A study on indigenous women and children has found that they do not have access to infrastructure and modern-life facilities to the same extent as their counterparts who live on the coast.
“This fact hinders their access to good, quality education, health and other social services,” the study stated. It was conducted by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs and released on Wednesday.
According to the study, almost 44 per cent of the households in the hinterland do not have electricity, as compared to 13 per cent at the national level and six per cent in urban areas.
“The qualitative assessment found that the majority of the villages would have their electric power generated by solar panels but many people reported that the panels were not working properly,” the study stated.
Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs Valerie Garrido-Lowe, acknowledged that the country’s 78,000 indigenous peoples are a vulnerable group and that past efforts to help them have not worked.
“What we had over the years are projects and programmes going into communities and many of them were not sustainable; many of them failed,” she stated.
As a result, she said indigenous people remained dependent on government and other agencies for “basic support.”
Guyana has the largest population of indigenous peoples in the Commonwealth Caribbean.
Most of them live in hinterland regions, namely Regions 1, 7, 8 and 9.