Amerindian leaders pledge continued support to economic drive

Guyana Chronicle
December 2, 1999

AMERINDIAN Captains and Councillors have pledged to continue supporting the Government's economic drive, with a view to providing sustainable development projects in their communities.

This came following a call by Amerindian Affairs Minister, Mr. Vibert De Souza for further improvement in the living standards of Amerindians, a release from the Amerindian Affairs Ministry stated.

The Minister, in an address at the two-day Amerindian Captains Conference held last weekend in Region Nine, pointed out that Amerindians would continue to participate in the country's development thrust.

The release said the conference, held under the theme `Amerindian Development - the way forward', took place at the Annai Resource Centre North Savannahs, Region Nine (Upper Takatu/Upper Essequibo).

Among those in attendance were Regional Chairman, Maucir Baretto; Credit Officer (IPED), Michael James; Programme Director, Desiree Hamilton (UNDP); Devrajh Brijraj (Lands and Surveys) and Annai's District Development Officer, Lester Deokarran.

Minister De Souza explained that Amerindians have benefited from the education programme offered by the Government.

"...Look around and you will see them working in all the communities," he said, speaking on the Hinterland Scholarship Programme and the training of Community Health Workers.

He added: "This is Government's tangible contribution to eradicate poverty and provide employment for Amerindians."

Chairman of the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB), Mr. Sidney Allicock, urged the participants to continue playing a role in the development drive.

"We, as Amerindians, are fortunate to have the resources so let us develop our skills and join together in the way forward," he said.

The North Savannahs is governed by a Board - the North Rupununi District Development Board - and it comprises 12 communities. Annai Village is at the centre of operations.

The other villages which constitute the Board are Apoteri, Aranaputa, Kurupukari, Kwatamang, Massara, Rewa, Toka, Yakarinta, Wowetta and Surama.

Minister De Souza, in his presentation, noted that some $225M has been spent since 1995 to develop Amerindian communities. He said there are additional resources for development in the year 2000 and beyond.

Alluding to the improvements in potable water supply, health and sanitation, Minister De Souza explained that the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the Government has embarked on a programme of providing assistance to communities in Regions One and Nine.

He declared that next year Regions Seven and Eight will benefit from similar projects.

"Count our achievements and build on these...Our children will benefit," Minister De Souza told the 50 participants who travelled from communities located about 65 miles away from where the conference was held.

The Minister noted that development would not be achieved overnight and he urged villagers to "hold hands together and move forward towards the new millennium".

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