Natural Hazard Risk

Suriname is one of the most vulnerable countries to river and coastal floods. Almost 30 percent of the country is within a few meters above sea level, making it susceptible to coastal flooding.  Additionally, as nearly 90 percent of Suriname’s population (two thirds of whom live in the capital, Paramaribo) and most of the country’s fertile land and economic activity are located in the 384 kilometer-long coastal plain, sea level rise represents a very significant development challenge. By estimates, a one-meter rise would impact over 6.4 percent of gross domestic product, 7 percent of the population, and 5.6 percent of agricultural land. The impact to agriculture is of particular concern as the sector is critical to Suriname’s economy.

Heavy rainfall, in May 2008, flooded villages and crops in Suriname’s eastern coastal and inland areas (Marowijne, Lawa, and Tapanahony). In the southern region, an estimated 30 percent of the livestock, 65 percent of crops, and 90 percent of the fishing industry were impacted. Greater rainfall variability due to climate change is expected to lead to an increased occurrence of droughts, and to some extent, landslides.

Government Priorities

The government has scaled up efforts to integrate disaster risk management (DRM) into national policies and long-term sustainable development plans. In 2006, the Ministry of Defense, the main actor in national policies on disaster management, established the National Coordination Center for Disaster Relief. The division develops national DRM policies through disaster risk prevention and collaboration with regional governments. Additionally, addressing climate change is a key priority in Suriname’s most recent National Development Plan, with proposed approaches including strengthening DRM and developing catastrophe risk insurance to lessen the impact of floods and climatic shocks.

To consolidate the country’s policies on climate change mitigation, Suriname launched the Climate Compatible Development Agency in 2011. The agency leads Suriname’s Climate Change Fund by managing financing that is secured for climate change adaption; by helping secure international funding to redress climate impacts; and, by supporting the Climate Compatible Knowledge Institute for scientific research.

To further advance its DRM agenda, the Government of Suriname is prioritizing:

  • Reducing vulnerability to climate change related to floods;
  • Enhancing DRM institutional frameworks; and,         
  • Developing a disaster risk financing and insurance strategy. 
GFDRR progress to date

GFDRR’s engagement in Suriname is relatively recent. Currently, GFDRR-financed technical assistance is helping Suriname build the foundation for a comprehensive flood risk management DRM program in the Greater Paramaribo area. Activities started in 2016 with the aim of producing a strategic flood risk assessment that includes hydrological and tidal analyses and provides initial rainfall and storms estimates for various return periods and river levels in the Saramacca and Suriname Rivers. Based on the assessment, a flood management investment plan will be developed for critical flood management infrastructure, flood monitoring, forecasting, and emergency response. This project will complement a World Bank project in Latin America and the Caribbean region, which aims to enable governments to quantify and reduce current asset risks and will also contribute to the implementation of the World Bank Forest Action Plan 2016-20. Additionally, the findings and developments from this technical assistance will be shared with other members of the Small Island States Resilience Initiative (SISRI).

GFDRR anticipates new and continued demand from the Government of Suriname for:

  • Improving flood risk management in the capital city, Paramaribo;
  • Strengthening the resilience of key infrastructure susceptible to flooding such as riverbank protection works, canals, and urban drainage systems;
  • Defining an adequate catastrophe risk financing strategy, including future participation in the Caribbean Catastrophe Risk Insurance Facility (CCRIF SPC);
  • Integrating risk management strategies into development planning and private investment; and,       
  • Developing strategic interventions and policies to address climate change impacts.