Amerindian development moving apace
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Under the previous People’s National Congress (PNC) government little or no emphasis was placed on Amerindian development, as such our indigenous people during that era faced severe hardships and were widely marginalised as well. Today, certainly all their difficulties have not been resolved but undoubtedly living conditions in their communities have considerably improved and they have greater access to education and health services, transportation, and water and electricity supply and employment opportunities.
These improvements in Amerindian communities have been as a result of a deliberate policy and programmes of this government to foster development among our indigenous people who were neglected, marginalised and exploited for a very long time.
This began with the vision and legendary late President Dr. Cheddi Jagan who established the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs soon after this government took office in 1992. The first Minister of Amerindian Affairs was Vibert DeSouza.
Ever since the establishment of this Ministry the pace of Amerindian development has been increasing and continuously more resources are being allocated in this regard. New schools, hospitals, health centres, solar power facilities, potable water supply facilities, etc, are now widely evident in the hinterland communities. And because of improved living conditions and greater educational opportunities Amerindians are increasingly asserting themselves; doing well in many spheres including the military, academics and business.
Minister of Housing and Water, Mr. Irfaan Ali, on a recent four-day visit to Region One (Barima/Waini), said: “Today, more than ever before, we can celebrate the accomplishments of our hinterland people.” He was speaking at Sebai Primary School, one of his stops assessing the water situation in light of the prolonged El Nino phenomenon that has caused tremendous hardship to most hinterland communities.
The riverine community of Sebai, which has a population of about 300 people, will benefit, in two weeks time, from a $7M intervention to ensure adequate water supply, Ali announced at a meeting where he listened to residents’ concerns.
He said the solar pumping system is going to include standpipes for the school and health centre and across the community.
Ali said the facility will comprise overhead storage, the solar system, the network and labour and admonished the residents to ensure they care it.
He said, in the budget is the solar home improvement system through which Government is giving homes to operate basic equipment and Sebai is one of the communities earmarked for receipt.
“Amerindians are taking their rightful place in this country. Not only are Amerindians specialists in hunting, farming and so on. They are also very intelligent people who are working to transform Guyana, working every day to help us build a stronger country,” Ali acknowledged.
“So, I think that, today, more than ever, we can celebrate the accomplishments of our Amerindian brothers and sisters. It shows that the government has a strong commitment to the Amerindian people and the Government believes, strongly, that Amerindians must, should and would contribute greatly to national development,” he added.
He announced that, within the next three years, according to the hinterland water strategy, a further $400M will be expended, $60M directly from the budget and, through support grants from the Japanese Government, 34 solar systems will be installed.
Ali said Guyana Water Inc. (GWI), with its own resources, is going to invest more, as well, in hinterland communities.
He said it is anticipated that approximately 150 solar pumping systems have to be installed, costing more than $130M and 120 overhead storage facilities constructed at a cost of $250M.
Ali anticipates that between 40 and 50 deep wells will have to be developed and, at Port Kaituma, because of the high level of salt content and the contamination, approximately $8M more will be expended on a community sand filter treatment type facility.
These are only some of the plans and progress in relation to one region. The situation in other regions predominantly inhabited by Amerindians is very similar. And from all indications the government intends to intensify investment to further improve the living conditions of Amerindians as resources become more available.

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