The Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs’ and its partners are on the verge of concluding the final stages of consultations before rolling out the much touted Sustainable Development Agreement Framework (SDAF) in Villages and Communities across Guyana.
The Ministry in collaboration with Conservation International hosted key stakeholders including a team from Brazil for a three day workshop to ensure there is clarity on all aspects of the framework, while at the same time learning from Brazil’s experiences.
The three-day engagement commenced Tuesday last at the Splashmins Resort on the Linden/Soesdyke highway.
The SDAF once completed, will be used as an instrument to effect long term changes in the lives of the Indigenous Peoples through effective sustainable livelihood programs with support from key government and non-governmental actors.
During the opening session Vice President and Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Sydney Allicock told participants that a framework of this nature, is necessary at this critical juncture when the Guyana Government is forging ahead towards a green economy.
“With the implementation of the Sustainable Development Agreement Framework, we hope to rectify most if not all the short comings and challenges we face presently in terms of development for the IP’s, but this would need lots of commitment and resources, at this time I would like to put on record special mention of Dr. Sing and team who have been very instrumental and supportive in terms of providing the financial and technical assistance to the project”, Minister Allicock opined.Meanwhile, Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs Valerie Garrido-Lowe acknowledged the role Conservation International (C.I) has and continues to play in this process.
Minister Garrido-Lowe said “everyone who has a vision and want to build on that vision and make it a reality must realize that it is built on relationships. You can be the biggest star, a scholar, or could be in the highest position, if you don’t try to build that relationship or have that people skill to make sure you get your vision going, is either you start and fall or you never start. We have come this far with the Framework because of the relationship Minister Allicock and Dr. Singh (C.I) has had over the years”.
A section of the participants attending the workshop.
Conservation International’s Executive Director Dr. David Singh said while it is his organizations role to secure natural capita “we are one player of many, we are here working together to create a future that we all want and a future that we all need and we are seized with many common purposes and one of those fundamental purposes is the recognition that the people need nature to thrive”.
Dr. Singh noted that in Guyana, there is that need for development with a human face and C.I is pleased to be given the opportunity to be strategically placed to facilitate the shaping of that future.
Sharing similar sentiments were Chair of the National Toshao’s Council Joel Fredericks and World Wildlife Fund’s Senior Technical Officer Chuck Hutchinson who both acknowledged the efforts made by partners to develop a mechanism which seeks to improve the livelihoods of the indigenous peoples.
Meanwhile, in 2004 the Brazilian Government established a similar program the “Bolsa Verde” a “Green Grant” which is an Environmental Conservation Support Program which provides incentives to more than seventy thousand persons from five regions and twenty five states living under extreme poverty conditions.
Families selected must meet the social protection program criteria and will receive benefits totaling R$ 300 Reais or $US94 quarterly under one condition; that they invest in activities that support sustainable use of forest resources and environmental conservation.
The areas targeted are Protected Areas, Land Settlements and territories occupied by traditional people.
Fernando Riberio C.I Brazil said “going in the fields and seeing people living in an extreme poverty situations and wanting to know how they are doing, you know you can do more and Conservation International Brazil has done an extremely good job with the Ministry of Agrarian and Development and I think we can strengthen our relationship even in Guyana and bring more knowledge if you can “.
The key areas focused on, include identifying challenges, opportunities and strategies to enhance political and financial stability, effective communication and connecting the SDAF and the Bolsa Verde to National and Regional developmental efforts.
Leonardo Pacheco Brazil’s representative believes Guyana is one step ahead of Brazil in that “the work that you are doing here is very good in that you work with the communities and not just the families which is much more effective than just working with the families that’s why in Bolsa Verde now, we are starting to work with the communities because it is much more important than just working with the families”.
Among the many success stories coming out from the “Bolsa Verde” program is the fact that last year alone, more than twenty thousand persons were removed from the list of beneficiaries since the program boosted their income well above the poverty line. In 2017, close to five thousand persons were removed from the list.
Meanwhile, on the local scene the SDAF is currently being tested and refined in forty nine (49) villages, satellites and communities in Rupununi, Region 9.
Key players include the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Conservation International, the National Toshao’s Council, World Wildlife Fund, the Regional Democratic Council, Kanuku Mountains Community Representative Group (KMCRG) and North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB).