ExxonMobil Guyana and the Iwokrama International Centre have joined forces to provide 10 indigenous communities with cleaning and sanitization materials to help them through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Iwokrama said the hand sanitizers, liquid soap, detergent and face masks that were purchased from funding provided by ExxonMobil earlier this month, went to the villages of Fairview, Surama, Wowetta, Kwatamang, Central Annai, Rupertee, Aranaputa, Apoteri, Rewa and Crashwater.
According to Iwokrama CEO Dane Gobin, the indigenous communities are the hardest hit by COVID-19 where it is challenging to reach these remote villages. He noted that there have also been an increased number of COVID-19 cases in these areas.
“The lockdown conditions have reduced traffic significantly to the communities and so they are unable to sell their products. For many of them, this is their only way to earn a living. We recognized the need for urgent support to them and ExxonMobil fully agreed and supported this initiative,” Gobin said.
Iwokrama said it is grateful to long-time partners, the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB), for their help with the distribution of these materials to the communities.
ExxonMobil has been a major supporter of the Iwokrama Science Programme, providing more than GY $ 180 million since 2017. ExxonMobil’s additional funding of GY 50 million for 2020 comes at a critical time as the Centre is stretched by challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic and an increase in illegal mining activities prompted by rising gold prices.
The Centre plans to use the 2020 funding to enhance its monitoring activities, to explore innovative ways to look at forest management and to introduce a “sponsor-an-acre” programme – a first for Guyana.
The new programmes are in addition to the Centre’s ongoing work in the areas of climate and hydrology, biodiversity and community education, including the installation of a new Iwokrama Science Committee (ISC).
The Centre also plans outreach activities, capacity building and awareness programmes for the local communities; the production of Guyana’s “legal field guide for natural resource practitioners”; and the development of the country’s first three-dimensional community map of Fair View village.