Our land, our life: A participatory assessment of the land tenure situation of the Indigenous peoples in Guyana. Report for Region 8
From 1995 onwards, the government of Guyana began to address undecided Amerindian claims by demarcating land in villages where titles had already been granted, granting title extensions, and grant new titles. This report outlines the findings and recommendations of a participatory assessment of land tenure security among indigenous people in present-day northwestern Guyana.
Research goals & methods
Participatory assessment surveys were conducted between 2012 and 2015 in 42 settlements in northwest Guyana, of which 29 were titled villages while 13 were untitled communities.
Conclusions & takeaways
The report focused on: (i) legal rights and tenure security, (ii) title demarcations and extensions, (iii) land conflicts, and (iv) human rights and livelihoods. The researchers found that over one-third of those surveyed did not have legal land rights, the majority of those who do have titles believe they are insufficient and did not include areas that they lived or worked in, and several communities claimed that government officials harassed them when they tried to access. Community members were not consulted during the process of titling and demarcating and the errors in demarcation and mapping have allowed miners and loggers to encroach on certain titled areas. Over 80% of communities report some form of land conflict, mainly with miners and loggers, but there are few official processes outlined to resolve disputes. Mining and logging have led to resource degradation with negative impacts on resource-based livelihoods.
The researchers also outline recommendations for governments, the National Toshaos Council, and the village council. These include granting legal titles to those that currently don’t have any, canceling mining and logging permits when they are on titled or untitled customary lands, establish processes to resolve land related conflicts, monitoring applications for titles filed by community members with officials, and creating village levels rules for free, prior and informed consent.
Atkinson, S. et al. (2018). Our land, our life: A participatory assessment of the land tenure situation of the Indigenous peoples in Guyana. Report for Region 8. Amerindian Peoples Association and Forest Peoples Programme
- Amerindian Peoples Association
- Forest Peoples Programme
- Rainforest Foundation US