Sea Defence Acts updated

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The importance of flood protection systems to Guyana’s social and
economic development cannot be over-emphasised.

Recognising this, the Ministry of Public Infrastructure in
collaboration with the European Union held a meeting with stakeholders
for a comprehensive revision of the Sea Defence Acts and Disaster Risk
Management, earlier today.

At the meeting, Minister within the Ministry of Public Infrastructure,
Annette Ferguson said the collaboration is necessary to ensure that
the updated sea and river defence legislation is comprehensive,
all-encompassing and harmonised with the country’s vision to develop a
green state.

Minister Ferguson added that though it addresses several issues
relative to the management of the sea defences along our vulnerable
coastline, the current Sea Defence Acts is somewhat narrow in scope.

The Acts are concerned primarily with man-made defences and do not
properly account for mangroves. The protection of the mangroves falls
under other legislative fields but does not serve all needs for sea
and river defences and there is no specific enforcement authority for
sea and river defences.

“In light of these and other critical observations it is envisaged
that the drafting of the updated Sea Defence Bill will address legal
interpretations pertaining to the management of sea and river
defences, the establishment of entities, institutional arrangements,
responsibilities, powers and limitations, regulations, funding
mechanisms, penalties and reporting among other critical issues,”
Minister Ferguson explained.

Through national financing and donor arrangements with the European
Union and Caribbean Development Bank, the government has secured
funding for sea defences construction

One important donor programme currently being implemented is 11th
European Development Fund programme which will run from 2017-2020 and
will see the disbursement of the just over $7Billion (€ $30Million).
It is aimed at enhancing Guyana’s disaster risk management and flood
resilience capacity through integrated coastal zone management, sea
and river defences, drainage and mangrove regeneration and the
promotion of gender equality in the sea and river defence sector.

Other programmes include the Sea and River Defence Sector Policy
framework in 2015, the 2016-2020 comprehensive Sea and River Defence
Sector Strategy Strategic Objective.

Minister Ferguson acknowledged the contributions of the European Union
to the sea and river defence sector.

“The European Union has partnered with the Government of Guyana
through the provision of donor funding in support of coastal zone
management programmes for more than thirty (30) years. The updating of
the Sea Defence Act through EU grant financing represents another
milestone in this collaborative process and is considered an important
advancement in the adoption of a strategic approach to shore zone
management in Guyana.”

Substantial lengths of the sea defences were constructed decades ago
and reconstruction of critical sections is required in a number of

According to Minister Ferguson, annually, approximately 4Km of the new
sea and river defences are constructed to restore adequate levels of
flood protection in areas where the existing structures have become
critical. Additionally, in excess of 40Km of sea and river defences
are improved through rehabilitation and maintenance interventions.

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