Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana – Overflowing Rivers Cause Widespread Flooding

Long-term rainfall has caused rivers to rise in northeastern South America, with flooding affecting communities in Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana.

Floods in Region 9, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo, Guyana, May 2022. Photo: Government of Guyana


Civil Defence Commission (CDC) in Guyana reported flooding in late May 2022 affected Region 5 (Mahaica-Berbice), Region 9 (Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo) and Region 10 (Upper Demerara-Upper Berbice). Red Cross confirmed that 100 people were evacuated from areas near Lethem in Region 9, with a total of around 500 people affected.

As of 27 May CDC reported flooding had worsened in Region 10, in particular in areas of Kwakwani on the Berbice River, where 37 households were affected and 3 families evacuated. On 28 May CDC reported flooding in Region 7 (Cuyuni-Mazaruni), in particular along the Cuyuni River.

Satellite imagery from the United Nations Satellite Centre (UNOSAT) show satellite-detected surface waters in Guyana between 25 to 29 May 2022 compared with the period from 20 to 24 May 2022. UNOSAT said a total of about 3,900 km2 of land appears to be affected with flood waters. Around 22,000 to 50,000 people are potentially exposed or living close to flooded areas.

In an update of 30 May, the National Taskforce on Flood Monitoring, through the Civil Defence Commission reported flood waters have started to recede in most impacted areas, although more rain is likely.

Satellite detected water extent between 25 and 29 May 2022 over Guyana
Floods in Region 9, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo, Guyana, May 2022. Photo: Government of Guyana
Floods in Region 9, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo, Guyana, May 2022. Photo: Government of Guyana


Flooding has affected parts of Suriname since March this year when the Tapanahoni, Lawa and Marowijne rivers began to overflow. Red Cross reported on 15 March 2022 that flooding had affected 7,500 people, mostly in communities along rivers in the districts of Sipaliwini and Marowijne. By late April this figure had increased to 15,000 and included areas of Brokopondo district where the situation was aggravated necessary water releases at the Afobakast dam whihc increased levels of the Suriname River downstream.

Rivers have remained high and the government announced on 21 May that it is to set up an emergency fund for affected residents. Soon after, the president also set up a “National Crisis Team” to tackle the problem of ongoing flooding in the country, with a central role in coordinating emergency aid. On 25 May the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) agreed to secure access to health care in flood-affected areas in the Sipaliwini and Brokopondo districts.

French Guiana

The overflowing Maroni (Lawa) River along the border with Suriname caused flooding in parts of Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni arrondissement, French Guiana, from mid-May 2022. Affected areas included Maripasoula, Papaïchton and Grand-Santi. Media reported around 35 families were evacuated. The government of French Guiana also reported high levels of the Oyapock river affected communities in Camopi. Authorities began delivering food and other relief supplies to affected communities from around 24 May.

Flooding in Amazonas state in Brazil have affected over 300,000 people.