The National Toshaos Council should be quickly reconstituted now the Village Council elections are over
Now that the Amerindian Village Council elections are completed, I propose that the National Toshaos Council (NTC) of Guyana be quickly reconstituted and allowed to play a leading role in the execution of LCDS/GRIF projects for Indigenous development.
The Guyana/Norway Memorandum of Under-standing (MoU), which brought about the Guyana Redd-plus Investment Fund (GRIF), states that “Guyana’s LCDS Multi-Stakeholder Steering Committee (MSSC) and other arrangements to ensure systematic and transparent multi-stakeholder consultations will continue and evolve, and enable the participation of all affected and interested stakeholders at all stages of the REDD-plus/LCDS process; (and) protect the rights of indigenous peoples…”
And according to President Solheim of Norway: “We are giving the world a workable model for climate change collaboration between North and South. It’s not perfect, but it’s good, and it will be improved upon as we learn and develop together.”
The MoU also states that both countries are signatories to the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). This declaration states in Article 18 that “Indigenous peoples have the right to participate in decision-making in matters which would affect their rights, through representatives chosen by themselves in accordance with their own procedures, as well as to maintain and develop their own indigenous decision making institutions.“ It also states in Article 20 that “Indigenous peoples have the right to maintain and develop their political, economic and social systems or institutions…“
Further, the Amerindian Act of 2006, allows for the National Toshaos Council (NTC), a body corporate, among other functions to establish a secretariat and to coordinate and integrate the activities of villages on a national basis.
With the understanding that the process is still evolving, I now propose that the elected executive body of the new NTC should oversee the establishment of the secretariat and have oversight of its functions. Regional secretariats may also be established. The secretariat(s) should be staffed using meritocratic principles as a guide to get well-qualified, experienced, and motivated personnel who are results driven.
The secretariat(s) should be funded by monies made available for institutional strengthening of REDD+ enabling institutions.
This secretariat(s) should manage the Amerindian Development Fund and micro and small enterprise development projects, in collaboration with partner entities, government agencies, and stakeholders. New and appropriate projects should be developed. The solar power programme should be re-examined and improved using lessons learned in the first phase done by the government. Land titling seems to still be a problematic area. A special task force inclusive of the Amerin-dian Peoples Asso-ciation (APA) should be commissioned to move the process forward. The important factors here would be the will to bring this problem to a satisfactory conclusion and the involvement of the stakeholders.
One major risk in all of the above proposals is that we may become saddled with indigenous leaders and managers in key positions who place politics before development.
Everyone knows that we (Amerindians) do not vote en bloc for any one political party. The key leaders and managers would have to serve the entire Indigenous constituency.
It is time to get really busy with positive action. The scheduled end of the first phase of GRIF is merely 42 months away. This is not much time for the implementation of a web of projects. Yes, mistakes will be made but only a floating deadwood never makes mistakes.
However, let’s be positive and visualize a well-functioning NTC Secretariat with appropriate projects that are well-planned, organized, implemented, monitored and evaluated, and a brighter future for the indigenous peoples and all Guyanese.