Study on vulnerable Indigenous groups handed over
DPI, Guyana, Friday, September 22, 2017
The findings from a study conducted on Indigenous women and children in Guyana were today, handed over to the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) at the Umana Yana, Kingston, Georgetown.
The Ministry in collaboration with UNICEF conducted the study in twelve (12) communities in Regions One, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine and Ten, to garner a better understanding of the situation of these groups.
The need for this study was motivated by the findings of Guyana’s Situation Analysis of Children (SitAn) in 2016, which found that the health, education and socio-economic indicators, in the Indigenous population, are areas of concern.
During the handing over ceremony, Minister of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Sydney Allicock described the 30-page document as a ‘success story’, as it is the first of such to be conducted in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Minister Allicock explained that the study will guide the ministry’s policies and programme for the Indigenous People. “This will guide us to better plan and monitor and evaluate key areas, even at the level of the ministry with regards to its projects. It will provide an opportunity to interact with other agencies and even the people who are the beneficiaries.’
UNICEF Monitoring & Evaluation Specialist, Michael Gillis, provided a summary of the findings of the study, which was conducted in three phases, involving secondary data review, fieldwork data collection, and analysis of data collected.
In the area of health, the lack of trained human resources, persons travelling long hours to access health services and a shortage of medication were the most frequent problems facing the residents in the hinterland. Diarrhoea, vomiting, the common cold, and malaria were the most prevalent illnesses. It also revealed that pregnant women were not receiving HIV tests.
As it relates to education, the findings disclosed that, for every 100 students in primary school, 88 attended secondary school, with 53 remaining in the secondary institution. There is a need for qualified teachers, especially at the primary school level and in most instances, there is no facility for disabled children.
The study also revealed that 21 percent of adolescents give birth, and sexual exploitation, and child labour, it is still prevalent in the mining areas.
Minister within the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ Affairs, Valerie Garrido-Lowe said the study revealed that despite policies and programmes being implemented by the Government, more needs to be done to bring the Indigenous population into the mainstream of national development.
She said that the report provided an opportunity for the ministry to examine its programmes and policies, and ensure that it is getting the desired results. “The Government wants to ensure that the people are getting the same opportunity as those on the coast. It’s not only providing, but ensuring they are benefiting directly”, Minister emphasised.
UNICEF Representative to Guyana and Suriname, Sylvie Fouet commended the Government for facilitating such study. “It is unique and significant since it is the first of such study in the region, in the country with the largest Indigenous settlement”, she emphasized. She said that based on the findings; there is a need for a more collective effort to organize a response to some of the issues.
The objective of the study is to inform regional and local strategies, projects and programmes aimed at the realisation of children and women’s rights, and the empowerment of indigenous women, children, and adolescence.
Notwithstanding the challenges, given the geographic layout of the hinterland regions, Minister Allicock commended UNICEF and its dedicated team, who successfully completed the study in a timely manner.
By: Synieka Thorne