– Budget 2021 to set framework for comprehensive upgrade of countrywide D&I system
Residents on the Essequibo Coast continue to benefit from a number of drainage and irrigation works as Government continues to put systems in place to mitigate flooding in the Region. The National Drainage and Irrigation Authority (NDIA), on Tuesday last, completed clearing and desilting of the Somerset Outfall channel. This channel is said to drain excess water from the Somerset main canal, as well as, the Tapakuma Lake.
The works, which were executed to the tune of GY $2M, ties into a series of drainage works being done in the Region to bring relief to persons who were affected by flooding over the past few weeks. Heavy rainfall, coupled with a lack of much needed maintenance works to a number of canals and drains in both residential and commercial areas in several parts of Charity and Pomeroon, resulted in many residential, commercials and farming areas experiencing instances of flooding.
Agriculture Minister, Zulfikar Mustapha said that the Ministry is currently engaged in a number of ongoing projects of this nature around the country.
“The NDIA is currently executing a number of projects that involve desilting and clearing of a number of outfall channels and canals. Most of these structures have not been maintained for a number of years and that has contributed to a lot of the flooding farmers have experienced during the rainy season,” Minister Mustapha said.
The subject minister further disclosed that farmers across the country can look forward to a number of works being executed once the 2021 budget, which is scheduled to be presented in the National Assembly next month, is passed.
“NDIA, which is one of the most important agencies under the Ministry’s umbrella, has been operating without a clear work programme for a number of years. No ground work was done to know what works were needed in these farming communities. During my many community outreaches since becoming Agriculture Minister, the most pressing issue was the lack of proper drainage. Build-up in these outfall channels and canals contributes to the poor drainage experienced in these communities. Without a proper work programme Central Government cannot make funds available to carry out these works. Since taking office, I’ve instructed the NDIA to go into the communities and see what needs to be done, develop a work programme so that we can make proper representation for these works to be done,” Minister Mustapha said.
This, he said, will set the framework for a comprehensive upgrade to the nation’s D&I system. Minister Mustapha went on to say that with rising sea levels and somewhat unpredictable weather patterns due to climate change, Government is keen on improving the current drainage system in an effort to mitigate instances of flooding.
Last year, the National Assembly approved some GY $18.4B for the development of the agriculture sector, of which $9B was allocated to the NDIA for drainage and irrigation works across the country. Prior to 2020, the agriculture sector saw a constant decline in budgetary allocations, which resulted in notable contractions to, what is considered, one of Guyana’s most important productive sectors.