US$1.6B land titling/demarcation project commences

Essequibo River Longest river in Guyana, and the largest river between the Orinoco and Amazon. Rising in the Acarai Mountains near the Brazil-Guyana border, the Essequibo flows to the north for 1,010 km through forest and savanna into the Atlantic Ocean. Iwokrama Reserve GUYANA South America

The Amerindian Peoples Association (APA), along with its partners, the Indigenous Peoples Affairs Ministry, the National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) and the South Rupununi District Council (SRDC)/ South Central People’s Development Association (SCPDA), have embarked on a two-year project aimed at promoting the demarcation and tilting of Indigenous lands in Guyana as well as the revision of the Amerindian Act.

This project titled, “Securing and enhancing Indigenous land tenure in Guyana,” is the beneficiary of a USD$1.6 million grant from the International Land and Forest Tenure Facility and runs from July 2019 to July 2021.

In a joint press statement, the organization stated that the Tenure Facility, as it is better known, is an international, multi-stakeholder financial mechanism that focuses on securing land and forest rights for Indigenous Peoples and local communities following the current laws and guidelines of the country in which the project is being implemented. The APA is the project holder.

“This project which began in mid-July, has three components that focus on demarcation and titling of Indigenous lands, the revision of the Amerindian Act 2006, and various issues related to land management plans and continued land talks with the government by the Wapichan communities of southern Guyana”. the statement added.

The three components are complementary and mutually-reinforcing as it involves the implementation of land titling with Indigenous communities while working to support government in the development and implementation of policies that recognize and protect our rights as Indigenous Peoples.

To this end, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was signed between the APA and the Indigenous Peoples Affairs Ministry detailing our respective commitment and roles in the implementation of this project.

The scope for closing the gaps and learning quick lessons from past titling and demarcation efforts and facilitating an Indigenous-Led Land titling approach in collaboration with government is a key aspect of the project. Additionally, the project will be monitored by a Project Coordination Board comprising the APA, MIPA, NTC and the SRDC.

A planning and inception meeting was recently held at the at the Regency Suites Hotel where all partners discussed project objectives, components, schedules and partner responsibilities. Such meetings are expected to continue throughout the life of the project.

“We believe that this project is an important step in allowing Indigenous Peoples to take the lead in the initiatives related to land titling and related processes”, the statement added.