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Factsheet September 2, 2020

The World Bank in Guyana

Last updated: September 3

Country Overview

  • Guyana is one of the poorest countries in South America, with 43.4% of the population living on less than US$ 5.50 per person a day in 2011 Purchasing Power Parity (PPP).
  • The country has the highest emigration rate in the world – 80% of nationals with tertiary education leave Guyana and more than 55% of its citizens reside abroad– making it among the largest recipients of remittances relative to GDP in Latin American and the Caribbean.
  • Recent rises in active cases of COVID-19 and deaths are cause for concern. Economically, Guyana is facing many challenges from the closure of borders and drops in commodity prices during the pandemic.
  • Heavily dependent on exports of gold, bauxite, and agricultural products, Guyana became one of the top 20 largest oil and gas reserve holders in the world following a series of substantial discoveries offshore starting in 2015
  •  To manage the expected resource windfall, Guyana needs to improve the quality and capacity of public and private institutions; make revenue collection and management more efficient and transparent; and adopt sound macroeconomic and fiscal management policies.
  • As the government begins to develop the oil and gas sector, ensuring governance mechanisms that adhere to international environmental and social standards is critical to avoid many of the issues resource-rich countries have faced.

World Bank Engagement in Guyana

  • The current World Bank project portfolio in Guyana amounts to US$61 million across five projects in the areas of education, energy and extractives, flood risk management, and the financial sector. These projects contribute to Guyana’s efforts to enhance resilience to natural disasters, improve the quality of education and skills, and support private sector development initiatives, particularly by focusing on improving the business environment and financial sector development, all identified as priorities through broad-based consultations.
  • Human development has been a long-term focus in the Bank’s support to Guyana, with a previous project focusing on early childhood services that helped raise literacy and numeracy rates among young learners, as well as a school feeding project that helped increase enrollment.
  • Two ongoing projects in the education sector aim to build Guyana’s future skilled workforce. The Education Sector Improvement Project aims to improve mathematics education and the University of Guyana’s Faculty of Health Sciences. The Secondary Education Improvement Project is also strengthening mathematics teaching skills and increasing enrollment in secondary schools.
  • The Guyana Petroleum Resources Governance and Management Project aims to support the country to develop better legal and institutional frameworks. It will also boost the capacity of key institutions to manage the oil and gas sector to maximize economic and social benefits for Guyana. The project provides a range of technical, advisory, and capacity measures to improve governance and transparency as well as prudent management of the oil and gas sector and its revenues. It includes strengthening institutions, laws, and regulations - including on health, safety, and environmental protection - and promoting strong checks and balances in the process. It will also support the country’s Environmental Protection Agency in overseeing petroleum sector activities to minimize environmental, social, and climate-related risks.
  • This Project also supports Guyana’s efforts to mitigate climate change by advising on the drafting and enforcement of legislation and regulations that forbid routine flaring of associated gas during petroleum production, and the adoption of the Zero Routine Flaring Initiative. The project will also support government efforts to enhance social accountability through information campaigns and citizen engagement.
  •  Through the Flood Risk Management Project, civil works are underway to improve drainage, update critical sections of the East Demerara Water Conservancy dams and channels, and improve hydro-meteorological monitoring.
  • The Guyana Payments System Project is working to make the national payments system safer, more modern, and more efficient. The Bank of Guyana will benefit from increased capacity to operate the core payments infrastructure.