I thank the media for publishing my recent letter in relation to the Inter-American Development Bank’s (IDB) failure to implement the much anticipated Forest Carbon Partnership Facility (FCPF) REDD+ Readiness project in Guyana. Editor, I alluded in my recent letter to the sum which was budgeted for the National Toshaos’ Council (NTC) ($150,000) and the four indigenous organizations (APA, NADF GOIP and TAAMOG ($150,000)). I know this because the Amerindian Action Movement of Guyana (TAAMOG) was involved in developing the project document. The procurement plan (Annex 1- Gy- T1097) approved by the IDB in November 2013 specifies the allocation of this US$300,000.00 to the NTC and the four national indigenous organizations.
In December 2015 I had several meetings at the IDB office with the then project coordinator Mr Luis Miguel Aparicio; present were representatives of the other three NGOs and the NTC. From the IDB side Mr Miguel was accompanied by Mr Kevin Bonnet and Ms Janell Christian (now head of the Office of Climate Change). These meetings were intended to chart a way forward for activities under the NTC and NGO’s and access to the funds. However, these meetings ended up being futile as Mr Miguel failed to understand how to implement the project and was very arrogant and disrespectful to members of the Indigenous group. The whole of 2016 passed and nothing was done. Amerindians are frustrated. Every time TAAMOG visits the communities they keep asking when this FCPF project will commence. The IDB and the executing agency never sought to update the public and the Indigenous communities on the progress of the project. We are in the latter part of 2017and as I mentioned in my previous letter no tangible activities have been completed. So where is the money for the NTC and the four Indigenous organizations? Sometime in early August 2017 a delegation including a representative of the NTC and representatives of NGOs met with the IDB. The IDB team was led by the IDB’s country representative, Ms Sophie Makonnen, Mr Kevin Bonnet and two others. I raised the issue of the funds for the indigenous NGOs. To my surprise Ms Makonnen informed the group that there are no monies allocated to the NGOs; rather all the funds were for technical assistance. I was shocked at this new twist of events as I know that funds were allocated to the NGOs.
On my return home I rechecked the IDB approved procurement plan in my possession and at least US$100,000 was allocated for the NGOs which meant that TAAMOG should have gotten approximately US$30,000 to carry out consultation activities in indigenous communities. The monies were not to pay salaries or any personal benefits, but to pay for REDD+ consultation activities in the indigenous communities of Guyana. The question is, where is the money? If the IDB reallocated the funds it was done unilaterally and without consultation with the Amerindian people. This is a violation of the rights of the Indigenous peoples of Guyana and they are very concerned about it.