Georgetown, Guyana- (July 27, 2015) Minister of Governance, Raphael Trotman, who also shares responsibility for Natural Resources and the Environment, over the weekend, met with several Toshaos and other representatives in Region 9, Upper Takutu-Upper Essequibo, where several issues, including good governance and sustainable community development were discussed and brought to the forefront.
The meeting held on Friday morning in Lethem, Region 9, saw the attendance of the Toshaos of St. Ignatius, Moco Moco, Shea, Yurupukari and Maranau, who are also representatives of the Kanuku Mountain Range Development Group (KMRDG). The team traveling with the Minister included, Advisor on Sustainable Development, Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Clayton Hall, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, Justin McKenzie and Commissioner of the Protected Areas Commission (PAC), Damien Fernandes.
Minister Trotman told the group that the meeting was an opportunity to understand first hand, the work which is being carried out by the group in the region.
He noted that his role in the Ministry of the Presidency and the department of Natural Resources and the Environment was not to disrupt any arrangement or system the villages have put in place, but rather to facilitate and aid the work which is being carried out, provided that it was sustainable and done in good faith.
Minister Trotman said that the government is willing to work with and support the systems which resemble good governance and sustainability and will seek to put an end to those which did not display those characteristics.
“Where there are good systems in place, we would like to promote and support them. We are not here to shut anything down. We must be able to continue good work where there is good work and to cease bad work where there is bad work and I will rely on your guidance to tell me what things are working and what things are not working… This is a fact finding mission,” he told the group in Lethem on Friday.
During the meeting with the KMRDG, the Minister was given an update on the various projects which had been undertaken by the group while he provided them the opportunity to raise any matters of concern they may have had.
The members of the KMRDG was made up of 21 settlements and communities and was set up as a representative body when the central boundaries and management plans for the protected Kanuku Mountain Range area was discussed and finalised. However, the members told the Minister that since then, the group has been working on their own projects, to promote sustainable development for their communities.
The Toshaos related that they were having some amount of difficulty in setting up a much needed Farine, (native Amerindian dish) factory which has the potential to bolster the communities. In addition, the challenges in combating the effects of climate change was also raised and discussed during the meeting.
Following the meeting, Minister Trotman toured the KMRDG Farm and praised the facility as an important revenue earning initiative for the communities.
Later in the day, the Minister visited the neighbouring Moco Moco Village where the now defunct Moco Moco Hydropower Project was examined. Toshao James George discussed energy generation challenges in the community and expressed his desire to see the Hydropower station operational once again.