David Granger administration, is talking with the Government of The Netherlands, which has signaled intentions to play a key role through the provision of consultancy services.

Photo: Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson (centre, left) during the meeting with the Dutch Risk Reduction (DRR) Team and local engineers. Present also is Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder.

According to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure yesterday, Minister David Patterson met with a three-member team from the Government of the Netherlands’ Dutch Risk Reduction Team (DRR-Team). 

The consultancy would be critical as it was the Dutch who had designed the majority of the drainage structures and canals along the coastlands in the three counties where miles of farmlands are located. With Guyana below sea level, the kokers, sluices and drains have been seen as part of the Dutch legacy.

The team, which arrived in Guyana Sunday evening, will work in a consultancy capacity over the next few days.
The meeting was held in the Boardroom at the Ministry of Agriculture with Noel Holder, Minister of Agriculture, also present.

Patterson said that the partnership with the Netherlands would lend to a comprehensive approach to drainage and irrigation in Guyana.

The assistance would be critical especially in light of the level of rainfall in recent years. In July, Guyana recorded about eight inches of rainfall in less than 24 hours.

“Arising out of that, the Government felt that it was time we had a more holistic view, not only of Georgetown but the nation,” Minister Patterson said. He added that while work would have been done in the past to address Guyana’s drainage issues, a more “comprehensive” approach was urgently needed.

Yesterday’s meeting came four months after Minister Patterson would have made a request for assistance.
On July 21 he wrote to the Dutch seeking assistance in a number of areas, including urban drainage; hydraulic and coastal engineering; water resource management and planning; and disaster and risk management.

Rob Steijn, Team Leader for the DRR-Team, emphasised the importance of proper water management to a nation’s development. The visiting DRR-Team also consisted of civil engineer, Fokke Westebring and social scientist, Judith Klostermann.

The meeting also saw the attendance of nearly two dozen local officials, including engineers from across the administrative regions.

Additionally, a presentation on Guyana’s drainage was made. During this presentation, both local and international players shared information and posed relevant questions on the way forward. Of significant importance to the visiting team were the highlighted causes of flooding in Guyana, which included an increase in impervious areas; infilling of drains; reduction of maintenance; use of drains for refuse disposal; establishment of illegal housing on drainage reserves; relative rise in sea levels; and inadequacy of secondary and roadside drainage systems.

Also of significance was the recognition that flooding has increasingly worsened over the years, with the second highest amount of rainfall in decades being recorded in July 2015.

The DRR-Team is scheduled to leave Guyana on Friday morning. Their visit will see them conducting a number of land visits as well as a flyover to get a better understanding of Guyana’s drainage system. The team will also be visiting some local agencies, including the Guyana Hydrometrical Department.

At the conclusion of the visit, the team is expected to produce recommendations which will in turn be used as part of a subsequent proposal from the Guyana Government for funding from an international agency, Klostermaan said.
The Dutch had colonized Essequibo and Demerara in the mid-17th century, leaving their footprint on names, buildings and other infrastructure.

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  • Sheik Mohamed Barkah Tullah Madude  On 11/26/2015 at 9:03 am

    You don’t need a bunch of Dutchmen to tell you, “You gat to clean the bleddy drains’ so the wata can drain” How stupid can you be?

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