Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Gov’t proposes US$12M Amerindian land titling, demarcation project

GUYANA - Government has submitted a draft Project Document for the Amerindian Land Titling and Demarcation activities to be funded through the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF).

Over four years—from 2011 to 2014—it envisions US$12M being spent on the process and a budget of US$3.6M has already been outlined for 2011. A description of the project says that underlying the development of the Low Carbon Development Strategy (LCDS) is the protection of Indigenous land rights and the opening of windows of opportunities for the Amerindians, especially those that depend on forest resources as a means of livelihood. It is expected that demarcation and titling of communities will strengthen land tenure security and expansion of the asset base of Amerindian villages and allow for long term planning for their future development. “The objective of this project is to facilitate the fast-tracking of the Land Titling and Demarcation process to allow the villages to understand the boundaries of the lands they own and how much land they can exert control over; thereby enhancing and securing the position of villages to ‘opt-in’ to the REDD+ and the LCDS and allow them to better manage and develop their lands in a sustainable manner,” the document states.

According to the document, Amerindian land rights have always been a priority for the government and to date; Amerindians collectively own 13.9% of Guyana’s land mass. It says that the titling and demarcation of Amerindian lands will positively impact on Guyana’s achievement of Millennium Development Goal 1 – Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger, since the Amerindians are the poorest group of persons in Guyana. According to the Household Budget Survey (2007), 77% of Amerindians were classified as poor. It is expected that poverty would be reduced to 28% though stimulation of growth and job creation.

The document states that the land titling and demarcation process will be guided principally by the Amerindian Act, and other Acts related to land titling and on the principle of first come first serve basis. Additionally a mechanism will be developed to address ongoing disputes with the land titling and demarcation and any new disputes which may arise and a communication strategy to allow for sharing of information. Opportunities for improvements to ensure that the issuance of land titles and the demarcation process are done in a timely and efficient way will be explored and where possible supported.

Overseeing the project will be a Project Board, which is the group responsible for making by consensus, management decisions for a project when guidance is required by the Project Manager, including recommendations for UNDP/Implementing Partner approval of project plans and revisions.

“In order to ensure UNDP’s ultimate accountability, Project Board decisions should be made in accordance to standards that shall ensure management for development results, best value money, fairness, integrity, transparency and effective international competition. In case a consensus cannot be reached within the Board, final decision shall rest with the UNDP Programme Manager,” it says.

The board contains three roles: an Executive, who is an individual representing the project ownership to chair the group; Senior Supplier: individual or group representing the interests of the parties concerned which provide funding and/or technical expertise to the project. The Senior Supplier’s primary function within the Project Board is to provide guidance regarding the technical feasibility of the project; and Senior Beneficiary: individual or group of individuals representing the interests of those who will ultimately benefit from the project.

Under the Board is the project manager, who has the authority to run the project on a day-to-day basis on behalf of the project board within the constraints laid down by the Board. The Implementing partner appoints the Project Manager, who should be different from the Implementing Partner’s representative in the Project Board.

The UNDP will provide financial resources entrusted from the GRIF to the implementing partner – the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. It will also provide Oversight and Quality Assurance, to ensure that UNDP’s fiduciary, social and environmental standards are adhered to and to develop a Capacity Development plan.

The Ministry will partner with the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission to demarcate and titled lands. The project will be audited and monitored and annual reports submitted.

Guyana has signed an agreement with Norway whereby the Scandinavian country pays US$250M over five years for this country to protect its forest. The first tranche of US$30M has already been paid into the GRIF.

Source: Stabroek News

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