Water policy and governance in Guyana, “the land of many waters”
Thesis DisciplineWater Resource Management
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Water Resource Management
Effective water policies and good governance strategies are essential for sustainable development. Successful management of fresh water resources also requires the integration of the different sectors that use this resource. Therefore, water resource management policies should have an integrated approach that involves social, economic and environmental factors.
Guyana, an American Indian word for “land of many waters”, officially the Co-operative Republic of Guyana, is located on the north-east coast of South America. It can be said that water is part of the country’s identity, because of its inclusion in the definition of the country’s name and because of the abundance of this natural resource within the country’s borders. Additionally, the agriculture sector, which contributed 21.8% of Guyana’s annual GDP in 2016 uses 94.4% of the annually extracted freshwater. Effective policies and governance strategies are therefore important for the sustainable development of Guyana.
This research investigated the current water policy and governance strategies of Region 4, Guyana. The study assessed how the water threats of the Region are outpacing existing water management policies. It also analysed policy gaps in the existing legislation through the lens of the adaptive integrated water resource management (AIWRM) process. This was done by using data from semi-structured interviews and by analysing existing laws. This study thus advances understanding of using the AIWRM process for policy development and implementation in Region 4, Guyana.
The results show that there are multiple challenges to water policy in Guyana and that the existing laws are not effectively addressing these policies, because of several factors, such as the age of the legislation, the technical nature of the management strategy proposed by these laws, and the general top-down governance structure established by these Acts. These factors limit the ability of existing laws to effectively manage current and future water challenges in Region 4, Guyana. The results also show that some of the laws have aspects of AIWRM; however, policies that will give effects to these laws have not been developed, therefore the benefits derived by including the principles of AIWRM into water policy have not been realised. It is concluded that the findings offer insights into how the existing laws can be combined with the AIWRM process to address the current and future water challenges of Region 4, Guyana.
Keywords: Water policy, governance, adaptive management, integrated water resources management, Guyana.