25 Indigenous land titles for distribution, six given in 2023

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The Ministry of Amerindian Affairs is actively working to clear the substantial backlog in the approval and distribution of Amerindian land titles with some 25 titles to be distributed.

Subject minister Pauline Sukhai on Tuesday told reporters, during a press conference held at the ministry that six land titles were distributed last year.

This was one more than what was done in 2022 and now, the re-established Amerindian Land Titling Unit will soon notify of 23 extensions and three first time titles. Land titling is the process of offering legal recognition to lands occupied by Guyana’s indigenous people.

“In the last three years we have moved to re-establishing a functioning unit that is taking seriously the titling of lands for Amerindians and last year we titled six and 25,677 Amerindian residents across our country are land secure,” Minister Sukhai said.

The six villages that received the titles last year are Four Miles, Region One; Paramakatoi, Region Eight; Copoey Extension, Mashabo Extension, Akawini and Wakapao in Region Two.

This is significant because Guyana has a 10 per cent indigenous makeup with 16.4 per cent of the land mass based on the current census data. But the process of land titling has been a slow one. The issue, according to Sukhai is that a backlog from the previous, APNU government, has caused the lengthy process to be further dragged out. This means new applications cannot get approved because older ones are yet to undergo the process.

Minister of Amerindian Affairs Pauline Sukhai (Photo: News Room/ January 9, 2024)

“We have to go down to the ground and we have to hold consultations with various stakeholders, national institutions, commissions and we have to compile a report with findings and recommendations that will be examined at a technical level,” Minister Sukhai said.

Nevertheless, minister said in 2024 the ministry will hand over the remaining titles and 39 demarcations will be conducted.

“These are applications that are investigated already, well 18 of this 23 [extensions] are completed investigations so we are hoping that this year, we will be able to address [them], including the remaining investigations,” the minister said.

The Amerindian Land Titling process is being facilitated by the Amerindian Act of 2006 and 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). However, the project was extended from 2016 to 2018 and subsequently from 2019 to 2021 and again from 2022 to 2024.

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