US$15M project signed to tackle land issues 

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By Bibi Khatoon

Under the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF), the Sustainable Land Development and Management Project was launched on Thursday, January 18, 2018, to tackle issues relating to the management of the country’s land resources.

It was pointed out by Chair of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission (GLSC), Trevor Benn that there are in excess of 34 legislation that deals with lands in Guyana. This he said causes a lot of issues as some of the legislation conflicts.

“In recent years, Guyana experienced an expansion in land-based development across the country in forestry, agriculture and mining to name a few, on public lands. But these investments have been plagued with a number of issues including overlapping responsibilities and conflict resulting there,” he said at the signing ceremony held at State House.

According to Benn, “We suffer from a lack of comprehensive baseline information to help us to make analytical decisions and we have an absence of good monitoring practices and framework for overseeing the work that we do.”

It is expected that the project, which will run for four years, will address these issues and also help to improve the overall functioning of the Guyana Lands and Surveys Commission.

The project is being implemented through the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) which will work in close collaboration with local staff.

The contract was signed by Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, Minister of State, Joseph Harmon and FAO Country Representative, Reuben Robertson.

Robertson disclosed that the project is funded to the tune of US$15, 092, 277 of which US$14, 092, 277 is financed under the GRIF project.

At the end of four years, he said the objectives are to see “the conflicts which currently exist are addressed through the strengthening of policies, legislation and improved governance mechanisms,” the modernization of the GLSC, strengthening of partner institutions addressing land issues and strengthening the capacity of rural communities to address land degradation, restoration and management.

The Country Representative explained that the project was developed over a 14-month cycle, having been initially discussed in May 2016 with the Guyana Government which approached the agency for support.

Minister Jordan in his remarks urged that mistakes made in previous GRIF projects not be repeated and the project be completed by its deadline.

“We need to take stock of lessons learnt and ensure that slippages identified in the implementation of GRIF projects – those associated with time and costs overruns – are not repeated in this project. I want to impress upon the implementing partners of this SLM project to ensure that all deliverables are achieved within the specified timeframe and budget,” the Finance Minister said.

It was explained by Head of the Project Management office, Marlon Bristol that his office has found that all projects funded by the GRIF “experience extremely untimely assessments, reviews and evaluation.”

Therefore, he committed that these issues will be mitigated in the implementation of this project.

It is the Government’s expectation that the project will provide the required data to inform its planning processes as it relates to physical infrastructure such as roads, bridges, drains, culverts and other structures, in order to avoid disrupting the ecosystem.

Meanwhile, President David Granger in his remarks noted that the project will propel the Green State Development Strategy which demands sustainable land development and management.

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