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Risk Management – Republic of Guyana

The major hazards which affect Guyana are flooding, drought, and industrial hazards. The country is prone to both coastal and riverine flooding. Drought is a recurrent feature of the environment because of the El Nino factor. Deforestation is occurring along the coast and in the inland regions. The processes used to exploit mineral resources such as bauxite and gold contributes to deforestation, flooding and environmental pollution.

The low-lying nature of the coast makes it prone to flooding in the rainy season. Areas are also prone to flash flooding. The removal of mangrove swamps and over-harvesting of inland forests have worsened flooding. Deforestation has led to soil erosion and the contamination of waterways. Coastal erosion also contributes to the risk of flooding and has resulted in salt-water intrusion into agricultural lands in some areas.

Poor practices in the bauxite and gold mining industries contribute to environmental degradation. These industries contribute to deforestation, soil erosion, air and water pollution. The waste disposal from mining activities that use chemicals such as mercury and cyanide in the recovery processes is a major concern. For example, in 1995 a cyanide spill at Omai Gold Mines affected 23,000 people. Air pollution is also a concern in industrial areas such as Linden where it has been linked to respiratory disorders.
Guyana is also prone for the effects of El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). In the warm phase (El Niño) Guyana experiences reduced rainfall while in the cold phase (La Niña) the country experiences increased rainfall, usually for months. The El Niño of 1997/98 has been blamed for the severely drought experienced by the Country. This has led water conservation measures.

INSTITUTIONAL SITUATION

The Civil Defense Commission (CDC) was established in 1982 to develop plans and perform all kinds of confrontation disaster in Guyana. The CDC reports to the President through the National Disaster Coordinator. The CDC is governed by general legislation governing the operations of the Office of the President. But today is in the process of drafting legislation designed to clarify responsibilities in relation to Disaster Risk Management and therefore have an effect on the operations of the CDC.

 

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