As evident from the articles published over the past few weeks, the Darwin Initiative, ‘Integrating traditional knowledge into national policy and practices’ project, has been engaging in a number of activities that are focused on traditional knowledge. The project has been raising awareness and building capacity at both the community and Government levels.
If you have been following this article’s series, you may have noticed that there are clear linkages of project findings to the actions being proposed in the draft Traditional Knowledge National Action Plan (TKNAP). As such, we now have a good baseline for Guyana to guide the implementation of a finalised and approved TKNAP.
There are two final actions being proposed that have been echoed in most of the communities in which the project has engaged. The first is that of funding to support the preservation of traditional knowledge. Hinterland communities in Guyana have been able to access funding in relation to community development initiatives. For example, the Presidential Grant, an intervention by the Government that is managed through the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs, aims to support economic and social development within Indigenous peoples’ communities. Communities may access between $500,000 and $2,000,000. Such funded projects have been focused on areas such as transportation, agriculture, and construction related to tourism.
There is a need to provide scope for communities to also develop proposals and provide access to grants that would support the interest of promoting continued use and safeguarding of traditional knowledge. Opportunities can be taken to incorporate a focus area specific to traditional knowledge into existing funding opportunities available to Village Councils.
Proposal writing and project management are also related areas in which communities may need capacity building.
Linked to funding opportunities, but urgent enough to be an action by itself, is the need for increased efforts to preserve Indigenous languages.
Indigenous peoples recognise that their language is strongly linked to their traditional culture and practices. Each Indigenous nation needs support to document and promote the teaching of their language within their communities. The Makushi and Wapishana peoples have looked at ways in which they can teach their languages in schools. Efforts to develop dictionaries and other resources have also been considered over the years with varying progress.
Consolidated efforts to assess the status of each Indigenous language and evaluate past and current activities that support preservation efforts and opportunities to replicate and/or scale up success projects need to be a priority. Efforts in this regard need to be led by the Indigenous peoples themselves.
Indigenous peoples of Guyana significantly contribute to our unique blend of culture which makes our country a unique destination. The traditional knowledge, practices and innovations of Indigenous peoples are the backbone to their way of life, and has played a part in helping to ensure that Guyana’s hinterland regions continue to be areas of natural beauty that are rich in biodiversity. It should therefore move us to consider the actions being proposed in the TKNAP that would hopefully provide collective support and progress towards respecting and safeguarding the traditional knowledge of Guyana’s Indigenous peoples.
If you would like to learn more about some of the work that has been done in communities by the project, please visit the following website: https://cobracollective.org/tag/darwin/. Finally, what do you think about a Traditional Knowledge National Action Plan for Guyana? Please share your thoughts via 592 650-6632 (WhatsApp or SMS only).
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