Consultations on the LCDS in Amerindian communities left the majority of residents none the wiser
Your article ‘Indigneous leaders call for hold on LCDS, REDD+projects’ SN, March 10, has highlighted a very important point with respect to the consultation process that took place in the Amerindian communities, which is that the overwhelming majority did not understand the LCDS process. It was the general consensus among the indigenous people that the consultation process was very hurried and that the overwhelming majority left these consultations none the wiser on the LCDS. This was manifested in the fact that at later village meetings people still had no knowledge of the LCDS and were mixing it up with other consultations such as land demarcation, protected areas, etc. Further complicating matters was that the presenters were people with the technical expertise who felt as though they were making presentations to technical people rather than local indigenous people. As such many phrases and words were beyond the comprehension of the locals. This was not helped by the fact that the LCDS committee did not think it important to send the documents to the villages beforehand so that it could be discussed and the people could have been a little more informed before the actual consultation. As a local person who attended the first consultation in Annai, it was only the ‘knowledgeable’ locals such as those attached to Iwokrama or NRDDB or other such organisations who were able to meaningfully contribute to the discussion. The overwhelming majority were completely lost during the discussion, including myself.
The proposed Kanuku Mountains Protected Area, through Conservation International (CI), had detailed consultations with the Amerindian communities for more than five years before the local people finally understood and agreed in principle to the proposed project. Iwokrama had a similarly extended period of consultation. Even the Amerindian Act had an extensive consultation process. How then can a monumental project such as the LCDS breeze through the consultation process within a mere few weeks?
It seems as though the main aim of the LCDS consultation was simply to state to the donors that consultation was undertaken, rather than placing emphasis on the need for the indigenous people to fully understand the LCDS process. It might have been better if an organisation such as CI, with previous experience on the indigenous consultation process, had undertaken the LCDS consultation rather than government, whose method-ology seemed rather inept.
If the government feels that there is “malicious distortion” of the facts on the LCDS in indigenous communities, then they should send in an independent team to determine how much is actually known about the subject. They should meet with the ‘real’ locals and not those attached to organisations and hear their views.
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