Minister of Communities –  Honourable Ronald Bulkan, Message for World Water Day, March 22, 2020.

Today, March 22, is a day designated by the United Nations to highlight, and remind everyone of, the importance of water.

This year’s theme, ‘Nature and Climate Change’, explores how water and climate change are inextricably linked. The global demand for water has been increasing at a rate of about 1% per year as a function of population growth, economic development and changing

consumption patterns, among other factors, and it is predicted to grow significantly over the next two decades. Simultaneously, the global water cycle is intensifying owing to climate change, with wetter regions generally becoming wetter and drier regions becoming even drier (WWAP/UN‐Water, 2018).

As a country, we must recognise that water is our most precious natural resource – we must use it more responsibly. We must balance all of society’s water needs while ensuring that at-risk groups such as; women, our Indigenous Peoples, Differently-Abled Persons (DAP’s) and youths are not marginalised.

For too long uninformed decisions related to surface and groundwater abstractions have been made and this unapprised practise, has the potential to cause depletion of our water resources. More important than ever, there is need for the implementation of the appropriate regulatory framework, improved knowledge in management of our water resources and the need for capacity building of professionals in the water resources management fraternity. It is against this backdrop, that the government of Guyana has embarked on a Decade of Development centred particularly on improved governance, education and green development of which special focus will be given to the management of our natural resources.

Currently, the on-going technical cooperation with the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) to provide funding for consultancies to (a) prepare detailed designs, drawings, cost upgrade of water supply infrastructure in Mabaruma, Walton Hall to Charity, Wakenaam, Leguan Island, Bush Lot West Coast Berbice, Tain to No. 50 Village and Mahdia; (b) conduct a study to determine the feasibility of utilising water from the Hope Canal for domestic supply and (c) prepare a national water and sanitation policy and associated strategic plans. This technical cooperation highlights the vital and necessary developments needed in a rapidly developing country such as ours.

In addition, Guyana Water Inc. has embarked on procuring drilling rigs and ancillaries to conduct in-house drilling and maintenance of wells in the coastal, riverain and drought prone communities across Guyana. They have already commenced geo-electric logging in the Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo region to locate potential sources of groundwater. Training is also ongoing and a new Groundwater and Wells Services Unit has been established within the organisation, which will focus specifically on the sustainable abstraction of groundwater.

It is significant to note that with the impacts of climate change and owing to the increasing economic growth of our country, urban expansions, coupled with other socio-economic developments, the demand for water for domestic, industrial, recreational, agricultural and environmental requirements is expected to increase exponentially. Moreover, as Guyana like many other countries grapple with the COVID-19 global pandemic outbreak the importance of water is further highlighted in ensuring proper hygienic practices and sanitization.  Therefore, the challenges related to water resources management must be addressed to ensure countrywide access, adequacy and sustainability.