DRAFT March 24, 1996
I. Basic Features of the Sector
B. Sea Defences
C. Drainage and Irrigation
D. Hydrometeorological Service
II. Policies of the Sector
A. Past Evolution of Policies: Sea Defences
B. Description of Current Policies: Sea Defences
C. Past and Current Policies: Drainage and Irrigation
III. Description of the Principal Issues and Constraints Facing the Sector
IV. Sectoral Objectives
A. Sea Defences
B. Drainage and Irrigation
C. Hydrometeorological Service
V. Policy Recommendations and Their Technical Justifications
A. Sea Defences
B. Drainage and Irrigation
C. Hydrometeorological Service
VI. Recommended Legislative Changes
A. Sea Defences
B. Drainage and Irrigation
C. Hydrometeorological Service
VII. Preliminary Investment Program
A. Sea Defences
B. Drainage and Irrigation
C. Hydrometeorological Service
[Back to Top]
[Back to Top]
The coastal plain of Guyana, a narrow strip of land stretching 425 kilometers between the borders of Venezuela and Suriname, lies below sea level and is subjected to flooding and erosion. The developed portion between the Pomeroon and Corentyne rivers is approximately 270 kilometers in length and the width of cultivable lands increases from about 10 kilometers to 25 kilometers from Essequibo to Berbice. The zone is of strategic importance to the country's economy. Although its surface area is approximately 5% of the country's total, approximately 90% of its population (or 675,000 people) lives here. The country's major crops of rice, sugar and coconut are cultivated here and most of its townships are located along the coast.
This area is protected from the intrusion of saline water by mangroves, dikes, sluices and sea walls built over the past two centuries. With the extensive drainage, irrigation and flood control network, the sea defences serve to make the coast habitable and cultivable. Without this hydraulic system, cultivation and settlement would have to be located much farther inland.
Until the mid 1970s sea defences and drainage and irrigation accounted for most of Guyana's capital expenditure. However, during the 1980s the country's economy went into rapid decline. As a result, less expenditure was allocated for maintenance and repairs of sea defences, resulting in the deteriorated state of the country's coastal defences. Over the years approximately forty kilometers of sea defences have either collapsed or are on the point of failure due to inadequate maintenance.
[Back to Top]
Guyana's sea defences have evolved over time, in response to extensions of the settled areas and changing perceptions of the nature of the threat from the sea. Today it is understood that the design of the defences has to take into account the following five factors:
First, the land level of the coast lies below that of mean high water spring tides by about one metre, hence, any development along the coast must be protected against flooding during high tides. A clay embankment is recommended as it is inexpensive and watertight.
Secondly, incoming waves, which are much higher during high tides, will break against any obstruction they encounter. Therefore, any sea defence structure must be resistant to wave action. Earthen embankments will erode under wave action, therefore either the seaward face of these must be adequately protected or other forms of sea defences, e.g., concrete or sheets piling walls, should be used.
Thirdly, the foreshore of Guyana experiences the passage of large mudbanks that originate from deposits of the Amazon River. Wherever mudbanks are present, the foreshore will be high and sand and shell beaches may form, a process known as accretion. At locations between mudbanks, the foreshore will experience erosion and the levels will be much lower. The seaward tow of any sea defences at these locations should be placed below the erosion or scour level or else undermining will occur which will cause failure.
Fourthly, the fine nature of the predominant foreshore material does not encourage its deposition against barriers, so groynes are not very effective as protection structures along the Guyana sea coast. These structures are useful where the transported material is sand that deposits easily. As such, groynes may be useful along the estuaries where sand is present.
A fifth factor to be considered in sea defence designs is the weak nature of the foreshore soil. Embankments should have gentle slopes or else the earth will slide and heavy structures will experience excessive settlement over time.
Owing to the lack of adequate maintenance in recent decades, the action of these factors has brought about a situation in which 40 kilometers of the existing 170 kilometers of embankment protection are in critical condition and need rehabilitation. The mangrove forests along this length had been destroyed and along the remaining 130 kilometers of embankment protection, they are eroding rapidly. The other areas, approximately 255 kilometers, are protected by sand banks and mangrove forests that are currently stable but undergoing minor erosion at some locations.
[Back to Top]
In Guyana, the drainage and irrigation (D&I) system was developed by sugar estate owners along the coastlands to draw water from the marshy backlands behind their estates. The operation system today is still much the same as it was when it was originally constructed. Many secondary drains do not drain directly into the sea but into a facade drainage canal running parallel to the coastline, which drains into the sea through a pair of sluice gates. Drainage for the whole area therefore is dependent on the efficient management of this facade canal.
The efficient operation of the system is also dependent on regular maintenance. Canals require weeding and clearing three times a year. If this does not take place, vegetation slows water flow and this causes the canals to silt up more quickly, which further slows the flow. Over the past fifteen years the neglect of essential maintenance to the D&I infrastructure has led to the current situation in which much of the system is not operating to full capacity, and some sections are completely inoperable.
[Back to Top]
The Hydrometeorological Service operates the National Meteorological Station Network (NMSN) and the National Hydrological Station Network (NHSN) and evaluates the climate and water resources. By collecting, processing, archiving, retrieving and analysing the data from the NMSN and the NHSN, it can provide information to agencies that are planning and designing agricultural projects and maintaining the sea defences. It also analyses the western hemispheric lower and upper atmospheric weather data and ensures the availability of such details for the necessary forecasts. Therefore, its main role is to monitor and collect data on the atmosphere, water, and climate, with a view to identify the changes and provide early warnings when necessary.
The Chief Hydrometeorological Officer heads the Hydrometeorological Service, and comes under the Ministry of Agriculture, reporting to the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture. Expenditures incurred by the Hydrometeorological Service are approved and monitored by the staff responsible to the Permanent Secretary within the Ministry of Agriculture.
Besides its regular duties the Hydrometeorological Service collects information on long-term climate trends, water flows and tides, to provide early warning of potential effects of climate change.
[Back to Top]
[Back to Top]
1. Period 1600 to 1855
The Dutch turned the swamps of the coastal plain into thriving agricultural areas by draining the lands with a system of seawalls, earthen embankments, canals, drains and sea sluices. When the British gained control of Guyana in 1814, they continued this type of agricultural infrastructure development. The Dutch initially planted cotton and tobacco and later introduced sugar, while the British emphasised sugar production. During 1814 sugar production by the Dutch was 5,000 tons while under the British in 1824 production rose to more than 40,000 tons. During this period, plantations owned by individual proprietors were relatively small (tens or hundreds of acres) and extensive use was made of slave labour, both by the Dutch and the British. At the beginning of the nineteenth century, there were more than 400 such holdings.
Proprietors developed their holdings or plantations perpendicular to the coastline, which were empoldered from the sea by means of earthen embankments. Erosion protection to these embankments was provided by the natural mangrove and courida vegetation found along the coastline. Erosion of the foreshore resulted in the recession of the seaward fringe of the mangrove forests. Continued recession exposed the earthen embankments to wave action and these were inevitably breached. At these instances the proprietors would remove their line of protection farther inland. Landowners did not consider more effective and therefore more costly means of coastal protection since their relatively small holdings could not support these expenditures and there was no shortage of land during the retreat of the shoreline. Comparison of maps of the East Coast Demerara produced during 178 and 1953 showed that the area between Georgetown and LBI has receded between 1,800 and 3,000 feet.
During the first half of the nineteenth century a combination of social, economic and technical factors greatly influenced and caused dramatic changes to the system of small estate ownership. These factors included the abolition of slavery, lowering of the market prices for sugar and technological advances in factory processing. The first two of these combined to make the small estate an uneconomical venture and many of these were abandoned or sold to larger groups. The larger estate groups improved on their production techniques and by the middle of the nineteenth century the arrival of cheap indentured labour, mainly from India, enhanced their economic viability.
2. Period 1855 to 1945
During the latter half of the nineteenth century, emphasis in coastal zone management shifted from one of intermittent retreat of the shoreline embankment to one of strengthening and maintaining this structure. This shift was necessary since the larger estates installed more expensive infrastructure and therefore it was more economical to reinforce the coastal protection rather than to abandon the infrastructure. Further, the depth of the inland cultivable space was attaining its limit at many reaches along the coast. Infrastructure installation by the Government, e.g., ports, railways and roads required protection also.
The major event that triggered the shifting of this emphasis from one of retreat to one of holding the line was the flooding of Kingston, Georgetown, during 1855. This event is suitably described by James Rodway's article published in "The Argosy" dated March 14, 1903, part of which follows:
"In 1853 the Governor suggested to the Duke of Newcastle that pile groynes would be cheaper than the granite wall relating to sea defences at Fort Groyne. In the same year Mr. J. M. Johnstone, Health Officer for Georgetown, reported that the colony lands and steamboat stelling (now the Slaughter House) had been nearly all washed away, some of the lots were covered with water from breaches in the sea dams; if something were not done, the lighthouse would soon be standing in water and the whole of Kingston flooded at every tide.
The Colony Pays at last
"Early in September 1854, Governor Wodehouse was informed that H. M. Government was no longer prepared to sanction any expenditure for the fort and sea wall or for the preservation of the military buildings. He at once called an extraordinary meeting of the Combined Court, which met on the 4th, when the Governor informed them of the matter, and adjourned to the 6th. The debate on the sea wall question by Mr. Robert Smith, who seconded by Mr. Peter Rose, moved that the colony be pledged to decline altogether to contribute any part of the expense of either wall or military buildings. As an amendment Mr. J. L. Smith seconded by Mr. G. J. Luckie, moved that the Court keep up the sea wall, but hoped that the cost of the military buildings might continue to be borne by the Home Government. The votes on the amendment were equal and as the Governor declined to give his casting vote, it was lost. On the suggestion of the Governor for some conciliatory measures it was agreed to adjourn for an hour. On their return it was decided by 12 to 2 that the Court would provide for the maintenance of the sea wall and fort in the earnest hope that the military buildings would remain on the parliamentary estimates.
The Dams Go Down
"The matter appeared to have been settled so far, but, as usual in such cases, there was some delay in deciding upon the cheapest method of doing the work. But as the 'tides wait for no man,' and as the patching was stopped, the natural result was the great inundation predicted for several years before. On the 11th of January 1855, John Fredericks Bourne, Colonial Civil Engineer, reported that for a week previous the surf had been extremely high and had done more injury than in the whole of the previous six months. He estimated that five to ten thousand tons of loose stone had been washed into deep water, leaving almost nothing in front of the dam which they had been enlarging with convict labour as a temporary defence. On account of the high surf they were unable to do much; it became, therefore, of the greatest importance that breakwaters be immediately constructed. He suggested that the breakwater in front of Camp House be extended to three or four hundred feet, and the wall renewed and laid with Portland cement. The Royal Engineer at the barracks also wrote criticising the patchwork nature of the defences.
"The Colonial Engineer's estimate of the cost of his proposed works amounted to $130,000 of which $70,000 would be required that year. The Governor called a special meeting of the Combined Court, on the 19th January, and on the following day they resolved that no time should be lost in undertaking the work, the financial side of the matter being left over to the annual session.
Kingston Great Flood
"Now came the crowning catastrophe, which was reported to Sir George Grey on the 23rd February, 1855. On the afternoon of the 17th, the sea rose during spring-tide to a height, and with a violence unknown for nearly fifty years, and, in the course of a few hours, swept away nearly the whole of the upper part of the embankment, and inundated the military land and the adjoining suburb of Kingston. This continued for the next two days during which little could be done towards repairing damages or preventing further destruction of property. Camp House, occupied as an ordinance store and quarters, the removal of which he had already recommended, was at once surrounded with water to the depth of four or five feet and rendered very unsafe; the Governor, therefore, arranged for the house to be taken down as the timbers were good; the patients in the military hospital were removed and he hoped to save that building.
"This information made a great impression - the old people still date events from the year of the flooding of Kingston. On the 29th, "The Gazette" reported that Camp House was abandoned, its stables and cow-sheds swept away. The public road was flooded twice a day; the sea thundered over and through the breaches; the city was in danger; the Lighthouse liable to be undermined; Kingston a swamp; and the coast from Plantations Thomas to Ogle, covered. A local rhymer broke forth into a string of verses on the lines of Ingoldby. The following is a sample:
'Be sober, my muse and gravity tell
What sad havoc and ruin all Kingston befell
How the sea swept away all the dam and its mouses,
Made canals of the streets, Noah's arks of the houses
How some bridges blew up, how some houses came down,
And together went wandering over the town.'
"On the 17th of March, it was stated that the flood was worse and worse at every tide; the railway had become the sea dam, all the gardens were destroyed, and even the Lamaha canal near its exit was salted.
"The sum of $105,870 was spent that year in driving back the water, against an estimate of $70,000, but as the Governor stated that the works were absolutely necessary, the Court made no objection.
"There is a tablet near the Round House at the sea wall (the site of the ill-fated Camp House) which states that this wall was commenced at the battery in 1855 and completed to that point in 1860. No doubt some progress had been made by this extension, but anyone can see that it is a very small portion of the whole length. When, in that year, the estimates were under consideration by the Court, Mr. Grant asked how long such sums ($70,000) that year were to be continued, to which the Colonial Engineer replied that the work was highly necessary for they were obliged to repair several times during the previous year.
Wall Extended to Kitty
"For many years it really seemed as if the work was interminable. Thousands and thousands of tons of stone were thrown along a line to Kitty, but for a long time no attempt was made to form a wall beyond the end of Camp Street. In 1872 a commencement was made from the Kitty end, but two years later 207 feet slid forward into the sea. Baron Siccama took up the matter, and by his advice a strong mud dam, faced with stone was made up and finished in April 1882, as stated on the second tablet near the Round House. The present coping wall of concrete from the end of Camp Street to Kitty was erected in 1880 when the mud dam suffered a great deal from want of protection from the surf. The cost of sea defences in that year was over $16,000.
"In 1873, Plantation Belair was endangered; the wash at Kitty corner became so great as to endanger not only the estate, but Georgetown itself. Something had to be done and Mr. Hogg set to work to lay down a breakwater from Kitty to Turkeyen. From June 1873 to December 1878, he spent 80,000. In March 1879, he petitioned the Court for a loan of 30,000; he then stated that the work done had been of the greatest benefit to the town, but he did not ask anything from the public treasury. His request was for a loan for twenty years at six percent, which was granted by the Combined Courts. Mr. Tinne told the Court of Policy that he considered the eruptions of the sea as similar to a foreign invasion, and that they should be dealt with in the same way. Some doubts were expressed in the Combined Court as to the security of Belair; which were justified later when the estate was abandoned; however, the loan was entirely repaid by Mr. Hogg."
Integral in Mr. Rodway's observations are three components that regulate sea defences policy in Guyana to this day. These are:
(a) Responsibility and cost sharing
(c) Physical works
During the period 1855 to the Second World War responsibility for sea defences in Guyana shifted from the plantation owners to Government. Various Enactments that gradually effected these changes were:
By an Ordinance passed in 1883, the Director of Public Works was given wide powers over the control of the foreshore of Guyana. Included in these powers was the authority to direct estates to carry out, at their own expense, any coastal protection work he deemed necessary. Provision was also made in the 1883 Ordinance for money to be advanced for any necessary coastal protection work.
By Ordinance No. 7 of 1906 a body known as the East Demerara Sea Defence Commissioners was constituted, with the Director of Public Works as Chairman. All the sea defences on the East Coast District (approximately 40 km) were vested in these Commissioners, who were given powers to levy assessments at a uniform rate for each acre on all properties in the district or pay for both annually recurrent and capital works. The Commissioners were also given power to raise money on loan for sea defence purposes.
In 1913 the Sea Defences Ordinance was passed and under this, nine sea defence districts were formed, each having a local Board of Sea Defence Commissioners. These nine districts thus delineated, controlled practically the whole of the occupied coastline of Guyana. These District Sea Defence Boards were responsible for the maintenance of existing sea defences and the construction of new works. Under this Ordinance, one-fourth of the cost of maintenance and new works was borne by the Government and three-fourths paid by rates levied on the land.
In 1933, the nine Sea Defence Boards of Commissioners were abolished by Ordinance and a single Sea Defence Board substituted. The Sea Defence Board is now responsible for the maintenance, management and construction of all works in declared sea defence districts. An amending Ordinance, No. 4 of 1937, enacted that "from the first day of January nineteen hundred and thirty-seven all costs and charges incurred in the construction or maintenance of any sea defence together with all expenses of administration shall be defrayed from such monies as may be provided from time to time by Legislative Council."
These arrangements by which Government finances the total costs of protection of the Guyana coasts continue to the present day, but they obviously have not provided the requisite levels of funding for the past two decades. By these various Enactments, the management responsibilities for sea defences were transferred to the Director of Public Works.
Of great interest are the types of sea defence structures advocated and used during this period. Baron Siccama, a Dutch coastal specialist, was involved in sea defences and related matters in Guyana during the period 1855 to 1891. Although only a short period of this time was spent in Guyana, he made valuable suggestions on designs of sea defences, improvements to the Georgetown Harbour, realignment of the Best Groyne to reduce siltation of the Demerara River bar and methods to be taken to prevent the movement of the Boerasirie Channel. His recommendations were based on extensive reviews of the hydrographic and morphological data available then.
His suggestions on sea defences construction along East and West Coasts Demerara are similar to those being proposed today. Extracts from a report he prepared for the Public Works Department while he was the Colonial Civil Engineer during 1891 read:
"In comparing the depth of water in front of the seawall of Georgetown observed in 1879, with those found at present, no notable change can be found. The Best flats are also unchanged and going further out the lines of equal depths have nowhere approached the coastline since 1870, except in front of Lusignan spit where the depths seem to increase, but only slowly.
"When, therefore, the loss of land can only be attributed to the action of the surf on soft ground, the most rational way of arresting this erosion is to cover the disintegrating soil with hard substance. Stone is in this case the best, because it is at hand and the least costly and imperishable of all the - in this Colony - procurable materials.
"If instead of the very inadequate bust packing now used to cover the outward slope of the dams, stone were properly laid and of sufficient weight not to be displaced by the surf, a permanent work would take the place of a make-shift, costing much in repairs and in most cases inefficient.
"The most important factor in placing the sea defences of this Colony in a better and safer condition is the cost at which stone can be laid down.
"The present mode of transporting this material from the quarries in the Essequibo River is by sailing punts, which is slow, uncertain and costly. To carry out such works in an adequate and efficient manner it is urgently required to be able to bring large quantities of materials to the spot in short spaces of time. It will be therefore necessary to increase largely the number of punts and also to have the services of two strong and handy tow-boats.
"As a general rule, it would be advisable to protect with stone such points as are in immediate danger, like the outfall and shipping headlands on the "Waller's Delight," "Ruimzigt" sea-dams, points on "Leonora" and "Stewartville" on the West Coast, and the "Plaisance", "Better Hope", "Triumph", and "Cove-and-John" dams on the East Coast. Also, parts of the Bel Air sea front still require attention.
"The East Coast, however, is at present in the best position. There the land is forming and the foreshores are generally landing up. This is observable from the Mahaica Creek mouth as far as Triumph, and this deposit will probably find its way further eastward and form a natural protection, at least in the immediate future.
"The works which should be undertaken at the earliest opportunity are therefore not so important as might be supposed, after protecting the point before-named, with a stone pitching. The intermediate bays can be guarded against further erosion by protecting with stone such places where the sea is undermining the upper surface of the land. Where these steep sides or escarps are situated, a long way seaward from the sea-dam, a simple filling in with hard materials will prevent the sea from sapping away the foreshore, and in this way the belt of courida will form an efficient sea-breaker for the dam. At Plantation Ogle, where this method was adopted with great success, a wide belt of foreshore and bush was preserved for the most exposed points where the foreshore has totally disappeared; and where the surf beats upon the dam it will be necessary to place two tons of stone per foot running as a pitching on the seaward slope."
These suggestions must be deemed as extraordinary due to the fact that more than 100 years after, we are still advocating these measures, i.e., stone or riprap protection to earthen embankments, and we are faced with similar logistical problems, i.e., hauling stone from the quarries in the Bartica vicinity. Also, Mr. Siccama pointed out the importance of maintaining tree cover in the foreshore.
Unfortunately, Mr. Siccama's proposals were not given adequate consideration and during the period 1900 to 1930 great emphasis was placed on the construction of an extensive network of groynes. Messrs. Edward Case, Cecil Case and Frank Gray whose registered office in the year 1900 was in London, UK, were the proponents of this scheme. This team marketed a groyne system known as the "Case" groyne that they claimed was highly successful at Dymchurch and Deal, England between the years 1872 to 1898 where recovery of the low water line ranged between 50 to 400 feet. Two of these groynes were installed west of the Mahaica Creek during 1899 and were not responsive to trapping material throughout their lengths. In fact, erosion was experienced along the seaward ends and accretion at the ends adjacent to the shore. The Colonial Civil Engineer's representative felt that the angle of placing was incorrect. Further experiments were performed and it was felt hat groynes were the solution to sea defences problem in Guyana.
The "Case" groyne system was installed on an extensive scale along the Essequibo and West and East Demerara coasts. In a letter to the Governor of Guyana dated 17 November, 1931, Mr. Gerald Case remarked: "After 30 years' experience in sea defence works I am of the opinion that nowhere in the world can be found a better example of the efficiency of groynes than the East Coast of Demerara." However, groynes installed along the West Demerara coast were experiencing deterioration and collapse. Along the Essequibo coast the presence of sand assisted groyne performance while along the East Coast of Demerara, the presence of a large mudbank prevented groyne deterioration during that time.
In the early thirties, there was serious erosion taking place at various parts of the East Coast Demerara. However, all other problems were overshadowed by the major sea defence breaches that occurred in the Mon Repos-Annandale area known as the "Nog Een Breach" in 1933 where before the difficult period had passed, more than $1 million had been spent to contain the breach.
Throughout this period erosion along different areas of the coastlands continued and retirement was necessary. Of note are the retirement of the Public Road between Mon Repos and Buxton and No. 51 to 66 along the Corentyne Coast. An island offshore of the No. 63 beach disappeared.
3. Period 1945 to 1975
Following the Second World War, Guyana, like other developing countries, experienced a tremendous feeling of national emergence. Colonial mastery was questioned and greater involvement of the Guyanese professionals was established. During this period tremendous expansion of resources took place in the country. Sugar production expanded two-fold between 1949 and 1960, rice production tripled and the amount of infrastructure installation was never experienced in Guyana. Together with construction of housing, roads, schools, etc., sea defences and drainage and irrigation were the front runners in these developments that provided a cornerstone in an independent Guyana.
During the early 1950s, the sea defence problem areas were most pronounced in Leguan, Wakenaam and the Essequibo coast, particularly between Hampton Court and Bounty Hall. However, by 1958, heavy erosion started between Seafield and Kingelly on the West Coast Berbice.
In March of the same year, two breaches in the seawall occurred at Enmore and by 1959 the area of Strathspay/Elizabeth Hall was seriously affected. Other areas, which were to be subjected to erosion and heavy wave attack, were Friendship in 1960, Vigilance/Bladen Hall in 1961, La Reconnaissance in 1962, and Buxton in 1964. To a lesser extent several areas on West Demerara became exposed and damaged, while on West Coast Berbice the erosion extended westward as far as Weldaad.
As a consequence of the major collapse of the sea defences in various parts of the country, a period of intense activity, attention, training of personnel, and provision of technical resources developed. These included the following four major studies and reports:
(i) Demerara Coastal Investigation, 1960-1962, Hydraulics Lab. Delft (UNDP).
(ii) Technical Review and Recommended Revision and Rehabilitation of Sea Defences in British Guiana, 1965, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USAID).
(iii) A Proposed Programme of Sea Defence Works n Guyana, 1968, Hydraulics Division, Ministry of Works and Hydraulics (Government of Guyana).
(iv) Report on Sea Defences Studies, 1972, NEDECO (IBRD).
These reports have served well the planning process of sea defences. However, with the passage of time and the lack of adequate, accurate and consistent data over the ensuing period, use must be made of them with the greatest caution.
During the period 1960 to 1975, a cadre of Guyanese professionals emerged who, although trained overseas, developed an understanding of sea defences requirements in their country. The Public Works Department and later the Hydraulics Division during this period boasted the only team ever assembled capable of monitoring, designing, constructing and maintaining sea defences in Guyana. New designs were established which considered the various factors previously highlighted in the reports and construction was undertaken throughout the sea coast of Guyana. These designs, different from Siccama's concepts, were ambitious and costly, but provided the sophistication required for an emerging nationhood.
The Government of Guyana undertook responsibility and cost sharing. Management was provided by a team of local engineers including Steve Nauruan, Barry Man-Son-Hing, Peppy Phang, Rollo Lee, Lawrence Charles, Pablo Ramsamooj, Mike Ragwen, Malcolm Ally, Edwin Lee, and Jai Ganesh. Sir William Halcrow and Partners of the United Kingdom, and NEDECO of Holland, provided consultancy services in part.
Designs entailed the placement of an earthen embankment on the landward side, a concrete wavescreen to prevent wave overtopping and to protect against erosion of earth, a concrete grouted boulder slope to foreshore erosion level and outer protection of gabion baskets and steel or timber toe piles to safeguard against further lowering of the foreshore. Construction of these defences took place along the East Coast of Demerara between Annandale and Hope during 1965 and 1966, between Success and Triumph during 1966 and 1967, between Kitty and Liliendaal from 1967 to 1969, between Ogle/Success and Enmore/Nootenzuil from 1970 to 1973, between Fort Groyne and Kitty from 1973 to 1975. Various locations along West Coast Demerara and Essequibo Coast were also protected.
Construction was undertaken either by the Government directly through a mechanism known as force account or by contractors such as Balfour Beatty and Wimpey. This period saw the emergence of local contractors who gained valuable experience in sea defence works. Two of these were Hack Brothers and Torrington and Rayman.
One serious shortcoming that the improvement in social welfare created was the allocation of housing lots next to the sea defences. Formerly, sugar workers were housed in logies adjacent to sugar factories and cane fields that were located away from the sea defence lines. Land allocation by the sea defences at areas such as Tuschen, Ocean View and Annandale place additional pressure in holding the line.
4. Period 1975 to 1990
The downturn of the economy during this period resulted in a curtailment of sea defence construction throughout Guyana, except for the continuation of a project team along the Essequibo Coast where severe erosion was experienced between Three Friends and Hampton Court areas. Here the riprap designs advocated by Mr. Siccama and improved by Sir William Halcrow and Partners were used extensively for the first time in Guyana.
In 1988 the Sea Defences Act and the Drainage and Irrigation Act were amended and transfer of function for the responsibility, maintenance, cost sharing and management in regions was shifted to the Regional Democratic Councils that did not perform creditably, due to the lack of finance and expertise. No new developments were made in sea defence designs.
The consequences of this de-emphasis in sea defence construction during this period were the resignation or reallocation of trained staff, the deterioration of existing structures that required upgrading, inadequate data collection for monitoring sea defence condition and unchecked erosion in non-protected areas that led to many breaches at the end of this period.
The expertise of the force account staff and the local contractors declined or disappeared since no major construction activities were undertaken. The pressure caused by land allocation along the sea defences was exacerbated through further encroachment, either legally or illegally.
[Back to Top]
As noted, the responsibilities for the maintenance of sea defences were assigned to the Regional Democratic Authorities in 1988. However, due to poor performance of the regional system, these responsibilities were handed over to the Hydraulics Division of the Ministry of Agriculture in 1992. The EC-funded Infrastructure Rehabilitation Programme (from 1988 to 1992) enabled the Hydraulics Division to carry out some emergency works. The Project Execution Unit for sea defences was formed in 1994 to manage donor agency programmes funded by EEC, IDA, IDB and CDB to the value of approximately US$40 million.
The main objective of short term planning is to rehabilitate the critical coastal protection structures. The Government of Guyana has received funding of approximately US$40 million to rehabilitate approximately 26 kilometres of these works. This programme has a duration of three years and a Project Executing Unit (PEU) has been set up (1994) within the Ministry of Agriculture to manage and execute these works. The short term provision will not be adequate to finance the 40 kilometres of critical sea defences. Thus, the quest for additional financial resources will need to be pursued.
Presently the Sea and River Defence Board bears the legal responsibility for all declared sea and river defence matters. Physical execution of works is performed by the Hydraulics Division as agent to the Board. The Project Executing Unit formed during 1994 to manage donor agencies funding has no legal mandate but has been given a measure of self accounting and procurement that is more liberal than that of the public service.
Historical events along the shoreline and current studies indicate that rock armouring to clay embankments is the most suitable and cost-effective method of protection. Recent studies have examined various design details including:
- Crest elevation
- Toe elevation
- Extent of toe protection
- Rock size and layer thickness
The lifetime of the structure is the main factor determining the values of these parameters. Of course, a structure assigned a longer lifetime will be more costly in the construction stage but will require lower long term maintenance.
The cost of rock supply and placement is the major item that determines the overall costs of this type of construction.
Rock quantities per metre of sea defence recommended by various studies are:
|DHV||7 t||22 t||29 t|
|SRKN'gineering||14 t||26 t||40 t|
|NEDECO||5||20 t||25 t|
In the medium term, issues of shoreline management will be addressed in an integrated and environmentally sound manner. The Inter-American Development Bank has proposed a 5-year programme to enable the Government to resolve these issues. The objectives of this programme are to:
(a) reduce and control avoidable environmental and economic losses due to shoreline erosion and flooding;
(b) promote environmentally sound land use decisions as a basis for sustainable development of the coastal zone; and
(c) build a national capacity for integrated coastal zone management by improving the institutional and technical capacity for coastal zone management.
At the beginning of 1994, a consulting team commenced the preparation of a Design and Feasibility Study for this Shorezone Management Programme. An interim report presented during August 1994 identified a medium-term strategy for shorezone management. It recommends the rehabilitation of the worst stretches of sea defence together with a monitoring programme for the shorezone. The latter programme will include geodetic relevelling, bathymetric surveys, sediment and wave studies, sea level monitoring and the introduction of an early warning system. Other areas of activities identified included a public awareness programme, land use planning, mangrove management, environmental awareness, cost recovery, income generation and institutional strengthening. A model for the undertaking of an economic feasibility study is also proposed.
[Back to Top]
A very useful summary of the development of the drainage and irrigation system is found in 1993 paper by R. Stringfellow, as follows:
Guyana's drainage and irrigation system was initiated when drainage canals were excavated along the two boundaries of the estate and an irrigation canal dug through the middle. The drainage canals often flowed out directly into the sea through a sluice. The two drainage canals and the irrigation canal together formed the estate's drainage and irrigation (D&I) system.
The dams (roads) provided access to the whole length of the estate running along both sides of the drainage canals, built up from the earth excavated when the drainage canals were constructed. Traditionally the dams along the irrigation canals were not used for access as this was believed to lead to erosion of the dam that could cause overtopping and flooding.
The operation of the system today is still much the same as it was when it was originally constructed. Head regulators on the feeder conservancy or river regulate the flow of water into the primary distributary canal. In many areas of the country this takes place by gravity flow although there are pumps on some dams. The level of water in the distributary canal is in turn controlled by regulators and each secondary canal running off the distributary canal has its own regulator to take water.
When water is released from the conservancy, the water level in the distributary canal rises and this flows into the secondary canals when the regulators are open. A schedule operates to allow different areas along the distributary canal to take off water. It is important to emphasise that for the system to work efficiently, water users must follow the schedule to irrigate their fields and all users in one secondary system must carry out field operations together. Originally, this was not a problem as each secondary system was under the management of one estate owner. The situation is very different today.
Field level irrigation is usually done by piping water directly from the irrigation canal through a 10-inch pipe laid through the dam. Engineers estimate that one pipe is required per 10 acres. Irrigation water is drawn into the field along herring bone shaped tracks. These help channel the water out of the field when it is ready to be drained.
Similar sized pipes are laid through the access dams along the drainage canals to take the water out of the fields. Engineers estimate that one of these is required every 7.5 acres. Today, many secondary drains do not drain directly into the sea but into a facade drainage canal running parallel to the coastline that drains into the sea through a pair of sluice gates. Drainage for the whole area is therefore dependent on the efficient management of this facade canal.
The original estates were about 1,300 ft (400 metres) in width and up to 30,000 ft (10,000 metres) in length. This led to a very high density of canals, consisting of about 83 ft (28 metres) of drain and 49 ft (16 metres) of irrigation canal per acre as well as 115 ft (38 metres) of access roads per acre. This is well in excess of what is required for efficient water management.
A first stage of rationalisation has halved the length of drains and canals per acre. A second stage would reduce the length of drains and canals to about 16 ft (5 metres) per acre each and 33 ft (11 metres) of access roads. Such a programme of rationalisation would drastically reduce maintenance costs. It could be facilitated by increasing the size of D&I areas.
The efficient operation of the system is also dependent on regular maintenance. Canals require weeding and clearing three times a year. If this does not take place, vegetation slows water flow and this in turn causes the canals to silt up more quickly, which further slows down the flow. Within a few years a system can deteriorate, requiring extensive reworking if it is to operate efficiently again.
Nine acts and laws govern the management and organisation of water in Guyana. A major problem is that together they do not comprise a consistent body of legal regulations. This is one major reason for the problems presently experienced in the management of the system.
All declared D&I areas used to come under the jurisdiction of the Central Drainage and Irrigation Board. This had the Hydraulics Division of the Ministry of Agriculture to assist it in technical matters and superintendents were allocated to each district.
In 1983, under the regionalisation programme, the responsibilities of the Board were devolved to the regional authorities, the Regional Democratic Councils (RDCs), establishing the Regional Executive Officer as the executing authority, assisted by the Regional Engineer and superintendents. The Agriculture and D&I Committee, already present in most regions, was intended to be a means of establishing feedback from farmers as they were represented on this.
The Regional Authorities are required by the Drainage and Irrigation Act, Chapter 64.03, to assess the level of drainage and irrigation rates per acre on declared D&I areas and levy charges from owners of land. These revenues are used to pay for the operation and maintenance (O&M) of the works in the D&I area that were originally "vested" in the D&I Board (that is, under the control of the D&I Board).
Two complications arise immediately: not all works in a given declared D&I area are "vested", and not all D&I areas are "declared." Thus O&M for the system is not the responsibility of one agency. In declared D&I areas, where works are not "vested", the local authorities are responsible for O&M. The percentage of the declared D&I areas under regional control varies considerably among the different areas, from 5% to 100%.
Local authorities are also responsible for the maintenance of D&I works outside the declared areas unless these are under the control of the sugar estates, private owners or development authorities. The situation is further complicated by the fact that some D&I areas belong to more than one local authority and a few even lie outside any local authority in a non-organised area.
Yearly estimates are done to budget for the costs of regular maintenance of the system that is mainly manual work. Rehabilitation work, which includes desilting of drains by mechanical means, major repairs of structures and replacement of gates, is considered capital expenditure and come out of the capital budget. This is prepared under the supervision of the regional engineer and includes other works that come under his responsibility. Responsibility for upgrading works, which is major rehabilitation involving part financing from international sources, is undertaken centrally by Hydraulics Department.
The institutional complexity regarding responsibility for O&M is replicated in the arrangements regarding rate collection. The RDCs collect rates from the local authorities, directly from large landowners and also from the Government for State lands. The local authorities are therefore the rate collectors for the RDCs. However, they do not levy a specific D&I rate but levy general rates from which they are required to pass on a proportion to the regional authorities. Consequently, D&I users are not being asked explicitly to pay for the service they receive. In addition, part of what is collected by the local authorities is used to cover their own maintenance costs for the D&I areas under their control. Another part is paid to the Conservancy Boards.
The RDCs calculate the rates by estimating the costs for the O&M of the system in the declared D&I areas. These costs, minus a 10% subsidy that is meant to be paid centrally by the Government, are then divided across the total acreage of the area to give per acre costs. The State Planning Secretariat must then approve the estimates.
Those in arrears with the payment of rates are required by the Drainage and Irrigation Act to pay 6% interest on outstanding bills.
Responsibility for O&M of the Boerasirie Conservancy in Region 3 and the East Demerara Water Conservancy in Region 4 established under individual acts. These establish Boards of Commissioners to oversee the necessary works to ensure adequate maintenance and distribution of the waters of the conservancies. The conservancies are not therefore under the jurisdiction of the regional authorities. The commissioners are also authorised to levy charges to beneficiaries on a per acre basis.
Commissioners are both appointed and elected by proprietors of the plantations listed in the acts, each proprietor entitled to one vote per hundred acres of land. The Boards are required to meet regularly and to keep up to date information on the plantations in the area receiving water from the conservancy.
Inadequate O&M over many years means that most parts of the system are badly deteriorated. Canals are full of weeds and larger vegetation, many are silted up and stagnant. The result is both inefficient drainage and irrigation. Farmers complain of lack of irrigation water when they need it and flooding when they are ready to harvest. The result is low yields and very inefficient use of water. Irrigation efficiency is estimated to be as low as 25% according to one of the few studies done on this.(1)
[Back to Top]
[Back to Top]
1. Sea Defences
The interval between the identification of critical areas and the commencement of physical works has been too long. The movement of mega mudbanks along the shoreline may result in dramatic changes at any location that require a quick response. Examples of these include the high rate of accretion in the Hope/Clonbrook area over the past few years that will result in a large increase of excavation quantities under the IDA contract. Any contract sum greater than G$6 million must go through the Central Board. This could be time consuming and lead to delay in project execution. Some flexibility as to a variation to the rule in the programme life would help in the execution and implementation of project activities.
In the case of donor-funded projects, it takes about two years to commence the execution of physical works from the signing of the agreement.
Procurement of quarry products is a major item in sea defence works. Until recently there have been only two major suppliers of quarry products in Guyana but a third one has now started operations. The cost of quarry material has been very high and it is hoped that the competition provided by the third quarry will bring those prices down.
b. Institutional arrangement
The Sea and River Defence Board has the legal responsibility for all declared sea and river defences. The Hydraulic Division is the executing agency for the Board and comes under the Ministry of Agriculture. As such, it shares the institutional problems common to all ministries. To overcome these limitations, the Project Execution Unit was formed in 1994 to manage the donor agencies-funded programme and train counterpart staff. It has no formal legal mandate but was given some autonomy in accounting and procurement. Effective management of the organisation is vital for the best use of limited available skills. A longer-run concern is that the Project Execution Unit was envisaged as a temporary unit, and after the donor-supported rehabilitation of sea defences is completed, there will be a need for an effective, permanent agency to manage maintenance tasks and ensure that maintenance works are not neglected again. The lessons of the flood of 1855 and the breaches of the 1980s and early 1990s ought to be sufficient.
c. Cost recovery
New policies are needed to ensure adequate funding for maintenance of sea walls on a continuing basis. The lack of such funding in the past has led to severe deterioration of the structures and therefore the current need to recourse to external sources of funding for major rehabilitation. Dependence on annual allocations from the general budget of the Government is evidently not an adequate solution.
d. Contractual arrangements
Because of the stringent preconditions of the donor agencies, local and regional contractors find it difficult to pre-qualify for some sea defence projects. The contractual arrangements should be examined to suit local conditions and encourage the acquisition of relevant skills by local contractors.
The competitive contractors may be ranked according to their location and their ability to undertake works of various cost magnitudes. An approximate classification along these lines would be as follows:
Area Value of works in US$m
Local Less than 0.5
Regional 0.5 to 3.0
International more than 15.0
The finances provided under the current donor agencies programme fall in the range of US$6 million and US$14 million. This has led to restrictions in the selection of suitable contractors for the EC and IDA tenders, effectively excluding local contractors. Including them is likely to result in substantial reductions in the cost per kilometre of rehabilitating sea walls.
The Government of Guyana has received funding of approximately US$40 million from four donor agencies for the rehabilitation of approximately 26 kilometers of sea defences, but it continues to undertake emergency sea defence and maintenance works to the value of over US$2 million annually from its own resources.
The Project Execution Unit is self-accounting right now and auditing is being done at the Auditor General's Office. Expenditures are recorded under two headings: "local expenditure" and "specific expenditure." The Hydraulics Department accounting is managed through the Ministry of Agriculture using the traditional public service accounting procedure. Eventually, one system should be applied in both cases.
g. Planning horizons
Besides carrying out the donor-funded rehabilitation work, laying the institutional and technical bases for a programme that continues indefinitely into the future is important now. For this purpose the responsibilities can be defined according to length of planning horizon:
(1) Short term (5 years)
The short term plan would involve the rehabilitation of the critical coastal protection structures identified under the donor agencies programme, the maintenance of the existing infrastructure and the rehabilitation of emergency works that are currently being funded by the Government of Guyana.
(2) Medium term (510 years)
The medium term programme would be the rehabilitation of further lengths of sea defences and the establishment of maintenance and a shorezone management unit.
(3) Long term (15 years)
Carry out data collection and monitoring programmes to determine critical areas along the sea defences for rehabilitation and continued maintenance.
h. Protection of mangroves
There are two principal reasons why the sea defences are in such deteriorated state today: lack of performance of regular maintenance duties over the years, and failure to protect the mangrove areas that once were very prevalent along the coast. These causes were also singled out by Baron Siccama more than a hundred years ago. It is urgent to protect the remaining mangrove zones and to carry out a gradual programme of reforestation of other areas in mangroves. Experience throughout the world has underscored the necessity of working closely with artisanal fishermen and local communities, in designing and implementing such programmes. Simple legal prohibitions against cutting mangroves do not work.
i. Data Collection
Sea defence data need to be upgraded and a monitoring programme established. Immediate requirements are hydrographic surveys and wave measurements. Aerial photography to help in the determination of land use pattern, mangrove extent and sea defence locations should be carried out and then repeated regularly to monitor changes. A programme for monitoring erosion and accretion should be put in place.
To arrive at an estimate of costs for constructing sea defences we may assume an average rock requirement of 30 tonnes per metre which at a placement cost of $6,000 per tonne (recent donor agencies tender prices) require $180,000. Again, if we assume filter fabric and earthworks to cost an additional 75%, then the costs of sea defence construction using rocks will be $375,000 or US$2,250 per metre or US$2.25 million per kilometre.
Guyana can ill afford to continue sea defence construction at this cost and methods to reduce the financial requirements should be investigated.
2. Drainage and Irrigation
Many pieces of legislation govern the management and operation of D&I management in Guyana, but together they do not comprise a consistent body of legal regulations. Instead, the result is a set of too complex and dissociated regulations that constrain the smooth operation of the D&I system.
b. Multitude of institutions with divided administration
There are eight different agencies with a role to play in the management and operation of Guyana's drainage and irrigation system. The institutional framework is characterised by lack of clear policy objectives, inadequate supervision and coordination, multiple overlapping jurisdictions, significant variations among regions in organisation and effectiveness, and imprecise roles of the various agencies.
c. Shortage of resources
(1) Technical capacity
The level of technical education in regional engineering departments is poor, as is the level of education in the accounts section.
(2) Physical resources
The engineers have no transport to get to different D&I areas. Another problem is that the Hydraulics Division does not have a permanent base and its current location on Homestretch Avenue is not sustainable.
(3) Non-participation of farmers within the system
The present system allows for minimal involvement of farmers, although they are the beneficiaries of the D&I system. They have almost no representation or voice in planning and very little participation in maintenance. Thus the group that has the greatest incentive to be involved in developing an efficient system is excluded from it.
(4) Lack of coordination with the rest of Guyana's water management institutions.
Little consideration has been given to the role of D&I in the context of the country's entire hydraulic system, and its impact on the water balance of the country.
The key to the deterioration of the infrastructure is the failure to secure financing for maintenance. The financing of maintenance depends on the collection of drainage and irrigation rates, with the added complication of conservancy and land development scheme rates. Rate collection is currently only about 30%. Farmers are unwilling to pay for the poor quality of services currently being provided by public agencies, while the main reason for the poor services is the severe financial constraints experienced by these public agencies.
3. Hydrometeorological Service
a. Maintenance and operation
The National Meteorological and Hydrological Station Network has been affected over the past two decades by the lack of spare parts and the rapid loss of skilled staff. This resulted in the closure of several important stations in the approved World Meteorological Organisation Network design and the consequential loss of data. Also, most stations are in remote hinterland areas accessed only by aircraft and other expensive means of transportation.
b. Cost recovery
Approval has been given to institute a system of charges for data supplied by the Hydrometeorological Service. It is a service-oriented organisation and forecasts have been generally issued free of cost to the media and the Ministry of Agriculture. However, charges are usually applied to specialised data requests thus contributing to offset partially the expenditures for these special investigations and field analyses. Overall, cost recovery has been very low and ways need to be sought to increase it.
The Service has been receiving funds to cover recurrent operating expenditures directly from the Ministry of Finance, during the last three years. The nominal capital funds from the public sector investment programme have been used mainly to improve working conditions, purchase much needed automated equipment and other items to maintain the basic operational status of existing networking stations.
The European Union has been approached to examine a proposal for funding a weather radar to improve the accuracy of forecasts. However, the acquisition would depend upon the priority placed on this project by the Government of Guyana. The World Meteorological Organisation also funds equipment and technical aid packages to upgrade regional meteorological and hydrological services. Nevertheless, additional funding is needed, especially to reopen the stations that were obliged to close.
[Back to Top]
1. Sea Defences
The long and stringent tender procedures have been a constraining factor to the performance of the Hydraulics Division and the Project Execution Unit, lowering their rate of execution of projects and raising their costs.
b. Institutional arrangement
The lack of formal legal mandate of the Project Execution Unit hinders its effective operation. Also, the Sea and River Defence Board does not have policy-making authority.
c. Cost recovery
Inadequate provisions for funding of maintenance in the past have directly contributed to the severe problems that the sea defence system is experiencing today. Lack of an adequate cost recovery mechanism for the sea defences also places considerable additional strain on an already tight fiscal situation. New approaches to finance this essential and ongoing task must be found, apart from external donors.
d. Contractual arrangements
The contractual arrangements for EC and IDA project-funded tenders restrict the selection of contractors to those classified as international. A revision of such arrangements may lead to more efficient and expeditious implementation of the projects.
With no specific mechanism in place for recovering the cost of the continued maintenance work required by the sea defences, Guyana has been resorting to donor agencies funding to rehabilitate the critical areas. Nevertheless, only the most urgent needs are being met that way, and the insufficiency of funds and low salaries have resulted in capable staff leaving the Hydraulics Division.
f. Environmental constraints
The widespread lack of public awareness of the value of mangroves for sustaining marine fisheries and preventing flooding and erosion of sea defences, has represented a major constraint in this sector. Equally, protection of coast lands against the sea has been hindered by the lack of a forward-looking programme based on developing a consensus with coastal communities on how best to manage mangroves.
2. Drainage and Irrigation
a. Technical capacity
The sector suffers from a major shortage of trained personnel. The fundamental reason for this is the low wages offered by the public sector in comparison with the private sector, which makes it difficult to hold onto the most capable staff.
b. Resource availability
Shortage of public funds has led to a severe shortage of equipment for the adequate operation of Government institutions involved with drainage and irrigation.
c. Non-participation of farmers within the system
A major contributor to the dilapidation of the system is believed to be the distance between the users of the system (the farmers) and the administrators. This sense of isolation contributes to the low rate collection. When farmers do not perceive any control over how the rates are spent, they are far more reluctant to pay. Any new system has to overcome this central weakness.
d. Lack of institutional coordination
In particular, there is a lack of coordination between the management of sea defences and the management of D&I systems. This is vital because sometimes the two systems utilise the same canals and other infrastructure. Also, responsibility for operation and maintenance of a given D&I area may be divided between an RDC and one or more local authorities.
e. Low rate collection
There is insufficient enforcement of payment regulations. Many farmers are defaulters, and although one reason for this is that the services provided are not considered worthy of rate payments, farmers are also in the position that they can often escape without paying and therefore have little incentive to pay. A confused land tenure system and weaknesses in the judicial system complicate the possibilities of rate collection.
f. Inadequate mapping
As stated by Stringfellow, each D&I area is represented in detail on drawings held at Hydraulics Division in Georgetown. However, these are not available in the Regions. The drawings themselves are old and often do not show all vested works or residential areas. More seriously, works under the responsibility of the local authorities are not mapped which represents a major drawback in assessing what the scope of rehabilitation works in the D&I areas should be.
g. Operations of the Conservancy Boards
Again, as pointed out by Stringfellow, these are required to operate the head regulators on the conservancies but in practise little control is exercised and water users have a lot of freedom to interfere with gates. This is a serious problem as assessment of water availability, not water needs, should determine irrigation flow. In fact, the necessary information on the water potential of the conservancies relies heavily, financially and technically, on the sugar estates. Consequently, the interest of one group of water users, the sugar growers, tends to guide decisions about water use. Ideally, a body that is independent of the water users should undertake distribution of water. However, without the support of the sugar estates, it is likely that the system would have collapsed totally.
3. The Hydrometeorological Service
Although there has been some increase in the funding available for this activity in recent years, lack of adequate finance is still the major constraint on its operations.
[Back to Top]
[Back to Top]
1. Short Term Objective
The main short term objective is the rehabilitation of the existing infrastructure of sea defences. To achieve this objective, the external donor agencies are funding several programmes at an approximate cost of G$1,500 million annually (1995 prices).
The Italian contractors PAC/GELFI are currently rehabilitating sea defence works on the West Coast of Demerara, under the LOME IV Project, in the following areas:
Richmond - Anna Regina 1323 m
Land of Plenty - Aberdeen 1310 m
Windsor Forest - La Jalousie 1062 m
Vergenogen - Barnwell 1271 m
Ruby - Le Destine 1095 m
Sub-total 6135 m
The present strategy is to combine the funds from the remaining donor programmes (IDA, IDB and CDB) to execute sea defence works East of the Demerara River, West Coast Berbice and Corentyne Coast.
The areas identified are as follows:
East Coast Demerara:
Mon Repos 300 m
Lusignan 1400 m
Turkeyen 870 m
Annandale 500 m
Lowlands 330 m
Sub-total 3625 m
West Coast Berbice:
Bel Air - Mon Chosi 2200 m
Trafalgar Pump Station 200 m
Brahan - No. 41 3400 m
Sub-total 5800 m
Villages 77 - 79 1050 m
Mon Repos 375 m
Villages 76 - 83 3000 m
Clonbrook 1450 m
Sub-total 5875 m
In addition, the release of further EEC and IDB funds under the second protocol will permit the rehabilitation of the remaining sections of sea defences West of the Demerara river and along the Essequibo coast. The areas identified are as follows:
West Coast Demerara:
Lookout - Naamryck 2.0 km
Orangestein 2.0 km
Tuchen 1.0 km
Ruimzeight 0.75 km
Leguan 1.5 km
Wakenaam 1.5 km
Sub-total 8.75 km
Funding would be sought from the Central Government for emergency works of approximately 800 metres at La Belle Alliance/Richmond on the Essequibo coast. It is envisaged that the Shorezone Management Programme would be further revised to reflect funding of more physical works along the Essequibo coast. Areas identified are as follows:
Windsor Castle - Sparta 470 m
Better Hope 1000 m
Bush Lot - Mainstay 2019 m
Central Government is currently funding the emergency rehabilitation programme. The areas identified for this activity are as follows:
Mon Repos 375 m
Strathspey East 150 m
Strathspey West 305 m
Buxton 600 m
2. Medium to Long Term Objectives
The medium term plan objective is to achieve the continuing tool of a comprehensive maintenance and replacement programme for sea and river defences. It is envisaged that the cost of this programme would be approximately G$1000 million annually, being gradually reduced to G$500 annually as rehabilitation improves the quality of the sea defences. The Central Government and donor agencies would finance it. Partial cost recovery should be implemented at the beginning of the programme and full cost recovery after emergency works have been completed.
A maintenance programme for the sea defences will include the following:
a. Regular inspection and monitoring and data collection of environmental conditions and structural response.
b. Repair or replacement of components of a structure whose life is estimated to be less than the overall structure life.
c. Emergency repairs to breached areas.
d. Identification of quantities and costs for plant, labour, and materials to undertake the necessary works.
e. Expansion of the foreshore coverage of mangrove and courida.
f. Improved institutional structures to carry out this programme.
g. Permanent financing mechanisms at a level that is adequate considering the maintenance requirements.
[Back to Top]
The primary objective of the drainage and irrigation policies is to contribute to the national goal of rapid and equitable economic growth by facilitating increased agricultural production. To achieve this primary objective, two long-term objectives have been identified, which in turn are broken down into shorter-term objectives.
1. Long-term Objectives
a. To develop a system for the operation and maintenance of the drainage and irrigation system that is environmentally, fiscally, and institutionally sustainable. The following objectives need to be met to fulfill this goal:
(i) Develop an appropriate institutional framework for drainage and irrigation management through:
(a) Increasing farmer participation.
(b) Developing clear roles and responsibilities for public institutions.
(c) Incorporating D&I into broader water management framework.
(d) Improving procurement/contractual procedures.
(e) Developing a system for collecting and accessing relevant information.
(ii) Develop a system that secures adequate and consistent financing for the operation and maintenance of all drainage and irrigation works by:
(a) Defining clear responsibilities for financing.
(b) Rationalising rate setting and collection.
(c) Improving the enforcement of rate payment.
(d) Developing new institutional structures for managing expenditure of the rates collected.
(iii) Devise arrangements for monitoring the environmental impact of drainage and irrigation work (including levels of toxins within the system).
(iv) Draft and enact new legislation to improve and unify current laws pertaining to drainage and irrigation management, to bring them into consistency with the policy framework established in this National Development Strategy.
b. To increase the current capacity of the drainage and irrigation system by improving existing infrastructure and expanding into new lands.
(i) Identify the areas where and expansion of D&I might offer potentially high agricultural returns and carry out the necessary works.
(ii) Rehabilitate and improve existing drainage and irrigation works.
[Back to Top]
The Hydrometeorological Service's main goals are: 1) to be the focal point for the collection, maintenance and operation of the meteorological and hydrological data collection network, 2) to provide improved services to users such as airports, the Sea and River Defences Board, agricultural organisations, etc. The first goal will be achieved following the World Meteorological Organisation guidelines and technical regulations. A development programme will be instituted as directed by the controlling agencies and the World Meteorological Organisation. Also, possible venues for expansion will be identified and their implementation will be subjected to available resources and manpower.
[Back to Top]
[Back to Top]
1. Institutional Policies
The first need to attend to is the lack of policy-making authority in this sector. The Sea and River Defence Board should be reorganised to become a policy making board. It should have representatives from the Ministry of Housing and Ministry of Regional Development and will be legally responsible for the entire coastline of Guyana. The executing agency should be a Shorezone Management Unit outside the public service. This would allow the unit to attract qualified staff, provide higher salaries and to have its own financial regulation.
Recent experience has shown that an urgent priority is reduction of the construction costs for the sea defences.
Some approaches to cost reduction that merit exploration are:
Examine means of reducing the costs of production and supply of rocks to sites. The recent opening of a third quarry may help in this regards.
Investigate current designs and propose cheaper alternatives.
On the first issue of rock supply, the US Army Corps of Engineers has offered to send a team to assess the overall quarry operations in the country. This offer should be pursued.
On the second issue of designs, the NEDECO section requires the least amount of rock. This is due to the fact that their lowest toe elevation is at 46 ft GD, while that of the SRKN'gineering design is at 41 ft GD. The NEDECO design should be used for all future works with minor modifications to suit site conditions.
The DHV and SRKN'gineering specifications require works to be performed in the dry. This will require the contractor to build an expensive cofferdam to keep the toe excavation dry. Also, continuous pumping during toe placing will be required. It is recommended that contractors be allowed to place the filter fabric and rock underwater during low tide periods. Mean low water spring and neap are approximately 46.2 ft. GD and 48.54 ft. GD, respectively, hence placement of an underwater toe at 46 ft. GD will be done at submerged depths of approximately 3 ft.
Although this method may promote more variable toe alignment and levels, this should not affect the integrity of the structure. The function of the filter fabric is to prevent loss of underlayer material during turbulence caused by wave and current actions. These effects are most severe at the higher elevations of the structure during high tide periods. Also, the structure toe will only be exposed during periods of low foreshore elevations.
3. Contractual Arrangements
The types of contractual arrangements will be examined with a view of selecting those that best suit the local scenario. Basically, works may be undertaken by force account or by contractors. Use of force account should be scaled down and eventually abandoned altogether.
The size of the construction undertakings funded by external donors tends to be such that it excludes local contractors from bidding for EC and IDA tenders. It is urgent that this impasse be addressed especially as the next programme to be tendered, that funded by the CDB, is approximately US$7 million and will involve two separate contracts.
Suggestions for resolving this are:
(a) Combine donor agencies' programmes to attract international contractors.
(b) Split individual programmes so that regional and local contractors may participate.
(c) Separate the supply of rocks from that off construction of the works and treat as two contracts, the former being administered by the Government and the latter by regional and local contractors.
(d) Urge local contractors to form joint ventures.
The selection of the method to be employed should be sanctioned by the Government of Guyana and the respective donor agency and the recommended methods are Nos. 1 and 4 above for large contracts (over US$12 million) and No. 3 for smaller ones.
4. Cost Recovery and Financial Management
In light of the evident failure of previous modes of financing maintenance of sea defences, it is necessary to identify other modes that will be both sufficient in magnitude and sustainable. Sea defences contribute directly to the economic well-being of at least 85% of the population, so the funding source for maintenance must be broadly based.
The following are possible revenue strategies for a sea defence cost recovery programme:
(a) Impose a 0.75% sea defence levy on the value of all imports.
(b) As the property registry system is modernised, implement a property tax of G$200 per acre (in 1996 prices).
(c) Rely on general budgetary revenues to close the remaining financing gap for the maintenance of the sea defences until the above revenue sources are fully operational.
The management of both the financial and operational aspects of the sea defence system needs to be as streamlined and efficient as possible, with built-in mechanisms to ensure continuously that costs are kept as low as possible. The following policy is adopted in this regard:
The revenues collected from above mechanisms would be deposited in a special trust account for maintenance of the sea defences, in the Central Bank. The Sea Defences Board, in effect an intergovernmental management committee for the trust account, would monitor the collection of revenues, their disbursement, and the progress made in the maintenance efforts. It would also submit annual estimates to the Ministry of Finance for he required complementary funding from the general budget, in the expectation that eventually this line item would be phased out.
5. Areas to be Protected
The strategy will prioritise the areas along the coastland that require protection. Land use and shallow foreshore levels should be the main criteria used for selection with housing areas being treated as urgent. These areas will include the Essequibo Coast between Supenaam and Marias Delight, Wakenaam, Leguan, East Bank Essequibo, East and West Demerara and No. 78 and No. 83 on the Corentyne Coast.
The current IDA, IDB and EC programmes will provide protection to some of these areas. Future funding should be allocated to other unprotected and critical areas in these locations.
The CDB programme is primarily providing protection to the facade drain in the West Coast Berbice area. This may not have been a wise choice and this programme will be reviewed.
In areas where there are no residences, retirement of the sea defence line, when breached, may be the recommended approach and each case should be examined critically. If a small section of an exposed coastline is protected, then continued erosion upstream and downstream will require additional lengths of the shoreline to be protected or a headland will be created. Both scenarios may not be the desired solution in later years.
It has been our experience that the time span between critical area identification and the commencement of physical works has been too long. Also, critical areas identified under the CDB programme now support mangrove trees and the consultants were obliged to change the overall scope of works. This has been communicated to the Bank and concerns have been raised that approval for this revision may not be forthcoming in a hurry. This will change the programme and may lead to increased costs.
It s recommended that the Project Executing Unit maintain and update at appropriate intervals records of critical areas and that donor agencies expedite procurement procedures. The latter may be assisted by using shortlists of local and regional consultants and contractors maintained by the Project Executing Unit.
Training of local staff should be actively pursued. The US Army Corps of Engineers recently offered assistance at this area, including assigning engineers to their research laboratories in the USA. This should be accepted.
8. Other Sea Defence Programmes
Together with rock armouring protection there are other viable methods of protection. These include management of mangrove and placement of groynes. Both have been recommended in the Swedeplan/SSPPA report and their recommendations should be carried out. Mangrove management should be actively pursued in areas such as Mahaica to Rosignol and the lower Corentyne areas. This approach may provide protection to coastlines that otherwise will have to be retired.
9. Land for Houses
No doubt the sea defence problem continues, mainly, through the installation of infrastructure and housing in areas adjacent to the sea defence line. A final recommendation is that no land within a certain distance of the sea defences should be used for the construction of any permanent structure. This distance will vary along the country's coastline but should not be less than 200 feet. At locations along the coast where there is no intensive housing development, any plans for such development should be assessed taking into consideration the need for present and future sea defence protection. Where possible, future housing development should be restricted to areas south of the Public Road.
Note that a sea defence structure has a design lifetime and a collapse is possible anytime and at any place along the coastline. Future development along the coastlands should be placed with large set backs from the sea defences to protect against flooding.
[Back to Top]
The strategy for achieving sustainable operation and maintenance of the drainage and irrigation system will emphasize that the new formed D&I Board will take the lead in developing a simplified, two-tier institutional structure, which will be financially sustainable.
1. Local Level
Farmers themselves will determine the most appropriate institutional arrangement for managing the secondary systems in their locality, whether through the existing Local Government Authorities (LGAs) or through the Water Users' Associations (WUAs).
(a) Water Users' Associations
The Board will support and encourage the formation of associations of farmers responsible for the operation and maintenance of secondary systems. Once fully operational, these WUAs will be self-financing, self-regulating, and self-governing and will assume full control over the secondary system in their localities. The Board will also propose a legislative framework within which the WUAs will operate. It is expected that each WUA will elect an executive committee that will be responsible to regional and national farmers' organisations. This committee will manage the day-to-day operation of the WUA and maintain accounts and records of their activities.
(b) Local Government Authorities
Where farmers are satisfied with the current institutional arrangement, the Board will support and strengthen the capacity of the LGAs to administer the operation and maintenance of secondary systems by providing training, advice and support.
Water users, whether through WUAs or LGAs will bear in full the costs of the operation and maintenance of secondary systems. Rates set and collected by the WUA or LGA will eventually cover all costs associated with the secondary system. In addition, farmers will pay rates to cover costs for the operation and maintenance of primary irrigation canals, and to contribute to the operation and maintenance of conservancies.
MMA/DA and the East Bank Essequibo have been identified as suitable areas to carry out pilot programmes. In these areas the Board will test the viability of WUAs and develop the capacity to promote WUAs elsewhere in the country. Where LGAs continue to take the responsibility for secondary system operation and maintenance, the Board will set up a support programme that will focus on identifying the main organisational, financial and attitudinal factors impinging on the efficient and effective management of the secondary systems. These issues will be identified through surveys of selected LGAs stressing maximum feedback from farmers. Technical assistance and supplies will be provided to the LGAs in such areas as accounting, bookkeeping, rate setting, and collection and management of physical operations.
The Board will play an important role in establishing standards for operation and maintenance, implementation and monitoring of the activities of the local level entities, and ensuring that the secondary system functions satisfactorily, in an environmentally sound manner.
2. National Level (the Drainage and Irrigation Board)
The new Water Board will assist the Government in developing policies, planning, coordinating, approving and regulating all public irrigation, drainage and flood control projects and districts. It also will ensure compliance with national policies and norms through monitoring and supervision of construction, operation and maintenance activities in the regions.
The Board will employ its own managerial and technical staff to meet its responsibilities. A core staff will be employed immediately to help in carrying out functions under the Board's current legal mandate, and to execute the pilot programmes as a basis for implementing new policies.
(b) Primary system operation and maintenance
The Board will develop the appropriate institutional arrangement for the planning, design, execution, and monitoring of physical works. The Board also will ensure that any such arrangement will be:
(i) Accountable: management must be transparent and accountable to system clients and Government.
(ii) In line with national standards the Board will closely supervise and monitor all works to ensure conformity to national standards.
(iii) Representative members of LGAs, WUAs, conservancy boards, and those involved with other aspects of water resource management will be represented in the decision-making process.
(c) Drafting of new legislation
The Board will immediately commence the preparation of new legislation for the drainage and irrigation sector. In doing so, the Board will review existing legislation, study closely the legal implications of this Directive and the experiences of the pilot programmes and, with the Ministry of Agriculture, propose changes in the existing legal framework.
3. Strategy for Improving and Expanding the Existing D&I System
The following table shows the proposed plan for rehabilitating improving and extending physical works. Besides the medium and long term works identified in this table, on-stream projects and emergency works need to be completed as soon as possible.
[Back to Top]
The strategy for the Hydrometeorological Service will lead to the upgrading of existing stations and the working environment, including improved communication links to data collection centers and automation of stations, plus the recruitment of qualified staff. To achieve this goal the following steps will be taken:
- Reactivation of the stations necessary for the design network to improve forecasting capabilities.
- Improvement of the staff's skills through seminars, scholarships, and in-the-job training.
- Developing research capabilities and other related skills.
The Hydrometeorological Service should be an autonomous body, having the ability to:
- Approach donor agencies (international and national) directly.
- Fix wages and salaries.
- Determine prices to be charged for information to offset expenditures of the Service.
- Fix a percentage of the budget from all national development projects that use hydrometeorological information.
It will begin to levy charges on users such as airport authorities that to date have been receiving these services free.
b. Institutional policies
- Improve the collection/dissemination of hydrometeorological information through training and recruitment of qualified staff.
- Introduce monitoring of ocean parameters relating to control management.
- A precise legal framework for the operation of the entity relating to data collection, information, and monitoring.
The Hydrometeorological Service should be a permanent member in the water boards and related agencies.
[Back to Top]
[Back to Top]
In 1992 the Sea Defences Act was enacted, repealing the Sea Defences Act of 1988. However, this most recent legislation requires modification, as follows:
1. Short Term
a. The legal basis for the special levies on imports and property should be established, along with the structure and functions of the trust account for these funds in the Central Bank.
b. The Project Execution Unit should be merged with the Emergency Rehabilitation Programme.
c. The executing agency should be an autonomous Shorezone Management Unit.
d. The head of the proposed Shorezone Management Unit should be responsible for all sea and river defence works.
e. The terms of reference of the PEU should be revised to include maintenance, training, etc.
f. The boundaries of the sea defences should be extended from 50 to 200 feet.
2. Medium Term
a. The sea defence laws should be modified.
b. The areas of responsibility for sea and river defences should be extended to include the entire coast, rivers, and streams.
c. The development of housing areas North of the public road should be restricted in populated areas.
d. An emergency committee should be established for disaster preparedness for sea and river defences.
3. Long Term
It is foreseen that in the long term the three subsectors, namely drainage and irrigation, sea and river defence, and hydrometeorology, would merge to form the "Flood Control and Water Management Unit."
[Back to Top]
The new legislation to be proposed will embody the following:
1. A system of financing that makes the distinction between private and public elements of the services provided by D&I and ensures the financial sustainability of the D&I system.
2. New institutional arrangements, including the legislative framework for the recognition and operation of WUAs, regional entities and, at the national level, the possible merge of the Sea Defences and D&I administration.
[Back to Top]
A Cabinet decision established the Hydrometeorological Service in 1965. In its operational mandate there are no legislative directives to control and regulate data collection and dissemination activities. Areas occupied by this Department should not be disturbed. Also, no developmental activities should be allowed to disrupt the collection of data.
[Back to Top]
[Back to Top]
The Government of Guyana has been funding the maintenance and rehabilitation of sea defences works annually from its own resources. The IDA, CDB, IDB, and EEC have provided funds for the rehabilitation of critical sections of sea defences.
1. Identification inventory of critical sea and river defence areas
a. Critical areas
The areas along the coast that would be treated as critical are as follows: Essequibo coast between Supenaam and Marias Delight, Wakenaam, Leguan, East Bank Essequibo, East and West coast Demerara Bel Air/Mon Chosi on the West coast of Berbice and No. 78 to NO. 83 villages on the Corentyne coast.
b. Costs of works
The approximate cost to maintain and rehabilitate sea defence works over the short term would be about G$1,500 million annually. Over the medium term it is envisaged that it would be approximately G$1,000 million annually, and for the long term, approximately G$500 million annually, all estimated at 1995 prices.
2. Propose financing for a sea and river defence programme via a donor agency
The Inter-American Development Bank has proposed a 5-year plan to enable the Government to carry out a Shorezone Management Programme of approximately US$25 million, and EEC is also proposing an additional sum of approximately US$22 million for rehabilitation of sea defences.
[Back to Top]
Table 40-1 presents a detailed investment programme for the area of drainage and irrigation.
Proposed Investment Programme for Drainage and Irrigation
|Ituribisi Conservancy works|
|Capoey-Tapakuna Conservancy works|
|Dawa Pump station|
|Rebuild old sea-sluices|
|Rebuild old sea-sluices|
|Canals Polder Secondary D&I works|
|East Demerara cons. dam & structures|
|Rebuild old sea sluices|
|Facade drain Golden Gr./Mosquito Hall|
|Mahaicony-Abary Rice Dev. Scheme|
|Facade drain & sluice Planters Hall/Farm|
|Complete rehab. Black Bush Polder|
|Block III Area (lots 52-74)|
|Manarabisi Cattle Pasture|
|Crabwood Creek-Moleon Creek extension|
|East Bank Berbice area|
|Lots 1-25, E.C. Berbice|
|Black Bush frontlands|
|Major D&I projects:|
|Dredge and enlarge Torani Canal|
|Dev. Abary-Berbice secondary D&I|
|Mahaicony water control project|
|Mahaica water control project|
|Canje water control project|
[Back to Top]
Computers, office and communication equipment, meteorological and hydrological equipment necessary for the Department's operation and data gathering activities have been purchased through the public sector investment programme.
Also, the World Meteorological Organisation donated computers and software, and has funded project preparation and training to achieve some of the Hydrometeorological Department's objectives.
However, for improving the quality of the services rendered:
1. The most pressing short term need is for the acquisition and installation of a radar.
2. The acquisition of the following equipment has been identified as a medium term objective:
- Satellite receiving equipment
- Meteorological and hydrological data collection equipment
- Radio sonde, upper air data collection system
- Automatic picture transmission equipment.
3. In a longer term, the following steps are proposed:
- Total upgrade of existing equipment
- Establishment of other forecasting and data receiving and transmitting centres at strategic locations around the country.
1. This section has been adapted from R. Stringfellow, "Drainage and Irrigation in Guyana," Review of the Agricultural Sector in Guyana: Volume 2, Technical Presentations, Ministry of Agriculture and IICA, Georgetown, December, 1993, pp.178-198.