Amerindian land titling a ‘big challenge’ but focus on clearing backlog now- Sukhai
Amerindian land titling remains a big challenge but Amerindian Affairs Minister Pauline Sukhai says that the government is focused on clearing the substantial backlog that exists within the next two years.
Land titling is the process of offering legal recognition to lands occupied by Guyana’s indigenous people. It has, however, been a longstanding issue that a previous People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) government sought to address.
“For us at the ministry, land titling is a big challenge in the sense that it is long-delayed and we have to pick up from where we left off,” Minister Sukhai told the News Room in a recent interview.
This backlog, she explained, exists because only few land titles were granted between 2015 to 2020. Because of that, the Amerindian land titling project has been delayed.
Since returning to office in 2020, Sukhai said the government has been aiming to provide the much-needed legal recognition to indigenous communities.
Of the 68 interventions identified, the minister noted that more than 20 demarcations have been completed. Additionally, 48 certificates of titles have been issued, with three communities awaiting first-time titles.
On Monday, at the opening of this year’s National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) conference, President Dr. Irfaan Ali presented five titles and two absolute grants for land extensions to the leaders of indigenous communities.
With the existing backlog, however, Minister Sukhai said that the government has asked for a two year extension so that indigenous communities across the country can receive their land titles- be it first time titles, or extensions.
At the sidelines of the ongoing, NTC conference, Senior Councillor of Quiko in Region Nine (Upper Takutu- Upper Essequibo) Ronald Ignatius said that Quiko and the other satellite communities of Shulinab have been awaiting their extensions for several years now.
And he hoped that these needs would be speedily addressed.
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 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.