UNDP delegate offers peace proposal
Guyana Chronicle
October 1, 2002

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UNITED Nations Resident Representative in Guyana for more than three years, Mr. Richard Olver left here last week, at the end of his assignment, with reassuring words for Guyanese.

Speaking to the media on Thursday, he said: "First, the United Nations has indicated its readiness and willingness to lend support to national dialogue and peace building, should the parties and government so wish."

The diplomat said United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) also fully supports the continuing efforts by civil society groups and social partners, as well as the Commonwealth and looks forward to their success.

Olver said UNDP believes that, with many, many people's goodwill, what is needed is "a whole series of measures to help build trust in this society."

Offering a suggestion for effectively dealing with the peace process in this country, the envoy said simply speaking about peace and a desire for it or having a desire for a constructive way forward for Guyana is not enough.

"People have to actively reach across the divide in this country to build trust," he said, adding that the UN stands ready to help in this regard.

Alluding to the work of United Nations Association of Guyana (UNAG), Olver said the UNDP Georgetown office has been very supportive of the organisation, even though it has acted "quite independently of us".

The departing delegate said the Community Peace Councils established by UNAG are "a kind of grassroots initiative to get people talking together, to get people looking at problems together" towards positive developments at the national level.

Olver said, even though UNAG will not itself produce those positive developments, it is necessary for it to back any such.

Having finished his tour of duty here, Olver has returned to UN headquarters in New York where he will become Associate Director of United Nations Development Group.

He said his function will be to coordinate the work of all UN development agencies.

Olver, who came here from Samao at the beginning of 1999, since married a Guyanese and the couple has a 10-month old baby.

"So, I am half Guyanese and, for several good reasons, I'll keep coming back," he quipped.

He said no one has yet been nominated to succeed him here.

Earlier Thursday, Olver performed his last official task at the UNDP Brickdam, Georgetown offices, where he signed a US$150,000 agreement with Ministry of Amerindian Affairs and Amazon Caribbean Guyana Ltd (AMCAR), formalising an innovative partnership to help create jobs and sustain livelihoods in Region One (Barima/Waini).

The deal clinched involves the Government of Guyana, AMCAR and UNDP, in a project at Drum Hill, a remote location along Barima River with very slim opportunities for economic and social development.

The scheme will help Amerindians living there to cultivate heart of palm on a 200 acres spread.

A nursery to propagate will be set up in the community and 500,000 seedlings given to farmers for the creation of palm plantations.

Olver said UNDP will contribute technical oversight, evaluation and materials as well as training for about 500 Amerindian planters and farm workers.

"The entire operation, from seed propagation to planting and harvesting, through processing the product for export and marketing, will earn income for 1,000 persons, helping them to improve their families' livelihood," Olver explained.

He said the Guyana Government is making the land available and giving leadership in orchestrating the involvement of a number of stakeholder entities, including the Regional Administration, Social Impact Amelioration Programme (SIMAP), National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI) and agriculture extension workers, all of whose commitment is key to the successful implementation.

Other signatories to the deal were Minister of Amerindian Affairs, Ms. Carolyn Rodrigues and Managing Director of AMCAR, Mr. Pierre Saint Arroman.