The Wapichan People of Guyana have set up a ground-breaking system to defend their human rights and monitor their ancestral lands against harmful development.
Paris, 26 November 2015 – The Wapichan people in Guyana, South America, have received the prestigious Equator Prize from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in recognition of their prolonged efforts to legally secure their ancestral lands and conserve extensive rainforests and diverse wildlife habitats in the South Rupununi.
Where They Stand details how Wapichan people in South America use modern technologies in the struggle to secure their land rights
The Wapichan people of Guyana are using modern technology and community research to seek legal recognition of their ancestral land in the face of aggressive land-grabbing, destructive logging, and poisonous mining by illegal miners and foreign companies, finds new report by internationally acclaimed science writer Fred Pearce.
October 2015: Wapichan Village Leaders and District Toshaos Council in Guyana call on the government to halt all mining activities affecting the southern portion of their territory until land and territorial rights are secured and proper safeguards for FPIC are put in place
Mutual recognition, mutual respect and mutual benefit are among the desirable attributes of all human relationships. Indigenous peoples and other forest peoples also expect these qualities in their relationships with others – be they governments, private corporations, NGOs or other indigenous peoples’ organisations and communities. This issue of Forest Peoples Programme’s E-Newsletter reports on the state of various relationships between forest peoples and different institutions – as these are forged, tested or broken –in the course of assertions for upholding basic human rights, social justice and solidarity.
In April and May 2013 the Wapichan people of southern Guyana sent clear messages to the government that all mining and other developments must respect their customary land rights and uphold the principle of free, prior and informed consent (FPIC).
In March 2013 a delegation of six members of the Organisation of Kalin’a and Lokono peoples in Marowijne (KLIM) from Suriname travelled to the South Central and Deep South regions of Guyana to visit the Wapichan and Makushi people (united in SCPDA, the South Central Peoples Development Association) to exchange experiences and approaches related to community resource mapping and territorial management planning. The exchange visit between the Forest Peoples Programme partners demonstrated the great value and benefits of community-to-community learning. This was a long-standing wish of KLIM and SCPDA and was made possible through a grant from Siemenpuu Foundation.
The South Central People’s Development Association (SCPDA), based in Guyana, have just released their latest newsletter containing information on what the organisation has been working on, and what their plans are for the future.
After years of painstaking work and multiple community consultations, the indigenous Wapichan people of southern Guyana have set out agreements and proposals for caring for their territory in a ground-breaking plan titled Baokopa’o wa di’itinpan wadauniinao ati’o nii (Thinking together for those coming behind us).
The following article, by Maurizio Farhan-Ferrari, Coordinator of the FPP's Environmental Governance Programme, has just been published on the Landscapes Blog for People, Food and Nature:
Balancing human beings’ need for decent livelihoods against the imperative of securing our environment is, arguably, the biggest challenge facing our planet. This struggle between ‘development’ and ‘conservation’ is being played out in global policy negotiations, with the decisions of so-called policy-makers being imposed on the ground. But not everything is or should be ‘top down’. Enduring solutions also spring from the grassroots, from the ‘bottom up’.
- Completion of a community digital map of traditional use and occupation of Wapichan wiizi (territory) by Wapichan mappers and a GIS specialist.
- Community map is based on thousands of waypoints geo-referenced with satellite imagery.
- The land use map has been finalised through multiple validation meetings in Wapichan communities as well as consultations with the Makushi and Wai Wai communities to the North and South of Wapichan territory.
- Over 80 community consultations and workshops have been carried out to compile the innovative territorial plan titled Thinking Together for those Coming Behind Us.
- The land use plan includes proposals to establish a Wapichan Conserved Forest and contains dozens of inter-community agreements on actions to secure land rights, promote sustainable use of resources and enable self-determined community development.
- Participants at the Wapichan map and plan launch event in Georgetown, Guyana, praised the work as a potential model for other indigenous peoples in Guyana, and throughout the world.
Georgetown, 7 February: The indigenous Wapichan people of Guyana, South America, will make public today a locally-made digital map of their traditional territory alongside a ground-breaking community proposal to care for 1.4 million ha of pristine rainforest for the benefit of their communities and the world. The territory’s rich variety of rainforests, mountains, wetlands, savannah grasslands and tropical woodlands are the homeland of 20 communities, who make a living from small-scale farming, hunting, fishing and gathering, which they have practised over the whole area for generations. The same area, located in the South Rupununi District, south-west Guyana, has an outstanding abundance of wildlife, including endangered species such as giant river otters, jaguars, and rare bush dogs as well as endemic species of fish and birds, like the Rio Branco Antbird.
The grassroots proposal comes at a crucial time because the entire Wapichan territory in Guyana, like many other parts of the Amazon basin and Guiana Shield, is threatened by mega road and dam projects as well as external plans for logging, mining and agribusiness development. In common with many indigenous peoples across Guyana and South America, the communities are vulnerable to land grabs and marginalisation because they lack secure legal title over much of their traditional lands.
Synthesis Paper - Customary sustainable use of biodiversity by indigenous peoples and local communities: Examples, challenges, community initiatives and recommendations relating to CBD Article 10(c)
A Synthesis Paper based on Case Studies from Bangladesh, Cameroon, Guyana, Suriname, Venezuela, Suriname and Thailand.
Wa Wiizi - Wa Kaduzu Our territory - Our Custom Customary Use of Biological Resources and Related Traditional Practices within Wapichan Territory in Guyana - an indigenous case study
This study summarises how the Wapichan people in Guyana customarily use biological resources within their traditional territory in the South Rupununi, and explores the opportunities and challenges relating to effective implementation of article 10(c) of the CBD at the local and national level.