Re-established land titling unit to focus on demarcation of indigenous lands, extensions

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The recognition of indigenous lands has been a long-standing issue for Guyana’s indigenous people.

Cognisant of this, the original unit tasked with land titling matters has been re-established and is working on the demarcation of lands for some communities and land extensions for others.

This was highlighted by the Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Campbell-Sukhai when she was engaged on the topic by the News Room on Tuesday.

According to the minister, the unit responsible for the land titling project has been re-established, after it was dismantled by the former administration.

And now, she said that the body has started demarcating communities that have for long awaited surveys of their lands.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Pauline Sukhai, MP (Photo: DPI: August 28, 2021)

Demarcation includes marking and creating boundaries to determine which village or community has full rights to the land. And, it involves several stakeholders, including the communities and governmental agencies.

Importantly, too, the Amerindian Affairs Minister highlighted that the unit is “moving ahead with addressing extensions” as well.

Though she could not provide specifics of the works being done, she said that the unit was addressing about 30 land titling matters for Guyana’s indigenous people.

“It’s almost all we left in 2015,” she related, adding that the unit is aiming to resolve these matters by 2022.

She, however, added: “… of course land matters are matters that are not always very conclusive. You may solve one today and tomorrow there may be another.”

For context, the Amerindian Land Titling Project is facilitated through the Amerindian Act of 2006. This Act caters for both land titling- that is, giving legal ownership to Guyana’s indigenous people, and for extensions to land owned and used.

The land titling project was scheduled to commence in 2013 and end in 2016 under the auspices of the Government of Guyana and the United Nations Development Fund, with funding of $2.2 billion (US$10.7 million) provided from the Guyana REDD+ Investment Fund (GRIF). The project was extended from 2016 to 2018 and subsequently from 2019 to 2021.

According to a nine-year study on indigenous land tenure, published earlier this year, of the 68 interventions identified, 21 demarcations have been completed and 18 certificates of titles issued, while 45 investigations were completed – 32 for extensions and 13 for new villages.

And on Tuesday, the minister emphasised that land tenure security for indigenous people is crucial.

In February, a budgetary allocation of GY $630 million (or US$3 million) was made to expedite the land titling project.

More recently, President Dr. Irfaan Ali announced an ambitious new development plan, through which Guyana will receive payments to keep forests intact.

And, some 15 per cent of those payments, will be invested in Indigenous people, including in land titling efforts.

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