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Dutch team recommends ways of tackling floods

Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson (at left) with members of the Dutch Risk Reduction team.

A Dutch Risk Reduction (DDR) team has recommended that Guyana continues to dredge its drainage system and ensure the water flows off the land properly and implement a high-tech system to improve water management.

The Minisyry of Public Infrastructure says that is one of seven key recommendations made by the team as Guyana continues to explore long-lasting solutions to flooding especially after periods of intense rainfall even during short duration.

After days of analysing Guyana’s drainage system, the Dutch Risk Reduction (DRR) Team last evening, November 26, 2015, presented its recommendations on the way forward for Guyana. Team Leader, Rob Steijn presented the team’s preliminary recommendations to a Guyanese team of experts who were accompanied by Minister of Public Infrastructure, David Patterson and Minister of Agriculture, Honourable Noel Holder.

The seven recommendations were to upgrade modelling capability; increase flood resilience of people and businesses; upgrade dredging capabilities and improve flow efficiency; develop long-term plans; develop and test a pilot project; develop and apply a life cycle approach for the drainage assets; and data management through digitisation. 

During remarks following a presentation by the DRR Team, Minister Patterson said that the observations made were “very informative”. He also said that he was impressed that, in just a few days, the team had managed to make spot on assessments of Guyana’s situation. Minister Patterson also thanked the team for its frankness.

“We don’t see it as a critique; it’s all a learning process,” he said.

Additionally, Minister Patterson indicated his support of some of the recommendations and expressed his anticipation for the final report. He also thanked the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Ernst Noorman, and the DRR Team for their collaboration and assistance.

The three-member DRR Team arrived in Guyana on Sunday evening and, since Monday, has been conducting analyses throughout the country. The team included Social Scientist, Judith Klostermann; and Civil Engineer, Fokke Westebring. Their trip involved a flyover of Guyana as well as a dozen interviews with local officials.

During the wrap-up session, Steijn noted that The Netherlands has significant experience in drainage since it, like Guyana, is low-lying. The majority of The Netherlands is below sea level.

According to Steijn, the team received much support during its time here in Guyana.

“Everything was arranged extremely well; it could not have been better. All persons we met were very knowledgeable and dedicated,” he emphasised.

During the presentation, Steijn delivered six key messages, including the need for an upgrade of Guyana’s drainage on both a technical and managerial level.

“If you don’t manage it properly, the system will fail and if your water system fails, your country will fail,” Steijn stressed.

He further emphasised that Guyana’s water system needed to be crucially addressed while he opined that the Government’s predictability to water issues must be improved. Additionally, he noted that short-term improvements, such as small-scale dredging, are possible.

“The main message is that we need a holistic approach,” he said.

He added that the issue must be attacked on all levels, from the planning stage right up to the enforcement of legislation. He said too that an integrated approach involving all stakeholders was necessary.

“A participatory approach leads to much more progress and faster implementation in the end,” he added.

However, Steijn’s presentation was not all doom and gloom. Rather, he noted that the observations were “not all bad”. He said, “There were good things and other things that need some improvement.”

Meanwhile, Steijn indicated that the analyses do not end upon the team’s exit from Guyana. He stressed that four days were not enough. Thus, he said that the team will return to the Netherlands and further analyse the data presented before completing its report. Last night’s discussions would also aid in the recommendations, Steijn revealed.

Minister Patterson stressed the importance of the report being more than just another report. He indicated that, since taking office, he would have realised that studies would have been previously done but their findings never implemented, a reality that needed to change.

Steijn also shared that the report will be completed before the end of the year. He projected that it would be finalised and formally handed over to the Guyana Government by mid-December.