In line with its mandate to “recognize and protect the collective rights of Amerindian Villages and Communities” (Amerindian Act 2006), and affirming the basic human right of Amerindians to livelihood, the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs in partnership with Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO) launched its National Secure Livelihoods Programme (NSLP) in June 2009. This is “to address the many challenges hampering economic development in the Amerindian Villages and hinterland communities,” (NSL Programme, Region 1). Central to this aim are: the creation of employment opportunities; sustaining food security; income generation, wealth creation, economic diversification and secure livelihoods. Thus, the MOAA employed the services of six (6) VSO Specialists to stir economic development in one of Guyana’s Regions, namely Region 1. The VSO’s are not only technical advisers in their respective fields, but also entrepreneurs spearheading enterprise development in the Villages. Concomitant to this sharing of skills is capacity building in terms of training 12 Community Based Volunteers to assist the VSO’s in their respective fields’:
- Pest Management
- Food Technology
- Business Development
- Marketing and Finance
- Organizational Development
The implementation of the projects was approved by Cabinet on June 11, 2009. Investment budget was approved by the Ministry of Finance in October, 2009. Investment disbursements of funds were deposited in the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs Account on the November 02, 2009. The MOAA was front-loaded resources from the Purpose Fund Account to off-set early implementation expenditure.
In consultation with Village Councils, seven (7) initiatives have been proposed, which cover the following areas:
- Four (4) combined agriculture and value adding enterprises (Pineapple, Orange & Passion Fruit, Ginger and Cassava).
- One (1) value adding enterprise (Crabwood oil).
- One (1) aquaculture and value adding enterprise.
- One (1) apiculture (honey) and value adding enterprise.
The operational budget for the NSLP has been fully expended; while out of the $79, 276,000 allocated for investment cost, only $24,664, 227 has been expended on NSLP investment in 2009.