Minister of Foreign Affairs Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett and Japanese Ambassador Tatsuaki Iwata on Tuesday inked a US$3.8M Grant Agreement for the second component of rehabilitation works on the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC).
According to a Government Information Agency (GINA) press release the minister and the ambassador also exchanged notes and records of discussions for the works at the meeting which was held at Takuba Lodge.
The agreement will see the implementation of civil works to complement existing works undertaken during the first phase of the project. “Eight excavators and two pontoons were procured under this initial phase,” GINA said.
While underscoring the importance of the agreement, the minister said it inculcates not only a commitment on behalf of the Japanese Government to fulfil a promise made in 2007, but is testimony to the deepening relations the two countries share. “Notwithstanding the physical distance between our two countries, we value the friendship that exists and, we continue to grasp every opportunity to collaborate not only at the international level but at the bilateral and regional levels and one such area is climate change on which both nations share similar view,” she said.
According to GINA, the agreement which saw the first phase finalised in March and is being undertaken at a cost of approximately US$8M; will ensure that the country adapts to the effects of climate change which have severely affected its economy in the past. Guyana and Japan have successfully collaborated on several projects, including the construction of the New Amsterdam Hospital, training of personnel and the deputation of volunteers in the areas of agriculture and health.
Agriculture Minister Robert Persaud said that the project is important to the country as the EDWC is considered to be one of the structures most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change and, if not taken seriously can lead to widespread destruction. “This project has been in the making and is as a result of our President’s interaction with the former Prime Minister of Japan and we were very happy that Japan is willing to support Guyana’s effort in terms of climate change adaptation,” he said.
Persaud said about 300,000 people and 17,000 hectares of prime agricultural lands are vulnerable. Also, 85 per cent of economic activities take place within proximity to the structure and as such managing it remains one of government’s priorities.
Several pieces of equipment have been deployed to the EDWC for development works. “The earlier agreement provided for eight excavators and two pontoons and, the procurement process has started and we anticipate timely delivery because as we speak we are in need of the equipment to carry out the reinforcement of the embankment,” Persaud noted.
GINA said the work will also complement the Hope Canal project for which a further $800M has been provided by government. The project which is about 14% complete will significantly aid in climate change adaptation and mitigation.
The ambassador said that the project will have an overwhelming impact on sea level rise. “A commitment was also made to ensure its speedy completion,” GINA said.