US$299,000 project to enhance protection of indigenous rights
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–promote preservation of forest, environment

THE Amerindian Peoples’ Association (APA) has secured a grant of €252,500 (roughly US$299,000) from the French Government to enhance the protection of indigenous rights, forest resources and the environment.

According to a press release from the APA, the project: “Protecting indigenous rights, the forest and the environment in Guyana,” is being supported with funds from the French Government’s Solidarity Fund for Innovative Projects (FSPI).

The project commenced in June, 2021, and will run for one year with the possibility of renewal for another year, the APA said.

The project aims to influence national policy towards better forest management and indigenous peoples’ rights; strengthen indigenous peoples’ governing bodies for improved territorial governance and protection of forests; engage in territorial monitoring in efforts to reduce forest crimes and mainstream women and youth involvement in community economies.

It will also support the governance and decision-making processes of indigenous peoples through their District Councils and other representative bodies, the strengthening of their institutional and technical capacities to monitor their lands, as well as provide other tangible support.

The APA will collaborate with indigenous communities in Regions One, Seven and Eight through the Moruca District Council, the Upper Mazaruni District Council and North Pakaraimas District Council, respectively.

The APA believes that “new revenue” from Guyana’s offshore oil development could either be spent in ways that protect forests and achieve sustainable development goals, or it could expose vast portions of the country’s remote interior to poorly planned infrastructural development and subsequent resource-plundering.

“This project focuses on win-win strategies by taking advantage of this critical window in time, including government’s promise to add two million hectares to the country’s protected areas portfolio to provide long-term protection to Guyana’s forests and staggering natural beauty,” the APA related.

On Tuesday, President, Dr. Irfaan Ali, in his message to commemorate the beginning of Amerindian Heritage Month, recommitted his government’s intention to update the Amerindian Act, which, he said, will become the “principal legal” instrument for protection of indigenous peoples’ rights, including guarantees of their entitlement to their lands and rights over those lands.

“The updated Act will entrench provisions that will promote greater Amerindian inclusion in decision-making and greater integration in national development. It will outline an enhanced role for Amerindians in the management of their communities and control over their resources, including measures aimed at protecting the environment and ensuring sustainable development,” Dr. Ali said.

He noted that in keeping with promises made by the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), the government has started to adopt measures to improve access to the delivery of education, health services, housing, and infrastructure within Amerindian communities.

“Through the injection of resources into the Amerindian Development Fund, we are also stimulating economic projects in Amerindian villages, thereby generating jobs and providing incomes,” President Ali noted.

The Head of State said that his administration is wholeheartedly committed to improving the lives of all Amerindians over the next five years and beyond.
“We will build on our past record of promoting and supporting Amerindian rights and development,” Dr. Ali posited.

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