Jawalla benefits from several income generating projects

Economic activities in Jawalla, Region Seven, are poised for diversification as community members beef – up preparations for the opening of the village’s first-ever eight-room guest house and general store.

Jawalla, a traditional mining community located just off the bank of the Kamarang River, upper Mazaruni, is home to 1,135 Akawaios, one of Guyana’s nine Amerindian nations.

Toshao of Jawalla, Verron Henry-Williams

The village’s toshao, Verron Henry-Williams explained that the operationalisation of the guesthouse, and general store will provide villagers with additional employment opportunities through the expansion of community-based tourism.

She noted that the growing influx of visitors to the village led to the council’s decision to construct a guest house. The toshao stated that while these visits are welcomed, the village “sometimes do not have accommodations for them to have a comfortable stay.”

“Jawalla is a mining community, and so that is why a lot of people come here, but we can show them so many things about our community that they may not know exist, so it will be an exciting time for the community,” the toshao said.

Apart from mining, villagers are also engaged in subsistence agriculture and fishing. Toshao Henry- Williams further expressed that the new venture also presents an opportunity for the village to showcase its natural beauty, food, and culture to attract more tourists.

A frontal view of Jawalla village shop

Under the leadership of the Dr Ali-led Administration, several steps have been taken by the Ministry of Tourism, Industry and Commerce to revolutionise the country’s tourism sector, to provide a unique and multicultural experience to visitors.

Since assuming office in August 2020, government has injected significant funds to make this a reality as tourism has proven to be a lucrative industry for several countries.

Regarding the operations of the general store, Henry- Williams stated that the price of goods became quite costly which placed added burdens on villagers.

“The village shop will supply the community members with items at a lower price because the businesses (around here) that are private is very costly, so this will help to ease the pockets of our villagers,” she added.

The toshao said that the store will serve as a springboard to create other employment opportunities for villagers. At present, the store is being managed by two employees with the hopes to employ others, after the facility expands.

The village’s $15 million Covid-19 relief fund, which was distributed in 2021, brought these income-generating projects into existence. Of this sum, $2.5 million was expended to construct the guesthouse, and $1.5M on the shop.

Henry-Williams expressed her gratitude to the government for recognising the need to assist Jawalla residents in such a way, whilst addressing other matters that required their attention.

The PPP/C Administration, in 2021, distributed $1.73 billion to Amerindian communities as part of its one-off COVID-19 relief investment fund, aimed at promoting entrepreneurship and revitalising hinterland economies.

The cash grant is one of many initiatives conducted by government to cushion the financial hardship of the Covid-19 pandemic.

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