TWELVE Amerindian leaders were yesterday presented with grants of various amounts to promote job creation, income generation and developmental projects in their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. During a simple ceremony held in the benab at the Sophia Exhibition Centre, toshaos and village council representatives collected grants ranging from $3M to $15M, which were sourced from the $105M that has been allocated by the government for a COVID-19 relief fund for Amerindian villages.
The villages benefiting were Santa Mission, Caria Caria, Lower Bonasika and Saxacalli, all located in Region Three; St. Cuthbert’s Mission, Swan, Waikabra and Long Creek (known as Tigerbone Banakari), located in Region Four; Moraikobai, which is the only Amerindian village in Region Five, and Orealla, Siparuta and Cashew Island (New River Triangle) in Region Six.
Minster of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, noted that the initiative was the beginning of a series of projects aimed at developing the hinterland regions and Amerindian villages.
The grants are expected to create a foundation for communities to be able to live with COVID-19 in the long-term by creating a means through which sustainable livelihood, opportunities for young people and the enhancement of infrastructure can be achieved.
“Our government is making a significant support initiative to ensure that the hinterland and the Amerindian communities are able to place a strong foundation in ensuring that their population remains stable. We hope that the Amerindian leaders, the Council, and the villagers make use of this financial support to put themselves in full preparation mode, to ensure that we have not only a COVID-free population, but that many of the linkages that will ensure our sustainability will be kept,” she said.
Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry of Local Government and Regional Development, Anand Persaud, said the grant allocation was in keeping with the government’s promise to mitigate the negative impact that the pandemic has had on Guyana, with special emphasis being placed on communities and villages in the hinterland.
Divergent to the $25,000 COVID-19 relief cash grant currently being disbursed to households throughout Guyana, the relief fund will be used for village and community projects that will positively affect the residents’ livelihood.
According to Minister Persaud, the establishment of the fund is part of a longstanding effort to buttress hinterland villages against the numerous hindrances caused by the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic.