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National Report on Indigenous Peoples and development

United Nations Development Programme, Country Office: Guyana.
Mr. Jorg Vereecke, UNDP - Associate Expert on Indigenous People
December 1994

1. The Indigenous People of Guyana: indicators and profile

Guyana, located in the northeast of South America, is a rather small multiracial and English-speaking country. The approximately 740,000 people living in the country is made up out of Amerindians (5.3 %), Blacks (30.5 %), East Indians (51.4 %), Chinese (0.2 %), White (2.1 %), and Mixed (10 %). During the last decade, popula- tion figures have been declining due to the out-migration of Guyanese for economic reasons, mainly to the United States of America.

There are 4 natural regions :

a) the flat alluvial coastal plain, where about 90 % of the population lives;

b) the hilly sand and clay belt, mainly covered by forest, which supports the main extractive industries (gold, diamond, timber);

c) the highland region;

d) the interior savannahs.

For administrative purposes, Guyana is divided into 10 regions :

Region 1 : Barima/Waini

Region 2 : Pomeroon/Supenaam

Region 3 : Essequibo Islands/West Demerata

Region 4 : Demarara/Mahaica

Region 5 : Mahaica/West Berbice

Region 6 : East Berbice/Corentyne

Region 7 : Cuyuni/Mazaruni

Region 8 : Potaro/Siparuni

Region 9 : Upper Takatu/Upper Essequibo

Region 10 : Upper Demerara/Upper Berbice

Guyana is also known as the land of many waters, because of the many rivers in the country. Most regional boundaries are following the natural features of rivers.

The name Indigenous People is an alien term for Guyanese to the extent that almost everybody, indigenous persons included, speak about the Amerindians.

Originally, the Guyana Shield counted many more tribes as in today's situation. Scientists like W. Edwards, found proof that the Amerindian occupation of Guyana goes back as far as 12,000 years. But since early colonization many peoples, among which the Maiongkongs, the Maopityans, the Drios, Tarumas, Amaripas and Pianoghottos, disappeared or assimilated with the mainstream of Guyanese society.

In today's Guyana, there still exist nine indigenous tribes living scattered all over the Country. These are the Akawaio (3,800), Arekuna (475), Arawak (15,000), Macushi (Braz. Macuxi - 7,000), Wapishanas (6,000), Patamuna (4,700), Waiwai (198), Warrau (4,700) and Carib (2,700). They belong to three different linguistic groups : the Arawakan, the Cariban and the Warrauan. There are also a few members of other tribes in Guyana (Trio, Atorad, Taruma). In most cases, these people immigrated from neighboring countries and settled in Guyana, as in the case of the Trio at Cashew Island in the vicinity of the Rio Novo.

Some linguistic different groups share common cultural and even political features, while others, although linguistically similar, have nothing in common in relation to culture, social organization and/or spiritual life.

In relation to population figures, the statistical situation of Guyana does not provide us with accurate data on the Indigenous Population to give an analysis on the living conditions in the interior of Guyana. The most is an ongoing assessment of the situation. Data are incomplete because the results of the last population census have not yet been completed.

Except for excluding factors as dwelling-behavior of Amerindians and communication difficulties in surveys, there have also been other reasons for the informational gaps, as Forte rightfully points out : Amerindian areas may also have been subject to long-term population changes by the ravages of malaria and measles in the 1980's, the incursions of coastal and foreign mining companies on their traditional lands and the steady out-migration of the young and able-bodies in particular to explore job prospects in neighboring Suriname, Venezuela and Brazil.

The Household Income and Expenditure Survey of 1993 carried out by the Government Statistical Bureau estimated that the Amerindian population of Guyana counted 50,222 upon an overall population of 707,458 people. With other words, the Amerindian population is good for approximately 7 % of the Guyanese population.

The majority of the Amerindian communities are located in the hinterland regions, where the Amerindians form up to 90 % of the population. The most difficult regions to access are the Pakaraimas and Upper-Mazaruni. Both are part of an mountainous area that spreads out in Brazil and Venezuela. Accessibility also raises problems in terms of development in the North West District, especially the Baramita-area, and the Rupununi-savannah's. Nevertheless, a considerable amount of the communities is also located in the immediate environment of the coast, and along the many impressive rivers which runs through Guyana from north to

south. These Amerindian communities are better accessible, but still face difficulties because of the exurbanite transportation prices in the country. The transmission between coast and interior is one of belonging to the Caribbean or to South America. The interior starts actually behind Bartica, a town on the Mazaruni and Cayuni river which is busily visited by miners and loggers before and after going into the bush, the frontier.

Although being a wandering people before contact with the Western society, many small villages were formed nearby mission-post like Santa Rosa, Jawalla and Kabakaburi. On government maps one hardly finds any Amerindian villages indicated for the central regions of Guyana, although many groups live there on Crown/state lands but without holding legal title to the land they occupy.

Amerindians hold legal land titles, but many communities did not receive any land title yet, although the Amerindian Lands Commission advised for the recognition of most land titles during the decolonization years of Guyana. Actually Amerindians will claim that it was a condition of Guyanese independence lobbied for by the National Hero of Guyana's Amerindians : Steven Campbell.

At the moment more than 16 % of the national territory has the status of Amerindian land. 77 areas are designated as Amerindian land by the Amerindian Act.

Many communities currently ask for the extension of their lands, mainly because of overpopulation which puts stress on the available community resources. Many of the lands surrounding these communities are in hands of mining, cattle and forestry companies. The last years, there has been a huge increase in licenses for mining activities from 200,000 acres to 2 million. This amount represents approximately 10,000 claims. A similar evolution has taken place in relation to the timber-sector.

While the indigenous population of Guyana still practices fishing, hunting and swidden agriculture, they live mostly a sedentary life. Except for regions 7 and 8, most Amerindians live in well established villages. This has partly to do with the availability of services at certain catchment points or changes in the agricultural systems. Cash-crop agricultural production was introduced by the colonial powers but never dominated the economic life-style of the indigenous people in the country.

Despite the many social and cultural changes, the basic Amerindian life-styles stayed intact : the band-system, the role and status of the chief (titles commonly used are : Chief, Captain or Touchow) and Councilors, the Amerindian languages, their means of transport and the use of native medicines.

The standard of living in Guyana is one of the lowest in South America and the Caribbean. Only Haiti and Bolivia score lower. Guyana has been dropping gradually on the Human Development Index. Guyana's HDI rank was 89 (HDI of 0.589 - 1991), 105 (HDI of 0.541 - 1993), and in 1994 it declined to the 107th place on the ranking with a HDI-value of 0.58. Guyana's medium-term prospects are largely determined by a Structural Adjustment Programme, and although the Guyanese government adopted measures to mitigate some of the negative consequences of the recovery process particularly affecting women, children, low-income earners, and other vulnerable socio-economic groups, poverty has become a severe problem in Guyanese society. Also the hinterland-population suffered under structural adjustment because of : their small numbers, marginali-zation, economic poverty, and isolation in distant settlements in addition to the high costs of freight into interior areas. The Amerindian Population of Guyana belong to the lowest strata of the Guyanese Nation. In a recent colloquium on poverty in Guyana, Janette Forte of Amerindian Research Unit of the University of Guyana described Amerindian population as comprising the poorest and most neglected stratum of Guyanese society.

The levels of diseases, mortability, famine are primary education which results significant higher in comparison to the other non-indigenous groups of the population. Lacking flexible access to (higher) education, health care and infrastructure leads to poor human resources and leadership-qualities to lead communities and to manage the appropriate development processes. It also results in high unemployment-rates and the depopulation of communities and abandonnement of the culture by the young people who seek for em- ployment elsewhere in the country or in neighboring countries. Many young men leave their extended families to work as miners or Vaqueros far away from home. Even in the Pomeroon area, Amerindian men go to the Mazaruni-district in search of employment in the mining or forestry sectors. The elderly/ill-bodied and the women stay behind to take care of the farms and the children.

In the hinterland areas, access to health services is extremely limited. Official infant mortality rates are higher than the nations average of 53/1000 live birth averaging 57-60/1000 live births. Indications are that the infant and child mortality rate might be higher since many deliveries in remote areas are done traditionally outside the formal health system. Immunizations coverage reaches a desegregated low in Region 8 with BCG 33.4 %, OPV 53.5 %, DPT 20.4 % and measles 14.3 % . While the immunization programme at the coast is considered to be very successful, immuni- zation only reaches about 25 % of the children in the interior locations.

High endemicity of malaria in the rural and hinterland regions have a heavy toll of morbidity particularly on child and maternal malnutrition in the remote regions by far exceeds the national average in under-five children and that low birth weight of children is significant higher. As Forte indicates, malaria is a severe problem in Guyana : Since the early-80's, the recrudes- cence of malaria has been limited to the interior regions, precisely those areas where Amerindians live. The figures would have probably led to the declaration of a state of national emergency if they represented rates of infection of the coastal populations. Only a minority of cases occur on the coast, and this is attributed to the fact that the main carrier, the aedes negypti mosquito, does not breed on the coast. Most of the settled populations of the interior are Amerindians who then have borne the onslaught of this epidemic. In 1990, malaria seemed to be on the wane with a national total of 22,000 cases recorded. By the end of 1991, with the Dutch NGO, Medicins Sans Frontiers, winding up its anti-malaria programme, the total jumped to 42,000. Concentrated at first in the Rupununi, which accounted for 77 % of cases diagnosed in 1982, malaria moved north and north-west until all Amerindian areas were affected. In 1992 the North West (Region 1) was recorded as having an incidence of 710.6 persons infected out of every 1,000 persons in the area. This can be compared with an incidence of 58,6 out of every 1,000 in 1984. At the moment, several observes have reported that the Waiwai, living in the very remote southern parts of Guyana, are struck by malaria. For this very traditional living people malaria comes jointly with new invasions of miners in the Rio Novo area (Brazil). There is a similar picture between the situation of the Indigenous people in Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana's interior. Recently, the Yanomami were struck by malaria and invasions of miners in their home-lands. Tuberculosis screening does hardly take place in the interior, and consequently, this disease has won ground again in combination with the expansion of malaria. Other diseases which occur often in Amerindian communities are : diarrhoeal-related diseases, worm-infestations, snakebites, and colds. AIDS, drugs and violence are possibly becoming a threat for the future.

Generally, and despite the efforts of the government, an efficient and effective health network in terms of communication, distribu- tion, and prevention is lacking. Not having adequately trained medical personnel, drug-supply and health infrastructure puts severe constraints upon effective health care in the interior.

Attendance rate at primary schools have been reported at a lowest of 50 % in Amerindian areas. Shortage of trained teachers, inadequate basic supplies, long distances from multigrade schools, and indifferent commitment from families regarding the education of their children in poor classroom conditions have negatively affected progress towards universal education in these areas.

Many Amerindian communities are dependent on the remittances from migrant labor whereby men leave their families for work in mining and logging for long periods of time. A major reason for this is the weak nature of subsistence food production in many parts of the interior and the low purchasing power of the majority of Amerindian families. A serious outcome of this situation is the phenomena of a rise in the number of female-headed households and the implications for stability of the family unit, the neglect of children and excessive burden on women.

Lacking the human resources and the experience in community development resulted in the creation of a culture of poverty and dependence. Most Amerindians are poor, but over time they also became very dependant of hand-outs of the non-amerindian society.

Because of lacking the power-channels, the experience with projects and the suitable human resources (education, leadership, training, etc.), they were always passive beneficiaries in development projects. Once projects were finished and the implementors left the area, projects detoriated fast, resulting again in low levels of health-care, education, agricultural production, food-security, etc.

Agricultural production is the backbone for Amerindian livelihood, as it is for so many people in Guyana. For the Amerindians it also reflects their dependence on the land, a relationship dating back hundreds of years. A long time before the ancestors of the current Guyanese population entered the country, the Amerindians already lived from the country's natural resources. Exactly because of the fact that Amerindian villages are often located in remote areas, which accelerates transportation and communication costs, food-production at the local level has its direct effects on the diet and health of the people living in these parts of the country. Despite the many years of being involved in agricultural diffe- rentiation and production, outputs are rather low.

Cassava is the staple food, but also yams, fruits, and cash-crops are grown. While the men clear and plant the fields, the women and children are responsible for the maintenance.

Often Amerindian communities have to rely for long periods upon their main crop cassava of which they make the cassava bread and farine. Also their traditional drinks, Parakari and Parawiri, are made of the cassava. The food-security of Amerindian communities has become under pressure, because of the exhaustion of the natural resources in their environment. The land distribution and structural adjustment have an influence upon this situation. While many Amerindian communities are asking to get recognized land titles or request for land-extensions, the Government sees itself obliged to make more land available for forestry, mining and other national economic activities. As a result of the integrationist policy during the colonial and post-colonial era, Guyana's Indigenous peoples became increasingly dependent upon coastal staple foods, and have reached a situation know that they have to rely upon them because population pressures led to a situation of over-exploitation of the natural resources on Amerindian lands. Fish and meat is not longer available all year around. In some areas, this explains for instance the resistance of some communities to conservation parks. In the Rupununi for instance, many Amerindians farm in the Kanuka mountains because most of the Savannah's are leased to the Rupununi Development Company for cattle raising purposes. When the European Community launched a biodiversity protection program for this mountain range, many farmers were afraid to loose the last farming lands and extension-base they have left.




Lokono (Arawak):




Most of the villages are isolated and located along the banks of the many rivers in the region. This area is dense rainforest and accessible by airplane or boat.

There are 34 communities or sub-commmunities in the 3 sub-regions : Mabaruma sub-region, Matarkai sub-region, and Moruka sub-region.



logging for coastal and multi-national sawmillers;

manicole palm harvesting for AMCAR;

gold-mining on the Barama and Barima Rivers.

household-level : subsistence farming; craft-production.

Access to natural resources :

*water : shallow water holes, rivers and creeks

*land : most of the land in this region is licensed to the Barama Company and AMCAR.

Level of integration:

moderate to low (Baramita area)

Most current health problems : * malaria;

* diarrhoea;

* worm-infestation;

* malnutrition.



Lokono (Arawak) :



Most of the villages are isolated and located along the banks of the many rivers in the region. This area consists of dense rainforest and accessible by airplane or boat.

There are 3 groups of Amerindian villages and settlements in this administrative region :

* the Amerindian villages along the mid- and upriver Pomeroon and its tributaries, nl. Kabakaburi,

St. Monica's and Akawini;

* the villages along the Wakapao River;

* the Lake District inland of the Essequibo Coast and the Supenaam River.


cash-activities : logging for coastal sawmils, gold- mining deeper in the interior, ibid for gold-mining (Upper Supenaam and Berbice rivers);

household-level : subsistence farming, handi

Access to natural resources:

*water : rivers and creeks

*land : most communities in this region possess recognized land titles.

*forest : The forests in this region have been exploited heavily. Consequently, logging activities shifted more deeper in the interior locations. Certain tree-species (Ite-palm) have been overexploited due to craft-activities.

*minerals : quarring (St. Monica's)

Level of integration:

The younger generations totally lost their knowledge about their traditional language, except for some of the Carib communities on the Upper-Pomeroon.

Most current health problems:

* Diarrhoeal-related diseases;

* worm-infestation;

* common cold;

* scabies.

Level of malnutrition among children:

mild-moderate category

Government services:

All communities involved have health centres and school-accommodation. Reporting and training levels can be improved.

Organizational level of communities:

The formal organizations in these communities are legio. Except for the village council there are several local, religious, parti-political and NGO groupings. The latter are often set-up as a result of a project.



Lokono (Arawak) : 403 persons (1993), mainly between 1 and 50 years old.


Approximately 70 miles from Georgetown the villages Santa and Aratak are located in a creek on the Demerara River. These villages are easily accessi- ble.


Farming, handicraft and employment in town. Employment on reservation is extremely low (-10 % of the men work on the reservation). Santa Mission has been very popular for Ecotourism, but the control of the local resort (Timberhead) does only involve the Amerindians indirectly.

Access to natural resources:

*water : creek

*land : Amerindian area of 64 square miles (reservation-status)

*forest : the forests in this region have been heavily exploited.

Level of integration:


Most current health problems:

* Diarrhoeal-related diseases;

* worm-infestation;

* ring-worm;

* common cold;

* fever.

Level of malnutrition among children:

mild-moderate category

Government services:

All communities involved have health centres and school-accommodation. Reporting and training levels can be improved.

Organizational level of communities:

Except for the village council there are several local, religious, parti- political and NGO groupings.



Lokono (Arawak) : 900 persons (1993)


Pakuri/St. Cuthbert's Mission is located 60 miles up the Mahaica River. This area is part of the Savannah belt that stretches out behind the alluvial coastal plain. Via de Linden-highway it is approxi- mately 100 miles from Georgetown to the village.

It is easily accessible by 4X4-vehicle, except in the rainy season when the hole area floods.


Farming, handicraft and employment in town. Employment on reservation is low.

Access to natural resources:

*water : creek

*land : Amerindian area (reservation-status)

*forest: The forests in this region have been heavily exploited, especially for Wallaba and other commercial timbers.

Level of integration:


Most current health problems:

* Diarrhoeal-related diseases;

* worm-infestation;

* ring-worm;

* common cold;

* fever;

* scabies.

Level of malnutrition among children:

mild-moderate category

Government services:

The community involved has a health center and school-accommodation.

Trained teachers are available.

One of the teachers has followed higher education in Canada on the Saskatchewan Indian Federated College.

Organizational level of communities:

Ibid region before.



predominantly Lokono (Arawak) : 650 persons (1993)


90 miles on the Mahaica River, the community of Moraikobai/St. Francis Mission and its sub- commmunities Labadee, Kamwatta and Kamaramata are located. These villages also fall in the area which is part of the Savannah belt that stretches out behind the alluvial coastal plain.


Subsistence-farming, fishing, hunting, employment in logging business, cash crops like peanuts and pineapple, employment at Omai Gold Mining Company. Also handicraft production is a part of the local economy.

Access of natural resources:

*water : Francois creek

*land : Amerindian area (reservation-status)

*forest : the forests in this regions have been heavily exploited, especially for Wallaba and other commercial timbers.

Level of integration:


Most current health problems:

* Diarrhoeal-related diseases;

* worm-infestation;

* common cold;

* scabies.

Level of malnutrition among children:

mild-moderate category

Government services : All communities involved have health centres and school-accommodation. Reporting and training levels can be improved.

Organizational level of communities:

Except for the village council there are several local, religious, parti- political and NGO grou- pings.



Predominantly Lokono (Arawak) : 1,200 persons (1993)


Orealla and Siparuta are some 60 miles up the Corentyne River located. The Corentyne River forms the natural boundary between Guyana and Suriname.


Subsistence-farming, fishing, hunting, employment in logging business.

Access to natural resources:

*water : river and creeks

*land : Amerindian area (reservation-status)

*forest : the forests in this region are all licensed to coastal timber-cooperations.

Level of integration:


Most current health problems:

* Diarrhoeal-related diseases;

Level of malnutrition among children:

mild-moderate category

Government services:

All communities involved have health centres and school-accommodation, but communication with Georgetown is very difficult.

Organizational level of communities : Except for the village council there is a Community Development Council.



Carib, Akawaio (4,500), Arekuna

Population and access to water

name settlementNo householdspopulat.water
Kaikan 40 234 R,C
Paruima 99 532 R
Waramadong 80 584 R,C
Kamarang/Warawata 87 490 R
Kako 65 449 R
Quebanang 31 155 R
Jawalla 101 666 R,C
Phillipai --- 483 R,C
Klaimalu --- 185 R,C
Amokokopai --- 142 R,C
Emoikeng --- 30 R
Ataro Valley --- 141 R,C
Chinawieng --- 250 C
Kambaru 18 118 R


Subsistence-farming (no availability of tools), fishing, hunting, employment in logging and mining business, balata was a very industry in the past. Cost of living in this areas is extremely high (due to high freight costs), which reflects upon the availability of govern- ment officers (teachers, health workers, nursers, etc.). Most government employees do not earn enough to stay long in this area. The mining activities have affected most aspects of life in Region 7.

This situation has also affected the Amerindian population. Many men are employed in the mining business, often at times that they should take care for their farms. The burden on the women is extra heavy, and not often the Amerindian families have to supplement their diets with coastal staple-foods (flour, rice, etc.) which are extra-expensive.

*water : river (R) and creeks (C)

Rivers and creeks are highly polluted by dredge and other mining operations. Fish and game are becoming scarce. The local population is convinced that spawning grounds were destroyed by mining activities, while on the other hands fish and game-stocks have been affected by population-pressures too.

*land : Amerindian areas (reservation-status) granted in 1991. The situation is very similar to the situation of the Yanomami a few years ago. The government grant them small islands of land connected with each other by Crown/State lands, which were often licensed out to dredging and mining cooperations. The response of most Amerindian communities in this area has been similar to that of the CCPY in Roraima, Brazil. The wish that the Government grants them one contiguous land-base.

*forest : Timber-cooperations are limited.

Environment : highland area - dense forest

Level of integration:

low to moderate (all children still speak their traditional language, but most people are integrated in the cash economy.

Most current health problems:

* Diarrhoeal-related diseases;

* malnutrition;

* spread of HIV/AIDS;

* dental problems;

* Malaria

* gastroenteritis;

* bronchi-pneumonia

Level of malnutrition among children:

mild-moderate category

Government services:

All communities involved have health centres and school-accommodation, but communication with Georgetown is very difficult.

Organizational level of communities : Except for the village council there are Community Development Councils and religious groupings.



Akawaio, Patomona


This region is divided in 2 sub-regions.

The Patamona villages in the deep Pakaraimas- mountains and along the Ireng river. In sub-region we find small Amerindian villages around mining towns as Mahdia and Tumatumari on lands which were traditionally occupied by Patamona and Akawaio.

name settlement No households populat. water
Mahdia/Campbelltown * ---/35 2500/188 C,RW
Kaburi --- --- ---
Tumatumari --- 250 R,C
Maicobi --- 75 R
Tusenen --- 126 R,C,S
Taruka 16 90 R,S
Kurukubaru --- 628 S,C
Monkey Mountain --- 385 C
Paramakatoi --- 1874 S,C
Bamboo Creek --- 220 C
Maikwak --- 400 S,C
Kato --- 300 S,C
Kopinang --- 562 R
Orinduik --- 150 R
Itabac --- --- ---
Waipa --- 175 R
Kaibarupai --- 380 R
Kamana --- 154 R

* The town of Mahdia is mainly comprised of descendants of the West Caribbean islands, while only Campbelltown is of Amerindian descent.


Subsistence-farming (no availability of tools), fishing, hunting, employment in mining business. The cost of living is also in this area very high. Consequently, the same observations can be made as in the case of Region 7.

The village of Maicobi is already for years the main producer of legumes for the other villages in the area, including Linden.

Access of natural resources:

*water : river (R) and creeks (C)

*land : Campbelltown does not have title to its land. While the Amerindian Lands Commission recommended that title should be given to a section of land linking Campbelltown with Kangaruma, this was never implemented by the Guyanese administration. Most of the lands are licensed to Golden Star, a foreign financed mineral prospecting company.

*forest : Timber-cooperations are limited.


highland area - dense forest

Many rivers and creeks are polluted by mining activities. Omai Gold Mines LTD. is active in this region and has been held responsible by NGO's of disappearing game and fishing grounds, because of high cyanide levels in the environment.

Level of integration:

low, except for the following village :


Most current health problems:

* lacking safe water supply;

* malnutrition;

* spread of HIV/AIDS;

* fever,

* Malaria

* gastroenteritis;

* diarrhoea;

* parasites;

* hypertension;

* lung-diseases;

Level of malnutrition among children:

moderate-high category

(especially the following villages : Taruka, Paramakatoi (Beri),

Government services:

Mahdia and Paramakatoi function as catchment areas and many of the villages, sometimes miles away from Mahdia and Paramakatoi, depend on the public services and infrastructure there.

Secondary School : Paramakatoi,

Primary School : Mahdia, Tusenen, Taruka, Kurukubaru, Monkey Mountain, Paramakatoi, Bamboo Creek, Kato, Kopinang, Kamana, Orinduik, Itabac, Waipa.

Nursery School : Mahdia, Paramakatoi, Bamboo Creek, Orinduik.

Hospital : NIL

Health Center : Mahdia, Tusenen (unused), Kurukubaru (unequipped), Monkey Mountain (unused), Paramakatoi, Kato, Kopinang.

Police station : Mahdia

Airstrip : Mahdia, Tusenen, Taruka*, Monkey Mountain, Maikwak, Kato, Kopinang, Kamana*, Orinduik.

(* : airstrip only accessible for light type of airplanes - Cessna)

Organizational level of communities:

Except for the village council there are Agricultural Development Groups and religious organizations active in the region.

All communities involved have health centres and school-accommodation, but communication with George- town is very difficult.



Macushi, Wapishana and Waiwai.


This region is divided in 3 geographical area's : northern Savannah's, South-Central and Deep-South. The total Amerindian population of the Region is approximately 16,000 living in 33 settlements. The Makushi in the north and central savannahs, the Wapishana in the south savannahs and the Waiwai in the headwaters of the Essequibo River at Gunn's Trip.

name settlement No households populat. water
Annai 132 787 W,S
Apoteri 57 342 C,R
Aranaputa 70 366 W
Massara 37 215 W
Rewa 22 157 R,C
Surama 20 135 W
Toka 24 155 W,R,S,C
Wowetta 30 188 W
Yakarinta 75 544 W
Kumu 39 2,687 W,C,R
Moco 54 350 W,C,R
Nappi 120 699 W,C,R
Parikwaranau 30 152 W,C,R
Parishara 49 271 W,C,R
St. Ignatius 69 459 C,R
Karasabai 121 970 W
Tiger Pond 99 542 C,R,S
Tipuri 84 542 C,R
Yurung Paru 35 234 S
Katoonarib 62 276 W
Potarinau 165 676 W,R,C
Rupunau 50 244 W,C,R
Sand Creek 137 771 W,C,R
Sawariwau 120 525 W,C,R,P
Shulinab 83 545 W,P
Achiwuib 65 544 W
Aishalton 247 1,142 W,C,R,PS
Awariwaunau 100 535 W
Karaudarnawau 172 965 W,C,R
Maruranau 122 675 W,C,R
Shea 64 367 W,C,R,P
Gunn's 33 168 C,R


Subsistence-farming (no availability of tools), fishing, hunting, transportation is the main problem in this region. Motorized transportation is tremendous expensive for the local population, so mostly they travel on foot or on bulls or horses. Agriculture is very important and the main crop is the Cassava from which farine, tapioca and fermented drinks like parawari are made. The role of the women is very important in these communities, although the men have the ultimate representative function. Many women are the single supporters of the family. Cash flows in the Rupununi are minimal by the lack of markets for agricultural and craft products. This is one of the main causes for poor nutritional levels, absenteeism at schools and a considerable degree of poverty which prevails in many communities in the Rupununi as a whole.

Access to natural resources:

*water : river (R) and creeks (C)

*land : Campbelltown does not have title to its land. While the Amerindian Lands Commission recommended that title should be given to a section of lend linking Campbelltown with Kangaruma, this was never implemented by the Guyanese administration. Most of the lands are licensed to Golden Star, a foreign financed mineral prospecting company.

*forest : Timber-cooperations are limited.


highland area - dense forest

Many rivers and creeks are polluted by mining activities. Omai Gold Mines LTD. is active in this region and has been held responsible by NGO's of disappearing game and fishing grounds, because of high cyanide levels in the environment.

Level of integration:


Most current health problems:

* lacking safe water supply;

* malnutrition;

* spread of HIV/AIDS;

* fever,

* Malaria

* diarrhoea;

* sore eyes;

Level of malnutrition among children:


Government services:

There is a lack of easy access to educational facilities in the region. Although that most communities are equipped with a primary school, access to nursery, secondary, and higher education opposes the local population with many problems in terms of transportation and finance.

Almost all educational and health facili- ties lack manpower, training and equipment (schoolbooks, drugs, etc.).

Airstrip : Lethem, Gunn's trip, Annai

Organizational level of communities : Except for the village council there are Agricultural Development Groups and Amerindian

Organizations as the Rupununi Weavers Asso- ciation (supported by UNDP) and the South Central Indigenous Peoples Asso- ciation.



predominantly Lokono (Arawak) and Akawato

The A.R.U. divided the population into 2 territorial zones, nl. the Demarara River Amerindians and the Berbice River Amerindians.

About the indigenous communities living in the first area, not many data exist. Only on the community of Great Falls research has been done and briefly, the following is relevant for the purpose of this report.

On the banks of the Berbice River from New Amsterdam till Ituni, there are approximately 10,000 people living in about 20 villages.

For years these people have been complaining of neglect on behalf of the Region 10 administration


Subsistence-farming, fishing, hunting, employment in logging business.

In the Wiruni River area the Amerindian also grow hill rice, a product which could be marketed abroad and in Guyana.

Forte also reported that the cost of this area is very high, which is actually the case in many other areas in Guyana (Pakaraimas and Rupununi), because distribution is controlled by hucksters.

Two large bauxite mining companies are active in this region, nl. Reynolds and Guymine. But as in other cases, it has been reported that also here the local population does not really benefit of these operations. Transportation and communication is a severe problem.

Access to natural resources:

*water : river and creeks

*land : Most communities do not hold legal land-titles.

*forest : exploitation of commercial species of trees.

Level of integration : low to moderate

Most current health problems:

* Diarrhoeal-related diseases;

* malaria

* fever

* colts

Level of malnutrition among children:

high-moderate category

Government services:

government services in this region are poor.

Organizational level of communities:

village council


With the declining economical situation during the lost decade, Guyana could not longer upheld its services for its aboriginal population.

Instead, local infrastructure, health and educational facilities degraded rapidly. Communication and transportation facilities waited the same faith. Indigenous communities could only rely upon each other to survive, which they did successfully and adequately. To the extend that integration took place, the relationship between the State and the local Amerindian communities and leadership-structures became under pressure. Amerindian leaders questioned the Nation's Amerindian policy and consequently, the Amerindian Act, increasingly. The Guyana Human Rights Commission and some Amerindian organizations question the government regularly in relation to its land and license policy for the interior.

Although that improvements are still possible, a change in relation to inputs to promote development on a participatory basis in Amerindian areas is certainly observable. Especially when it is about projects promoted by the Government in combination with international agencies. Without question, since the Earth Summit and the International Year of Indigenous Peoples a learning process

is taking place. On the other hand we should not give full credit to the international events mentioned above. Also because of internal reasons, the political establishment of Guyana supports the idea of national development along grass roots processes and participatory inputs of civil society strongly. The Government has undertaken special positive-discriminatory steps with the appointment of a focal point. The Minister of Amerindian Affairs resorts under the Minister of Public Works, Regional Development and Communications. In close collaboration with FUTURES FUND and the Government of Guyana, the Amerindian Research Unit organized the Amirang-conference. This 4-day work-shop for Amerindian leaders from all over the country meant to open discussions about the Amerindian needs and expectations with the government in terms of policy-making and sharing of responsibilities. This objective was met and as a result a Committee of Amerindian representatives was set up to guarantee a follow up of Amirang. Because of the severe budgetary restrictions, the government has lobbied for more resources for development in Amerindian areas. The current programmed and projects started in the interior based upon participatory inputs are the following :

FUTURES FUND, which came in existence through an agreement with CIDA, completed approximately 300 community-based projects, of which 25 % are located in Amerindian areas and communities.

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation and Agriculture (abbreviated as IICA) funded agricultural-oriented projects in Amerindian communities, for instance at Sint-Francis/Moraikobai. IICA gave assistance to the Guyanese Organisation for Indigenous People to strengthen their secretarial capacity and to support the development of Amerindian communities in Guyana.

In co-operation with Futures, IICA is getting an Agro-forestry and Community Development programme in Region 2 on stream. They have a local working-group in which the 9 communities of Region 2 are represented, called the Region 2 Community Counsel. This counsel already met several times since their first encountrance at Mainstay in April 1993. The general objective of IICA's approach is to get a community rooted (sustainable) development process by cultivating the capacity to identify, formulate, manage, monitor and evaluate sustainable community development activities and projects, especially in the agricultural sector. This program is meant to be implemented in close collaboration with other agencies like UNDP, SIMAP, GOIP, ARU, and others.

IICA's objective is to get detailed community profiles of the Amerindian villages in Region 2 and 9, and to use these for further project planning purposes.

FUTURES took the initiative for a Region 1 Working Group, the Mabaruma School Feeding Programme, together with WFP, IICA, SIMAP, ARU and the Regional Administration.

SIMAP is preparing projects under the Amerindian Pilot Programme in several Amerindian communities in Regions 1, 2, 7, 8, and 9. At the moment, the first 10 projects are identified and can start every moment. Several NGO's and other organizations like GOIP, ARU, Red Threat are involved in the preparation of these projects to empower them in the skills of project-identification, preparation and implementation.

In close collaboration with the WORLD FOOD PROGRAMME, SIMAP started a Food-for Work-programme. This programme supports indigenous communities in their self help-activities by providing certain food-items as a stimulant for community upgrading activities. Food supplies are not considered to be payments for work but additional support.

Earlier this year UNICEF started in close collaboration with UNDP and the Government of Guyana an Amazon Programme . This programme focuses the amelioration of the living condition of women and children through an integrative process with the community(ies) involved. A working-group has been created to work out the project-activities to be implemented under this programme. A working group with representatives of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, CEMCO, CBR, GOIP, SIMAP, PAHO, GAHEF and UNICEF take part has been set up to follow the coordination and monitoring of the initiative.

The programme will include 4 major pillars which will function as the corner-stones of the Amazon Programme, nl. Education, Health, Environment/Sanitation, and finally Income-generation.

The UNDP is also involved in several projects in individual Amerindian projects, like Chinowieng and Karrau Creek. Important to mention is also the Partners in Development Programme, which main objectives are to

(a) support community-based self-help initiatives;

(b) strengthen the institutional capacity of local NGO's and community groups to respond effectively to critical development needs;

(c) promote networking with a view to strengthening dialogue among NGO's, governments and UNDP.

The Rupununi Weavers Project in the South-central part of the Rupununi is one of the PDP-projects in which UNDP is involved.

This project is of a productive and emancipating nature. The weavers produce high-quality hammocks which are meant to be sold on the international market.

UNDP also attached an Associate Expert on Indigenous People to SIMAP and the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs to assist in Indigenous Development Initiatives. With assistance of UNDP a framework was set up for Sectorial Meetings on Integrated Community Development and Amerindian Affairs with a tripartite nature.

3. Opportunity Profiles :

At the Amirang conference following needs were formulated :


* Rehabilitation and extension of school-buildings, headmaster's houses and annexes;

* Upgrading the skills of teachers through training programmed;

* bilingual and cross-cultural context reflected in curriculum (Guyanese/Amerindian culture);

* adult education;


* more health huts;

* availability of drugs;

* training (generally);

* transportation for Community Health Workers;

* more CHW trained as microscopist;

* radio-communication;

* accelerated participation in Mid-wife programme;

* upgrading knowledge health-workers;


* income generating activities;

* acoushi-ants are a continuous pest;

* need for new tools;

* food-security;

* technical assistance necessary;

* need for more village projects based upon the capacities within the community and training;


* need for chain-saws to produce boards;


* recognition of land-titles

* extension of land

* pollution of rivers by mining activities

* requests for saw mil and forestry- projects

* use of Missile Dredging Method for mining is a severe problem and very devastating for the environment

From the Amirang conference and ongoing monitoring efforts of Amerindian community needs, we could say that the following problems are still inadequately addressed :

- malnutrition;

- unemployment;

- high marketing costs and consequently reduced competitiveness;

- low levels of income;

- no access to capital for investment opportunities;

- high incidence of malaria and other preventable diseases;

- high costs of imported goods;

- out migration of youth;

- loss of language, traditional practices and pride in culture;

- loss of self-control over the community development process.

During a problem-identification work-shop at Annai, a predominantly Macushi community in the northern savannah's, the representatives of the community indicated as one of their important problems the fact that the community is to poor to assist itself in a sustaina- ble way. The only item they can bring in a project is labor. Without funds provided by donor-agencies, it is impossible for them to maintain the local structure, and if they have ideas how to overcome a local problem, they have to ask permission to the higher governmental levels. In many cases the initiative dies a silent death, because of different agenda's, notions of time and realities.

The same community also indicated the importance of starting working relationships with an agency on a small scale to develop their village, but in a way which enables the community to oversee the dimensions of a project and keeps it within for the community acceptable and aspired dimensions. Many communities demand to be fully involved in projects which are meant to address their problems, not only in the faze of implementation but in the very faze of conceptualization too. There were communities mostly expect an improvement of service-dimensions in terms of health and education, they clearly see immediate action possible in the areas of agriculture, productivity in general and cultural practices.

In terms of access to land and other natural resources, rights guaranteed in the Amerindian Act () the clearly expect dialogue with the appropriate authorities


Agriculture - Forestry

This is mostly the sector identified immediately by Amerindian communities to undertake action to enhance the productivity. Because of the importance of agriculture to Amerindian communities, it mostly does not require a lot of discussion to conclude on this. Deciding on which crop to grow is mostly another story. Most men will prefer a cash-crop, while many women will focus upon a crop to increase the availability of food for their households. An approach which gives way to a mixed cropping method of long, middle long and short term crops relates very well with the traditional farming methods of Amerindian people. Crops as peanuts, coffee, hill-rice and fruits can be brought on the closest market, while crops like yams, pineapple, cassava, and fruits can be used to increase the food-availability of a community. An agro-forestry approach also allows to integrate traditional farm practices with modern techniques. For instance, increasing the fertility of the soil by using local nitrogen-fixing tree-species as the Leucaena and the Gliricidia. Another example is the continuous fight of Amerindian farmers against Acushi-ants. While fog-machines and poison are to expensive and dangerous tools to solve the Acoushi problem, communities can also rely upon traditional methods. Research has proven that Acoushi Ants fled for the aruarani, a plant which is also used by Amerindians for fishing purposes.

Not only has this plant a cosmological meaning for the Amerindians it has a practical-technical value for them. Regretfully, many coastal communities do not use the plant any more. For those communities which lost these experiences, an interaction\ exchange with other communities could be organized as a part of an agricultural project, which also should include further research and tree-nurseries. That there is a logic in most activities of Indigenous People has been illustrated in this field by Darrell A. Posey and Susanna B. Hecht. They studied for years the methods of farming used by the Kayapo to enhance the biodiversity and protein-resources on their land. These experiences could certainly make an useful contribution to the development of Amerindian areas without over-exploitation of the environment. The UNDP-field office at Bangalore supported in 1986 a consultation of social forestry ere the relationship Tribals and Nature has been discussed and was evaluated as inherent and symbiotic and very valuable to forestry systems.

There are certainly areas were Guyanese Amerindians can exchange information and experiences with other Indigenous Peoples from other development countries and countries in the north. The Ojibway of the northern province of Ontario (Lake District) and Manitoba started 2 productive projects which are doing very well.

One is about the production of Manomin (wild rice), the other produces artisanal made blueberry jam. Both products are brought on European markets via the European Fair Trade Movement. The projects has been so successful that at the moment, the same communities have started a forestry project. In this case the

Ojibway-indians control a sawmill and developed the necessary sustainable forestry plans. A Scandinavian company trades with them. The final product is Green Label wood, and alternative upon the depletion of the forests north and south.

The Macushi from the Annai area (Surama) are producing hill rice. This product has raised the attention of OS3. Through the involvement of the community in the Amazon programme and the Iwokrama Rainforest Programme, UNDP and the community are discussing the possibility of getting OS3 involved to develop productive projects in Amerindian communities. There are also two other areas to look into. Morakabai would like to start a forestry project in their area. The relatively large acreage of forest and savannah (approximately 52,000 acres according to the Lands Commission, but more then 100,000 acres according to the residents of the community and according to the description of the territory presented in the Lands Commission Report) is only marginally used by the local population. 75 acres are under cultivation, but many coastlanders operate in and around the reserve seeking for Wallaba and Greenheart. In return the community receives a small royalty.

Forestry constitute the principal source of income for the community. Most of the men in the productive age are engaged in this activity. Considering the potential of the forested area in the reserve, the know-how of a large part of the community and the interest for this kind of work, it is evident that the potential for development of the community lies in the sustainable exploitation of the forest. But at the moment, one can hardly speak about sustainable forestation. In many of the exploited areas, the vegetation totally changed and the quality of the trees deteriorated considerably. The community feels it is absolutely necessary to avoid these situations and to start preparing a forest-inventory for their area with the objective to make an exploitation and re-forestry plan. This can regretfully not be done without input from outside. Another community which has plans in this direction and which is in a similar situation is Orealla. Both communities are accessible and lumber can via the creek and river easily be brought to the coast.

Two Arawak communities in the coastal region, Wakapao and Moruka, produce a lot of coffee. The last few years, the farmers left the beans on the tress, because the low prices the were offered by the hustlers were not worth the effort of plucking the coffee beans.

With some assistance these communities can look into other mar- keting possibilities. For example, the price of green coffee in the Wakapao area is approximately 25 Guyana Dollars per pound, while dried coffee beans go for two times as much. Assisting the community with the construction of a coffee house to dry the beans and a boat to transport it to the market, would already make a substantial difference.

Small scale agricultural development enables the community to grow with their project, under the condition that technical assistance can be given in those areas found useful by the community itself. UNDP-Guyana has build up a considerable amount of experience in this field and already executed projects in the sector through the SIMAP-Agency or PDP.


Many Amerindians produce beautiful and useful handicraft-items. There are three kinds of handicraft : Tibisiri, Nibe and Mocru.

Tibisiri is in most cases used for fine work like baskets with fine designs, while Nibe is for the more rough items. Mocru is mostly used for the production woven chairs, tables, and even wardrobes. The Waiwai are the only group which still produces traditional items. Making handicraft is mostly done by the women, except the making of the Cassava-sift and the Matapi. The Wapishana and Macushi also produce handwoven hammocks. Also in relation to this sector, a project will have to be conscious of the daily realities of Amerindian women. Handicraft is mostly produced at times that the women has spare time. Production is irregular and unpredictable, which makes it difficult to enter the commercial circuit as a producers'group.

In Guyana an Amerindian Handicraft Association exists. This organization is meant to unite producers and to influence the prices. Regretfully this objective has not been obtained. Most internal markets are controlled by a few storehouses and hustlers. Most Amerindian communities doe not have access to the consumer markets and depend upon the price the hustlers give them. There have been several cases reported to us, that Amerindians from the Pomeroon River come to town to sell there handicraft to the storehouses and only receive 10 % of the price promised.

But there are also other problems related to handicraft production.

One is socio-cultural. While handicraft hardly pays, many girls do not learn the old ways any longer and prefer to leave village-life to join the lowest strata in the main cities. To tackle this problem some communities started collective training courses and builded a handicraft center (Kabakaburi, Waiwai, St. Cuthbert's Mission), but without access to markets it is difficult to motivate school-leavers and women in general. The community of St. Cuthberts is doing fairly well since they also produce for outside markets with the assistance of Futures Fund.

Another problem related to handicraft-production is of an environ- mental nature. At St. Cuthberts and Aratak Missions it has been reported that approximately 800 ite palm trees are cut down every month for the production of handicraft. The ite palm is becoming rare in the region, and it is becoming an urgent need to look into the situation with the objective to make the non-timber forest produce-sector sustainable.

In the handicraft sector the local UNDP-office has depleted a successful weavers project in the Rupununi. UNDP does not only provide financial support through PDP, but also provides technical assistance through uncommitted resources for aspects related to product development and replication.

Marketing & Networking

It has often been neglected to give Amerindian communities assistance in the field of project-management, accountability and especially, marketing. In all these fields, it is generally felt that long-term guidance is needed through networking with Guyanese and international NGO's to strengthen the self-reliance of Amerindian communities, while on the other hand it became more then important to look into the structural problems hindering Amerindian development. Many productive projects do not fully obtain the objectives, because these areas have been overlooked.

The facts learn us also that productive projects which neglected to look into the marketing possibilities of the produce involved, support the hustlers more than the local producers. In Guyana the situation is that the distribution in the interior is controlled by a few hustlers which set the prices. The price which the local producer received is often lower than 10 % of the product sold in Georgetown. Except of reducing the role of the hustlers by im- proving the accessibility of the markets (national and internatio- nal) for the Amerindian population, there is also a need to assist Amerindian communities in processing their produce from raw materials to half-fabricates.

In the almost unaccessible regions 7 and 8, a market for local produced food-items exists. The problem is here to bring produce from a small Amerindian village into mining areas. Because trans- portation is only possible on foot, the risk that the food spoils by the time it reaches the consumers market is rather high. Another reason is that most people neglect their farms for mining activities.

Mining Activities

The mining industry in Guyana, especially in the interior, is quite important for the GNP. Mahdia for instance has a reputation in terms of gold production. In a period of 20 years, British Guiana Consolidated Goldfields Ltd. extracted more than 7 tons of gold from the area.

While most Amerindians in Guyana are active in the mining-industry on an individual basis are as helpers of coastal miners (in the majority of the cases), the Kuna of Panama are controlling gold production and ecotourism on their territory. Because of societal and environmental reasons, the Kuna refuse to mine by using mercury or dredge-missile methods.

In Guyana this option could be explored, and although that most Amerindian communities do not hold land titles in the mining area (Pakaraimas and Upper-Mazaruni), the Mining Commission has indicated that there are no obstacles for indigenous people to apply for a license to mine in a given area as a cooperative or on a collective/community basis.


Ecotourism activities are mainly in hands of a few first-class hotels which offer their customers the possibility to visit the interior. Amerindians are pictures as curiosa which you can go and observe in their own environment. Ecotourism is Guyana has been criticized severely by the Amerindian NGO's. On the other hand, it has been identified, especially by coastal Amerindian communities, as a potential sector to elaborate on. Although tourism in Guyana is a sector which still has to be developed for the grater part, Amerindian communities could try to focus upon certain groups which do not except to much luxury while staying in the field. Possible groups are ornithologists and other nature-lovers, hunters and sport-fishers, botanical organizations, etc. Most communities interested in ecotourism understand that they need to look into possible negative effects as outcomes of an ecotourism project.

Institutional strengthening and capacity building through an integrated participatory approach

To ameliorate working conditions and dialogue, and to avoid duplication and ineffectivity and inefficiency, UNDP took the initiative in close collaboration with the Minister of Amerindian Affairs to start working on Amerindian development as an integral part of the Sectorial Meetings on Integrated Community Development.

The objectives of the meeting are described as follows :

a) strengthen, support and integrate ongoing and future development projects and programs;

b) uplifting consultation and participation at the grass-roots level;

c) support the coordination and planning capacity of the Minister of Amerindian Affairs and the Hinterland Department of the Ministry of Public Works, Regional Development and Communications;

Short term objectives of these sectorial meetings are information-sharing, inventory of community-profiles and data in the other sectors (education, health, etc.). Publishing a periodic newsletter that updates and facilitates the information-flows between the actors is also essential in this process.

At the middle term, the objectives are co-operation in terms of project and programme implementation, and sustainable community organization at the local, regional and national level.

At the first sectorial meeting held in June 1994, it was agreed that a Databank on existing projects would be developed as well as a masterplan by the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, supported by a working group of international agencies.

Both are completed and will be submitted to the sectorial meeting very soon.

Further assistance to strengthen the process of tripartite consultations and the institutional strengthening of development in Amerindian Affairs will be discussed on this meeting. UNDP has taken a leading role in this process, based upon the assumption that UNDP has a comparative advantage in this sector as illustrated in this document.


The basis for our conceptual framework and methodology should be certain set of ethical factors to start from. These ethical factors can be found in the Earth Charter, ILO-convention nr. 169 and the draft-Decalaration of the Rights of Indigenous People.

Article 7 of the ILO-Convention and the Earth Charter's Plan for Action do not only call for the (more passive) consultation of indigenous people just before the implementation phase of a project, but for participation, preferably from the very starting phase of project and programme conceptualization.

In relation to the Amazon programme in Guyana, we consider the Amerindian communities as the owners of the program and projects (as programme-activities). The original set up of this programme (before being able to visit communities) was done on an integrated and holistic approach. With other words, a meeting with several actors was organized (Governemnt, NGO's, UN and other international agencies) and we looked into the objectives and methodology of the programme from a multidisciplinary point of view.

This meeting identified 5 major pillars which will function as the corner-stones of the Amazon Programme, nm. Education, Health, Agriculture, Environment/Sanitation, and finally Income-generation. The programme also wants to co-ordinate and strengthen the activities and investments of other ongoing projects in the project-area. The Sectorial Meetings on Integrated Community Development and Amerindian Affairs are a very important tool in relation to this.

These are the reasons why we call for participation, integration and holism as methodological factors in our dealings with indigenous peoples.

The methodology of Assessment-Analysis-Action (Triple-A) on a continious basis is one of the possible methodoligies which has the flexibility necessary to coop with the many aspects influencing and changing community life. This methodology has to be community-driven. In a first stage, this methodology has to be discussed with the communities involved and it is the question if they fully accept it. But our experience is that most village-inhabitants already use this method to solve their daily problems. Only in the area of analysis (here is our conceptual framework of importance) they often ask for external inputs. We should also be fully aware of the importance to focus upon the customary systems and social patterns (power and wealth distribution, access to resources, etc.) within these communities as elements to be used in the methodology and conceptual framework. Continuous research and analysis is important. It is important to discuss these inputs with them, and to respect their priorities and suggestions. Of course, communities are not always right and make mistakes, but our approach should be suggestive and non-agressive.

In the continous process of assisting a community, we give advice and with that advice the community can strengthen its decision.

Through applying the conceptual framework (below) it is obvious that tripartite meetings will not only focus on particiaption through discussion and action at the lower levels (community, regional) but also at the national level. The Amerindian situation in Guyana is characterized by centralization in relation to almost all aspects of Amerindian life. To deal with structural problems, the government will have to be committed to the particiaptory apporach in combination with the willingness to decentralize following the principles of subsidiarity.

Even if no compromize can be obtained in all areas, the result of a conciliation-process is that the community has structured its problems in an analytical way and can start lobbying now for betterment, if necessary through networking with other NGO's and international agencies in or outside the country.

The conceptual framework can result in a brocure like the one made by the Indigenous Peoples of the Philippine Cordillera, of which I include a copy. It reflects a basket of demands and changes which are felt to deal with the immediate, underlying and structural causes of underdevelopment of the Cordillera-villages.


A possible partner to seek assistance from for supporting and strengthening commercial processes taking place in Amerindian communities in Guyana is the European Fair Trade Association. Fair wages and working conditions for workers in the Third World are at the heart of the operations of a group of organizations calling itself Alternative Trading Organizations. Responsible for an amount or turnover of about US$ 100 million they are a growing force in the market of the conscious consumer. A group of 10 such organizations rom 9 European countries have joined each other in the European Fair Trade Association (EFTA) and consist of:

* Stiftelsen Alternativ Handel, Norway;

* Artisans du Monde Fam-Import s.a.r.l., France;

* C.T.M., Italy;

* E.Z.A., Entwicklungszusammenarbeit mit der Dritten Welt, Austria;

* Gesellschaft zur Forderung der Partnershaft mit der Driten Welt, Germany;

* Oxfam-Wereldwinkels vzw, Belgium;

* Les Magasins du Monde OXFAM, Belgium;

* OS3, Import- und Informationsstelle fur Waren aus Entwicklungsgebieten, Switzerland;

* Fair Trade, Netherlands;

* Traidcraft Plc., United Kingdom.

The EFTA and its members share commently the following objectives:

1) Alternative trade, which has been described as :

* co-operation with the poor and oppressed in the Third World on the basis of justice and solidarity, aimed at improving living conditions in Third World countries, mainly by means of (promoting) trade in products from those countries;

* providing information when selling products, thus inciting people to a growing awareness of unfair international structures;

* campaigning for more just trading conditions between the countries of the Third World and the countries of domicile of the members;

* reflecting in their own structures a commitment of justice, fair employment, public accountibility and progressive working practices.

2) Exchange of information on producer groups, travels and visits, on educational material, on campaigns and other activities through regular meetings and a newsletter.

3) At the level of EFTA a task division should be achieved in relation to the trade in handicrafts. This is expected to result in more intensive contacts with producer groups and a better coordination and specialization of activities.

4) Joint product development is considered to be of great importance by the producer groups as wall as by the EFTA members themselves. This is one of the priorities of EFTA cooperation. The aim is that each EFTA member develops expertice in specific areas and shares this with others. This has reached a well advanced stage for food products. Various food products are being developed, imported, packed and distributed in Europe by one of the EFTA members, like muscovado sugar imported by OS3 from the Philippines, Manomin from the Ojibway in Canada and cocoa from Bolivia. Oxfam Wereldwinkels imports wine from Algeria, fresh fruits from various countries and is becoming an expert in nuts, etc. Gepa imports biological coffee, tea and spices from various countries.

5) Apart from joint product design projects there are various fields of cooperation and coordination. To mention some :

* Co-ordination of trips to Third World countries;

* Project Development Assistance Programme : Some EFTA members do not only assist producer groups in terms of trading, but also in the field of financial assistance, training, researches, etc.

* Socio-economic study Cooptex, India : Some EFTA members that are particularly involve in a weavers'co-operative in India are participating in a socio-economic research on this project. The research is carried out in close co-operation with the project concerned.

* The EFTA members recognize that they, as alternative trading organizations, have to observe carefully what the changes in the EC trading regime are bringing for trade with Third World countries in general and for small-scale Third World producer groups and alternative trade in particular. EFTA has found funding resources for a programme with the Centre of Import from Developing Countries and Foundation Research Multinational Enterprises to support producer groups in adapting to the changes to come.

* Joint EFTA seal or trade mark.

EFTA and its member-organizations support producers in the Third World on a daily basis to market and improve the quality of their crops and produce. The overall aim is to benefit the producer partners in developing countries. In that respect EFTA can be considered as a means of rendering services to producers groups and as a form of development assistance. EFTA is to improve the quality of fair trade and as an expression of commitment by the member-organizations to a long term partnership with producer contacts in the Third World. The latter is not necessarily limited to the southern hemisphere. Because of the bad living-conditions on most reserves for First Nations in the developed countries, they can be considered as part of the Third World reality, a situation which has rightfully been observed by the UNDP in its HDR 1993.

Superficially, EFTA-association seems to be of a North-South nature, while in terms of experience and knowledge, the flows go also South-South.

Addresses Member Institutions EFTA :
Alternativ Handel, Kampengt - 16 ph. (+47) 2 685900
P.O. Box 2802 - Toyen telex 11421 aha n
0608 Oslo 6 - Norway fax (+47) 2 685950

Artisans du Monde, Rue Vitry - 69 ph. (+33) 1 48709569
93100 - Montreuil tx. (+27) 643191f(aui)
France fax (+33) 1 48709661

C.T.M., Cadornastr. - 7-7A ph. (+39)471 285794
39100 - Bozen tx. (+39)471 282681

E.Z.A., Lengelden - 169 ph. (+43) 662 52178
5101 - Bergheim tx. (+47) 632374
Austria fax (+43) 662 52586

Gepa, Talstrasse - 20 ph. (+49) 2336 91820
5830 - Schwelm-30 tx. (+41)8239620gepad
Germany fax (+49) 2336 10966

Magasins du Rue E. Michiels - 7a ph. (+32) 2 3320110

Monde - Oxfam, 11080 - Bruxelles tx. (+46)63939oxfamb
Belgium fax (+32) 2 3321888

Oxfam - Nieuwland - 35-37 ph. (+32) 91 230161

Wereldwinkels, 9000 - Gent tx. (+46) 12947oxwwb
Belgium fax (+32) 91 250478

OS3, Byfangsstrasse - 19 ph. (+41) 32 533155

(Bernard Muller) ostfach 69 tx. (+45) 817585170
CH-2552 Orpund com ch
Switzerland fax (+41) 32 553159

Fair Trade, Beesdseweg - 5 ph. (+31) 345013744
(Ron Van Meer) Postbus 115
4100 AC Culemborg fax (+31) 345021423
The Netherlands

Traidcraft, Kingsway, Gateshead ph. (+44) 91 491 0591

Tyne & Wear, NE11ONE tx. (+51)53585traidcg
United Kingdom fax (+44) 91 482 2690

Especially in the area of handicraft potential trading-partners are the many Indigenous Peoples Supportgroups, and organizations as Greenpeace. We should be conscious about the markets that those organizations can enter and about the partnership between environmental organizations and indigenous peoples in relation to the survival of Earth's fauna and flora. This partnership promotes the sustainable use of forest products, and brought already some handicraft items and nuts on the market in Europe and the USA.

Cultural Survival 53A, Church Street
Cambridge, MA 02138

Supportgroup for Breughelstr. 31-33 ph. (+) 32-3-218.84.88

Indigenous Peoples, B-2018 Antwerpen fax (+) 230.45.40 ( Belgium

Survival International, 310 Edgware Road ph. (+) 71-723.55.35
London W2 1DY fax (+) 40.59
United Kingdom

There are also some private companies active in the sector. The Body Shop developed in close collaboration with the Kayapo Indians in Brazil a hairconditioner based upon Brazil nuts. Although this project has been criticized by organizations like Survival International it certainly can bring in certain experiences :

The Body Shop, Mr. Aram Puri ph. (+) 44-903-731500

fax (+) 726250

Mr. Johnson ph. (+) 44-71-4365681

fax (+) 6377105

In the area of Ecotourism the Cree of the Canadian north have developed considerable amount of experience. They control to a large extent ecotourism and transportation in the north.

Grand Council of 1, Place Ville Marie ph. (+)861.58.37

the Cree of Quebec, Montreal Quebec fax (+) 07.60

(Mr. Luis Eguren) Canada


see Database (DBASE I, filename : AMER.DBF)


* Amerindian Research Unit-University of Guyana, Situation Analysis of the Status of Children and Women in the Guyana Amazon, Compiled for UNICEF by the Amerindian Research Unit, 09/1993, 126 pages.

* Amerindian Research Unit-University of Guyana, The Material Culture of the Wapishana People of the South Rupununi Savannahs in 1989, Occasional Publications of the ARU, 1992, 92 pages.

* Bennett, G., The Damned : the plight of the Akawaio Indians of Guyana, Survival International Document VI, London, U.K., 12 pages

* Colchester, M., Who's who in Guyana's Forests, Report propared for the Amerindian Peoples Association, 29/10/1993, 26 pages

* Daly, V.T., The making of Guyana, 1974, Guyana, 218 pages

* Davidson, A., Endangered Peoples, Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, U.S.A., 1994, 195 pages.

* Elisabetsky, E., Folklore, Tradition, or Know-How ?, Cultural Survival Quarterly, Summer 1991, pages 9-13

* Forte, J., The Populations of Guyanese Amerindian Settlements in the 1980s, Amerindian Research Unit-University of Guyana, 1990

* Fox, D., The Indigenous Condition in Guyana, University of Guyana, June 1993, Guyana, 166 pages

* Lewis, D., Guyana to be Sarawhacked, BBC Wildlife, 01/1992, page 56

* Menezes, M.N., The Amerindians and the Europeans, Red Thread Women's Press, Georgetwon, Guyana, 1992, 71 pages

* Pearce, F., Britain provides green cover for Guyana loggers, New Scientist, 12/09/1992, page 5

* Posey, D., Preliminary Results on Soil Management Techniques of the Kayapo Indians, Resource Management in Brazil, 1993, pages : 174-188

* Sanders, A., The Powerless People, Warwick University Caribbean Studies, 1987, London, 220 pages

* Survival International, Harvest Moonshine, taking you for a ride, Survival International, 1993, 16 pages

* United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 1991, Oxford University Press, New York, 1991, 202 pages

* United Nations Development Programme, Human Development Report 1993, Oxford University Press, New York, 1993, 230 pages.

* Van Dongen, R., Eco-farming in Guyana, Capoey Women's Agricultural Group, 1994, 42 pages

* Vereecke, J., Guyana en Inheemse Volkeren : een kennismaking, Katern Vergeten Volkeren, Jaargang 3(18), Antwerpen, Belgium, 11/1993, page 9.

* Vereecke, J., De twijfel van de Groene Kapitalisten, in De Wereld Morgen, monthly magazine, 12/1992, pages 22 -24