With the aim of building resilience and sustainable livelihood through mainstreaming Disaster Risk Management/ Disaster Risk Reduction in Guyana’s agriculture sector, representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the Civil Defence Commission (CDC) and the Ministry of Agriculture today met to finalize the Project Implementation Work plan for Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) /Disaster Risk Management (DRM) in Guyana.
The workshop was held at the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Office and saw persons from a wide cross-section of society in participation.
In February 2016, the Government of Japan approved a USD 299,855 fund in support of building resilience and sustainable livelihood, to be implemented by the UNDP in coordination with the FAO and the other key stake holders in the sector. The project was built of the momentum of past and ongoing UNDP and FAO projects and initiatives in the field of Disaster Risk Management (DRM).
While delivering her welcoming remarks Ms. Shabnam Mallick, the Resident Representative for the UNDP, stated that agriculture is the most disaster sensitive sector and it is heavily dependent on improvement phenomena for DRR and DRM.
“Guyana is extremely susceptible to hydro disasters and with this several United Nations agencies have been playing a major role in coordinating disaster risk management initiatives as there is a vital need to strengthen disaster risk management in Guyana.” Ms. Mallick stated.
Historically, Guyana’s agriculture sector plays an important role in Guyana’s economy and accounts for approximately 25 percent of our national Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and provides more than 33 percent of direct employment.
While delivering the feature address, Agriculture Minister Hon. Noel Holder acknowledged the significance of the occasion, adding that the agricultural sector plays a significant role in the fight against poverty and food and nutrition insecurity, among other factors.
“Since the implementation of the Disaster Risk Management Plan, the Ministry has witnessed several achievements within the area of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management through the success of various activities… We have been also able to spearhead the development of documents and implementation of initiatives which have benefitted stakeholders across the sector,” he said.
Among the areas of development included the development of a detailed Pesticides and Toxic Chemicals Emergency Response Plan for Guyana, with associated training for major chemical importers and vendors; addressing gaps in existing livelihood baseline data; investing in Disaster Risk Reduction for Resilience through various initiatives, including communication of information on building designs to farmers in vulnerable areas, so as to minimize negative impacts; building of a chemical storage facility and the establishment of agro-meteorological stations across Guyana.
Recognizing the need for mainstreaming, Minister Holder lauded the continued effort of the development agencies in Guyana’s quest to have a functional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management plan in place giving the topography of its coast being below sea level.
Meanwhile, FAO’s Country Representative to Guyana Mr. Reuben Robertson alluded to the fact that the FAO has been instrumental in affording strong partnerships, especially at the level of disaster risk reduction in Guyana which continues to proven feasible.
Expounding on the importance of the forum, Mr. Robertson pointed to the fact that improved decision-making and coordination is necessary if Guyana is to respond to disaster at the regional level.
The importance of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management were also underscored by Director General of the Civil Defence Commission Col. Chabilall Ramsarup and Agricultural Diversification Specialist within the Ministry of Agriculture, Dr. Jean David who delivered presentation on the way forward for Guyana using a more collaborative approach.
At the end of the day’s proceedings, the participants were expected to give inputs through suggestions and recommendation on the way forward, with the aim of ensuring a successful Project Implementation Work plan which can garner the support of all key players in the industry.
The forum was held under the theme, ““Building Resilience and Sustainable Livelihood” and looked at ways to strengthen capacities and operating frameworks within the agriculture sector to prevent and mitigate the impacts of disasters, while promoting efficient and effective restoration of livelihoods through a well-coordinated mechanism.