May 20, 2022 News
By Rehanna Ramsay
Kaieteur News – Keeping Guyana’s forest intact is critical to fighting climate change. Standing forests absorb greenhouse gases, regulate water flows and protect coastal communities from extreme events and sea level rise, thereby addressing the impacts of climate change.
The forest are not only helpful in this regard, it has significant value in development of Indigenous communities as well as the overall development of the country.
This is reflective in the country’s Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) which has for the over the past decade driven development in Amerindian communities through the creation of low carbon jobs; helped Amerindian villages to receive the titles for communal lands; equip those villages with renewable energy facilities and digital infrastructure as well as provide sustainable livelihood opportunities for Guyanese.
During a recent airing of the Kaieteur Radio’s programme , “Corruption Governance and Justice,” hosted by Kaieteur News Senior reporter Kiana Wilburg, Coordinator of the Amerindian Land Titling (ALT) project at the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, Monica Sharma spoke at length about the benefits yielded by Amerindians from the LCDS programme.
According to her, the LCDS programme which was implement in 2009, has so far earned Guyana millions which was directly invested in the development of Amerindian villages.
Sharma noted that “In November of 2009, the Government of Guyana and the Government of Norway signed a historic agreement where Guyana will be paid for its standing forest that’s the basis on which the LCDS is was developed.
So now specifically for the Amerindians or first peoples, they are a direct beneficiary of monies that have already been earned.”
She explained, “Thus far, now in from 2009 to 2015, I think Guyana would have earned in excess of $210 million through this partnership with the government of Norway…”
The ALT coordinator noted that as a matter of policy, the government set up a programme for some of the funds to be utilized under the Amerindian Land Titling
She explained that the Amerindian Land Titling projects basically ensures that Amerindians have legal rights to the lands that they occupy, and it relieves the financial burden on Amerindian communities for obtaining the legal document.
“Okay, so for you to have a title, a certificate of title, which is a legal document to say that you have boundaries your land, is demarcated by actual physical boundaries on the ground, right, you have to pay for the survey to be done,” explained the ALT coordinator.
“So this could be a very costly exercise for our first peoples [Amerindians] and so the Amerindian land titling project aims to relieve that financial burden from communities to having for having the demarcation paid for and done by the Lands and Surveys Commission, who has the authority to do so,” she added.
According to Sharma so far, 21 communities have been demarcated up until 2020 at the end of 2020, and after that, five additional communities have been demarcated, that is just specifically under the ALT project.
She explained further that given the titles, Amerindians can now stand up in a court of law against anyone trying to encroach upon their land.
“… And you know, we have a lot you know, when it comes to areas like mining and forestry, and even without those activities going on, you do have you know encroachment on land for various reasons.
In addition, to issuing land titles, Sharma said that major pillar under the ALT project, has been able to train over 200 persons in communities across Guyana in conflict resolution.
As it relates to the future of the programme, she noted that LCDS will take on new projects in time for 2030.
“I’m sure 2030 for as well, Amerindian development will continue and the government again the leadership of Guyana has said that, at least not at least 15% of all monies earned under the LCDS goes directly to Amerindian development.
So whether it’s land titling, whether it’s access to technology, whichever project you know is necessary for identified as necessary for Amerindian development 15% of the monies earned on the LCDS goes directly towards Amerindian…” Sharma added.
She said too that the development for LCDS 2030 is not just about Amerindian development.
According to the coordinator: “It’s much broader; it’s development of Guyana and so when I’m going to speak specifically to our first peoples, whilst they will benefit directly from this 15%, the remaining 85% that’s going to be going to go towards overall development for all Guyanese Amerindians will be benefiting from that too.”
“You will see development across all the sectors, whether it be health, education, infrastructure, agriculture, ICT technology and so forth and so Amerindians, again, will benefit from all of this development as well. So LCDS 2030 goes beyond a ALT project. That’s just one project that that looks at Amerindian development, giving them rights to their land. But yes, LCDS 2030 goes way beyond,” added Sharma.
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