Guyana El Niño Drought OCHA Situation Report No. 1

Situation Report
Originally published
Appeal for assistance of victims of drought

1. Guyana is subject to a period of unprecedented drought caused by the El Nino phenomenon that has been found responsible for as much as 90 per cent of the deficiency in rainfall in September and October 1997 and for the complete failure of a rainy season in mid-November 1997 to mid-January 1998.

2. There is a severe shortage of drinking water throughout the country. The most affected areas are Georgetown, where the population is also faced with unsafe drinking water and the risk of water borne diseases, and hinterland areas where springs and wells have dried up.

3. Agricultural production, particularly of rice and sugar which are major export crops has been severely affected. The total area sowed with rice was reduced by 35 per cent, and the Guyana Rice Development Board reports that El Nino effects will cause rice production for the spring season to fall by 37 per cent. Sugar production for the same period will fall by 13 per cent according to GUYSUCO's estimates.

4. Those most seriously affected by the drought will be farmers who have invested resources in planting, but will have no yield to harvest. This phenomenon will affect 1,300 rice growers'families and 1,000 sugar cultivators' families, numbering some 11,000 people in total.


5. The Government of Guyana has taken emergency measures to improve water supply in the capital as well as inland areas. The Ministry of Agriculture has embarked upon a drought emergency work programme including water conservation, judicious use of water, extension services and procurement of pumps to augment the water supply to conservancies and irrigation channels. The Government has committed close to us USD one million for an emergency programme to deliver water to the most affected areas of Greater Georgetown and some USD 350,000 to drill wells for the relief of hinterland communities.


6. The Government has requested UNDP's assistance in evaluating the impact of the drought and prepare an action plan and mobilise additional resources from the donor community given that the magnitude of emergency assistance required exceeded the Government's capacity. The following immediate needs have so far been identified:

a) 50 hand pumps to improve water supply in Amerindian settlements at an estimated cost of USD 20,000.

b) Submersible pumps for ensuring the water supply in Georgetown. The pumps required would be rated at 75 l/s at 60m head and have a maximum diameter of 300 mm suitable for installation in wells with inside diameter of 325 mm minimum, at an estimated unit cost of USD 30,000.

c) Drilling one well 240 metres deep and installation of casing and screens at an estimated cost of USD 180,000.

d) 24 Mobile pumps comprising the following:

  • 5 pumps with a capacity of 40 cubic ft per second at 18 ft for pumping from the rivers to conservancies at a unit cost of USD 66,000 (CIF);
  • 8 pumps with a capacity of 20 cubic ft per second for pumping from conservancies to the main irrigation canals at a unit cost of USD 33 ,000 (CIF);
  • 11 pumps with a pump capacity of 10 cubic ft. per second at 15 ft for the recirculation of water from drains to canals at a unit cost of USD 29 ,000 (CIF).
e) Provision of relief assistance to the families of the most affected farmers numbering 2,300 over a period of 6 months equivalent to Guyana Dollars 10,000 per family per month and at a total cost of USD 932,000. Rations could be purchased locally.

f) Provision of paddy seeds to the affected farmers for the next cropping season. It is estimated that one bag of paddy (at a cost of Guyana dollars 2000/bag) would be needed for each of the 63,000 acres affected. The estimated total cost of this assistance would be USD 852,000. Seeds are likely to be available on the local market.


7. In consultation with the Government the UN Resident Co-ordinator convened a donor co-ordination meeting, attended by representatives of the World Bank, the Inter- American Development Bank (IDB); PAHO/WHO, UNICEF, WFP, UK Department for International Development, and the European Union. The Minister for Agriculture responsible for co-ordination of the various government bodies and national agencies involved in the relief effort appealed to members of the international community represented at the meeting to respond promptly


United Nations System USD
OCHA Emergency grant 20,000
UNDP Resources for evaluation, donor co-ordination, planning 65,000
UNICEF Hand pumps 60,000
WFP Provision of paddy seeds and food rations needs to be reviewed. No value indicated
CIDA (Canada) 1 Submersible pump, 2 mobile pumps, spare kits, 2 potable water projects for Amerindian communities. Total value: Canadian dollars 200,000 137,900
Norway Emergency grant through OCHA 20,000
Others institutions
IDB Provision for procurement of 2 submersible pumps and digging 2 wells for georgetown. Provision of paddy seeds. Guyana's balance of payment. No value indicated
WFP Provision of paddy seeds and food rations No value indicated

8. OCHA is prepared to serve as a channel for cash contributions to be used during the immediate relief phase in coordination/consultation with relevant organizations of the United Nations system. OCHA provides donors with written confirmation and pertinent details concerning the utilization of the funds contributed.

9. Donors wishing to channel their contributions through OCHA should transfer funds to OCHA account no. CO.590.160.1 at the Swiss Bank Corporation, Case Postale 2770, CH-1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland, with reference: GUYANA - DROUGHT.

10. For coordination purposes, donors are requested to inform OCHA Geneva, as indicated below, of relief mission, pledges or contributions and their corresponding values by item.

Telephone number: + 41-22-917-1234
In case of emergency only: + 41 22 917 2010
Desk Officers: Mr. Erik Haegglund, direct tel: + 41-22-917-3299 and
Mr. Carlos Monteiro-Pereira, direct tel: +41-22-917-1383
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Fax: + 41 22 917 0023
E-mail: info at

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