UNITAR-UNOSAT is currently collaborating with UNDP and national stakeholders on a 3-year project that aims to bolster disaster management capacity in Guyana and Dominica, with a specific focus on women.
In September 2018, UNITAR-UNOSAT took the first concrete step toward implementing an early warning system for floods in Guyana by carrying out a scoping mission to meet project partners and identified key stakeholders from national ministries. The mission team composed of UNOSAT and implementing partner CIMA staff met with the Director General of the Civil Defense Commission, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, the Director Chief of Hydromet (under MoA), the Senior Gender Affairs Officer of the Ministry of Social Protection and representatives from other UN agencies. In addition, a multi-stakeholder workshop took place to consult various technical officials and relevant key stakeholders. The meetings provided an opportunity to discuss the needs and challenges relating to Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) and EWS activities. Technical gaps and available capacity within the country were also examined with a view to developing a national flood forecasting chain and targeting appropriate agencies to ensure a sustainable handover after the 3-year project. In this spirit, capacity development activities will be delivered to achieve expected outcomes and assist the key national stakeholders in Guyana with maintaining and running the model to provide early warnings for areas at risk of flooding.
In an effort to potentially pilot the EWS, UNDP selected an area that is highly exposed to flooding: Kamarang. A field visit there allowed us to examine weather stations, participate in a disaster risk management workshop with community Chiefs and a gender-focused participatory workshop with the community to discuss the early warning system.
The gender component of the overall project is noteworthy: women and indigenous groups vulnerable to natural disasters are the priority beneficiary groups we are trying to reach. Indeed, unfortunately, women in the agricultural sector in Guyana are disproportionately affected by the loss of assets and crops after a disaster because they are often involved in a smaller scale, more remote activities despite having increased reproductive and community responsibilities. A social norm also considers men as producers with control over assets and businesses whereas women process, market and benefit from goods. The project aims not only to reduce women’s vulnerability to disasters; the gender analysis will also inform policies that seek to reduce unequal roles between men and women within the agricultural sector and beyond.