Dutch team presents drainage recommendations

-final report slated for year-end

At the conclusion of a four-day review, the Dutch Risk Reduction (DRR) Team on Thursday presented its preliminary recommendations on Guyana’s drainage system and emphasised the need for a technical and managerial upgrade.

According to a Ministry of Public Infrastructure statement, the three-member team, which departed yesterday, presented its findings to Public Infra-structure Minister David Patterson and Agriculture Minister Noel Holder during a wrap-up session on Thursday at the boardroom of the Ministry of Agriculture.

“If you don’t manage it properly, the system will fail and if your water system fails, your country will fail,” Team Leader Rob Steijn was quoted as saying during the presentation.

He said the system needed to be crucially addressed and noted too that the government’s predictability to drainage issues must be improved. Additionally, he noted that short-term improvements, such as small-scale dredging, are possible. “The main message is that we need a holistic approach,” he said.

Steijn added that the issue must be attacked on all levels, from the planning stage right up to the enforcement of legislation. He said too that an integrated approach involving all stakeholders was necessary. “A participatory approach leads to much more progress and faster implementation in the end,” he added.

The statement said Steijn pointed out that the observations were “not all bad.” He said, “There were good things and other things that need some improvement,” he said.

Steijn outlined seven preliminary recommendations. They are: upgrade modelling capability; increase flood resilience of people and businesses; upgrade dredging capabilities and improve flow efficiency; develop long-term plans; develop and test a pilot project; develop and apply a life cycle approach for the drainage assets; and data management through digitisation.

Meanwhile, Steijn indicated that the analyses do not end upon the team’s exit from Guyana. He stressed that four days were not enough and explained that the team will return to the Netherlands and further analyse the data presented before completing its report. Thursday’s discussions would also aid in the recommendations, Steijn said. Steijn also estimated that the report would be finalised and formally handed over to the Guyana government by mid-December.

In remarks following the presentation, Patterson observed that the observations made were “very informative” and indicated his support of some of the recommendations as well as his anticipation of the final report.

He said that he was impressed that, in just a few days, the team had managed to make spot on assessments of Guyana’s situation.

He also thanked the team for its frankness. “We don’t see it as a critique; it’s all a learning process,” he said.

Patterson, the statement said, stressed the importance of the report being more than just another report, while noting that since assuming office he has realised that studies would have been previously done but their findings were never implemented.

The Ministry had said that the visit by the team was in response to a request which Patterson made in July for assistance in a number of areas, including urban drainage, hydraulic and coastal engineering, water resource management and planning and disaster and risk management.

The Netherlands has extensive experience with drainage because of its low-lying northern lands and its engineers have worked on Guyana’s sea defences in the past.

The other members of the team were Social Scientist Judith Kloster-mann and Civil Engineer Fokke Westebring. Their trip involved a flyover of Guyana as well as a dozen interviews with local officials, the ministry said.

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