‘Water can be a liability’

– Persaud says in address at World Water Day observance

Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud said water management is important, particularly in a country like Guyana where there are challenges.

Persaud recalled that the country was facing drought-like weather conditions last year around this time forcing government to release water from the Maduni Creek in to the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC), compared to the La Nina conditions currently being experienced.

The current conditions, he said, has resulted in water being released from the EDWC into the Maduni Creek.  He is calling on citizens torecognise the importance of water management because, “water in Guyana can be also deemed as a liability instead of an asset”.

Robert Persaud

Persaud’s comments came during International World Water and Meteorological Day observance yesterday held under the theme, ‘Responding to the Challenges of the Weather and the Role of Water Management’. The forum was intended to focus attention on the impact of rapid urban population growth, industrialisation and uncertainties caused by climate change and other natural disasters on urban water systems.

Persaud delivered the keynote address and he called the observances critical, noting that it is important to try to use both disciplines to guide policies and programmes in the country. He also pointed to weather forecasts saying they play an integral role in the decision making process, since they determine what measures should be put in place to ensure conservancies remain at a low level, to safeguard people’s livelihood.

“In January, we thought that the conservancy would not have enough water to sustain us because the projects that we had did not come to that level of intensification, but the simple day to day decisions that we make in terms of water availability also depends on the type of accuracy and science that is involved in weather forecasting,” Persaud was quoted as saying by the Government Information Agency (GINA).

Persaud also underscored the role agriculture plays in water with respect to farmers and policymakers’ decision making.  He said too that Guyana has already benefited from the expertise of an Indian hydrometeorologist with the aim of improving its weather forecasting capacity.

GINA referred to statements made by the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, which were conveyed by UN Coordina-tion Analyst Yolanda Durant-McKlmon. She observed that as the world plans for a more sustainable future, water, food and energy remain the most formidable challenges faced.

She said too that without access to potable water there can be no escape from poverty and the Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) would not be achieved by many countries. “World Water Day highlights some of the main challenges of the increasing urban future. Urbanisation brings opportunities for more efficient water management and improved access to drinking water and sanitation,” she added.

Further, Durant-McKlmon stated a high-level panel on Global Sustainability and UN-Water are currently examining ways to address issues surrounding water management, with the aim of reducing poverty and inequality and minimizing the risk of climate change and environmental stress.

GINA reported that hydro-meteorological data and water management; systemic water management and its implication for the agriculture sector and national initiatives to promote water management at farm and community levels were also discussed yesterday.

Representatives from the Guyana Livestock Develop-ment Authority (GLDA); Ministry of Housing and Water; the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA); Hydro-met Offfice; Agriculture Sector Development Unit  (ASDU); National Agricul-ture Research and Extension Institute (NAREI) and members of the diplomatic corps also participated in the event.