Gov’t preparing for projected increase in natural disasters – Harmon

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By Devina Samaroo

State Minister Joseph Harmon this morning (Wednesday, May 31, 2017) announced that government is preparing to build its resilience against an anticipated increase in natural disasters.

Minister of State, Joseph Harmon

Harmon was delivering remarks during the opening of a one-day workshop which aims at supporting countries to advance their National Adaptation Plan (NAP) regarding climate change.

He noted that Guyana is significantly vulnerable to climate change and based on studies, this is expected to increase in the coming years.

He highlighted that a significant percentage of the country’s housing settlement, infrastructure and economic activities are located along the Coast, putting the country at a greater risk.

Additionally, Harmon highlighted that the country’s inherent characteristics allow for massive flooding from heavy rainfall or overflowing of river banks, as well as drought on a regular basis.

He referenced the recent unprecedented flooding in hinterland communities in Regions 7 and 8, explaining that the residents were astonished by the incident. “The villagers said to me that this is unusual and I said to them, ‘this is climate change’,” Harmon stated.

He emphasised that climate change is not just an acronym, or a term or a concept, but “a real issue” that needs to be addressed on all fronts.

The State Minister stressed that the urgency is much greater now in light of predictions of worsened conditions – which will also affect Guyana.

“Natural hazards are expected to increase due to projected temperature increase, sea level rise, and higher storm surges based on outputs of climate models,” he stated.

In Guyana, Harmon said increased heavy rainfalls are anticipated and the government is taking measures to minimise the negative impacts on the population.

He also acknowledged the efforts of the government in combating the affects of climate change and working towards becoming a Green State.

Meanwhile, the workshop was built within the joint United Nations (UN) Environment – UNDP NAP – Global Support Programme with the financial support of the Global Environment Facility.

It included participants from Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, St Kitts and Nevis, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadine, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago.

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