Ryan

Ryan Benjamin

North Rupununi District Development Board
North Rupununi, Guyana

Indigenous Resilience in Future Scenarios

Field Report n°8

June 7, 2012

This is a personal account from Ryan Benjamin, COBRA Community Outreach Officer, North Rupununi District Development Board.

Project Cobra – Creative Commons

Bina Hill, May 2012 – The COBRA project held a two day workshop, on the 15th and 16th May, at the Bina Hill Institute with participants representing 13 of the communities from the North Rupununi. The workshop focused on scenarios that could potentially develop in the North Rupununi over the next 20 years as part of WP3 “Identifying future scenarios of social-ecological resilience for indigenous communities”. On the first day, participants were reintroduced to the project, especially linking the focus of the workshop to the work packages. For the rest of the day the participants used the results from a visioning workshop conducted in 2007 during the Wetlands project to answer four main questions:

  1. How has the current situation changed from 2007 to 2012?
  2. Have any visions come through?
  3. Are the visions still relevant? And are there any new visions?
  4. What are your uncertainties for the future?

At the end of the discussions, participants reported back on what they felt were the key changes in the current situation, key visions both new and old and key uncertainties.

On the second day, participants took one of their key uncertainties and used this to develop alternative futures for 2030. The participants, who had been divided into three groups of men, women and youth, each chose an issue that had direct impact on the future of the North Rupununi and developed two to three different scenarios or pathways of how these uncertainties could develop. They then presented their ideas to the larger group in the form of storyboards. Storyboards are drawings, pictorial representations of how stories progress. In this case, the storyboards represented how an uncertainty developed from the current situation in 2012, to an endpoint 20 years later. The men looked at what would happen to the North Rupununi if oil was found and developed; the women looked at what would happen if The North Rupununi District Development Board would not continue as an institution and live up to the standards it has set, and the youths looked at what would happen if they had no recreational facilities.

At the end of the workshop participants were given a chance to provide feedback to the group. One participant expressed how glad he was to be able to discuss the work using his native language of Makushi. Another participant having never been to a workshop found it a learning experience and was glad he participated, while another thought the process used in the workshop was useful and could help his community plan. A local Councilor thought the results presented back were full of ideas that they could use in their community. Some participants expressed the hope that this would not be the last workshop of its kind and that the COBRA team would not wait too long to have another such workshop. All participants and their village councils will receive the workshop results in the form of a report. In addition, there will be follow-up visits to all the communities to gather further views and opinions on alternative futures as part of the COBRA research. For this, photostories and PV films are being developed, to be screened and discussed during the visits.

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