The US$3.2M Cunha Canal rehabilitation project has been launched and is expected to begin almost immediately. The project is to be executed by the Ministry of Agriculture through the National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA) and will be administered by the World Bank.
The project is being funded through the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund that is providing 91.7 per cent or US$3million of the estimated cost with the Government of the Cooperative Republic of Guyana contributing US$270,000 or 8.3 per cent.
The project entails, the construction of a bridge across the Land of Canaan Public Road, fixing the gate and upgrading the sluice at the outlet of the East Demerara Water Conservancy (EDWC) and the construction of a new sluice into the outlet of the Cunha Canal into the Demerara River.
Delivering the feature address at the launch of the project, Minister of Agriculture, Noel Holder, said that the Cunha Canal is a key element to the operation of the East Demerara Water Conservancy. The canal has been out of operation for some time.
“Located at the end of the conservancy the Cunha Canal is intended to serve two purposes, the first is to drain the nearby farming areas Kuru Kururu, Coverden, Pearl and Sarah Johanna and the second use is to manage water levels in the conservancy which, during critical rainy periods needs drainage to keep water levels from exceeding the safe operating levels.” Holder explained .
Neighbourhood Democratic Council (NDC) Chariman of Caledonia/Good Success, Dwarka Nauth said that this project was nothing but a dream for residents and farmers of the area.
“The rehabilitation of the Cunha high level relief canal is a dream come through for the NDC and the residents in the entire NDC. When the canal had closed some years ago the NDC had protested the closure but our protests fell on deaf ears so we were of the opinion that the Cunha Canal would have been never reopened,” Nauth said.
The project is likely to be undertaken over a 12 month period. . The contract for the project was signed by Finance Minister, Winston Jordan and World Bank Representatives and was subsequently handed over to the Ministry of Agriculture in 2016.
Minister Holder further explained that, “the 2005 and 2006 floods left the EDWC dam in a weakened state, in need of maintenance and re-enforcement, and highlighted the fact that the EDWC did not have adequate drainage capacity to protect the dam during storm events. Since that time, the Government of Guyana has repaired sections of the dam damaged during the flood and some parts still have marginal stability.”
The weakened state highlighted vulnerabilities in infrastructure which would hinder adequate drainage of flood waters. The Government of Guyana with assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Japanese International Cooperation Agency has been investing in the constructing, maintaining and rehabilitating drains, canals, pump stations and intake and outfall structures in Region Four.
The GRIF Project is being facilitated by the Project Management Unit, Ministry Of The Presidency.
The EDWC covers an area 571 kilometres (km) and stores approximately 250 million cubic meters of water at the maximum safe-operating water level. It is dammed on three sides by a shallow earth embankment 67 km long, parallel to the Demerara River, the Atlantic Ocean and Mahaica River.
A series of canals controlled by sluices drain water from the EDWC thereby reducing water levels and avoiding overtopping or stressing of the dams which may increase the risk of structural failure.
The Cunha Canal Rehabilitation Project is one of eight projects funded by the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund to the value of US $190M.