Guyana

World Bank approves El Niño emeregency assistance project for Guyana

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WASHINGTON, October 22, 1998 - The World Bank today approved a US$9 million equivalent IDA credit for an El Niño Emergency Assistance Project in Guyana. The project will help restore the country's agricultural capacity in drought-stricken areas, provide for potable water service to marginal urban and remote communities affected by the drought, and help restore flood protection in low-lying areas of Georgetown.
In 1996, Guyana suffered a severe flood which resulted in losses in several sectors, especially agriculture. Because of the El Niño phenomenon, rainfall between September 1997 and February 1998 was only about 25 percent of the norm in coastal areas. Nearly all of the lakes, reservoirs and other irrigation sources were almost completely dried up.

In preparation for the possibility of flooding due to the predicted cold phase of El Niño (also known as La Niña) and recurrent droughts, the project will support the rehabilitation of specific structures in the drainage and irrigation system, the construction of water control structures in key points to reduce water loss, and the supply of mobile pumps to serve during both floods and droughts. The Georgetown Flood Protection Restoration Program is expected to provide flood relief to approximately 45,000 residents living in affected areas.

In addition to those efforts, a separate component of the project will be implemented to ensure safe and reliable potable water service to marginal areas and remote communities. This includes the restoration, rehabilitation and/or digging of important wells in key locations, as well as investments in distribution networks in vulnerable areas (e.g., rural schools and cluster settlements in remote regions).

These investments aim to create well-functioning basic services in key locations (schools, community centers, health centers, markets, etc.) so that isolated or marginal communities will not face the hardships they currently endure in the absence of such facilities. The potable water service recovery and restoration program will benefit about 63,000 inhabitants.

The US$9 million IDA credit has 40 years to maturity, including a ten-year grace period.