Agreement signed for leadership training in Amerindian communities
Stabroek News
February 27, 2004

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Some 400 village leaders in 90 Amerindian communities are to be trained in management skills in an effort to raise their level of accountability.

This will be achieved under a Government of Guyana/ Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) technical cooperation agreement signed yesterday.

The estimated cost of the project is the equivalent of US$275,000. The IDB will contribute US$250,000 and the Government of Guyana US$25,000. The IDB Board of Directors approved the agreement on January 7.

Signing on behalf of the government was Minister of Finance Saisnarine Kow-lessar, while IDB Resident Representative Sergio Varas signed on the bank's behalf. The signing took place in the boardroom of the Ministry of Finance.

The project, which is to be implemented by the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, has as its goal the strengthening of the organisational and collective-action capacity of Amerindian village councils. The project will provide management and administrative training for Amerindian community leaders and develop materials and other informational resources for the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs so that it could provide ongoing leadership training to Amerindian village governments.

The project will be guided and directed by a small project advisory committee comprising representatives from Amerindian non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the relevant government ministries, agencies and the regions. Training, which will be for a period of ten months, is scheduled to begin at the end of March or early April, according to Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Carolyn Rodrigues. She said her ministry will provide the training, which will be done in clusters. This training follows on the heels of Amerindian Toshaos being instructed on serving as Justices of the Peace and being sworn-in as Rural Constables, earlier this month.

Rodrigues said there have been times when monies could not have been accounted for in the Amerindian communities, hence the need for the training. According to the minister, the instances of unaccountability are common to the areas involving natural resources.

However, she noted that the unaccountability was not always because of corruption, but the lack of the necessary financial management skills. She said the lack of accountability could cause serious division in the communities.

Rodrigues promised the IDB that the money would be well spent and that the commitments made to the Amerindian communities would be fulfilled. She noted that the project proposal was made since 2001.

The grant will be used to develop a training curriculum and community awareness materials to be used in delivering leadership training to the village leaders. The materials will be compiled into a village-council operations manual that the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs will use for ongoing and future training purposes.

The training modules will include:

1. roles and responsibilities of office bearers;

2. voting and election procedures;

3. village planning and development, including development of village regulations and environmental guidelines;

4. community decision-making and planning;

5. relevant legal frameworks, including the Amerindian Act and the Forestry Act;

6. financial planning and management;

7. project planning and implementation; and

8. monitoring and evaluation strategies.

An IDB press release said the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs selected the communities to reflect a geographic and socio-economic balance. It said even though the main beneficiaries of the training will be village captains and councillors, other members of the community would be included where appropriate. (Johann Earle)