As the Guyana Mangrove Restoration Project (GMRP) concludes its final year of official funding from the European Union, the acreage replanted is only around half of what was projected for the three-year $1 billion scheme intended to shore up sea defences and boost afforestation.
The shortfall in what was originally intended for a project championed by former president Bharrat Jagdeo in 2010 will raise questions about whether value for money was obtained for the acreage restored even though there has been a number of other benefits such as public awareness and the flourishing of alternative livelihoods.
In September 2010, then Coordinator of the project Bissesar Chintamanie had told the Government Information Agency 11 kilometres were expected to be replanted over the three-year period, but with the “aggressive” work taking place he anticipated that much more would be done. To date, around 5 km of mangroves have been restored but there is no guarantee that these will all be maintained.
Roughly speaking, a 5 km outturn would mean around $200 million per km of mangroves. Actual seawalls could range in value from $500 million to $900 million.
During a recent visit to one of the restored areas on the East Coast, EU Ambassador Robert Kopecky pledged the EU’s continued commitment to sea defences development until 2020.
He said that the GMRP was an example of budgetary support that has yielded results. Kopecky, speaking with Stabroek News during a tour of the Victoria mangroves site, noted that “in terms of budget support this [the Victoria mangrove acreage] is the best… it could have been better but it also could have been less. What is important is that I see improvements.”
He further said the project has been a continuous challenge and the various processes were done through trial and error while re-emphasising that progress is being made and as a result the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) would take into account additional fiscal support for the project.
Kopecky said “the disbursement finishes this year and the 11th EDF funds will change so development of infrastructure like seawall and mangroves and sea defences will be a part of that”. The EU Ambassador stated that the €1.1 million disbursed in March of this year, the final disbursement out of the €4.1 million, will ensure that the work continues and forward movement of the projects is seen while more experimental projects can be tested to facilitate the growth of mangroves.