This article has been translated into English within the PerMondo initiative. PerMondo offers the free translation of websites and documents for NGOs so they can spread their message. A project managed by the translation agency Mondo Agit. Voluntary translators: William Mastick, Isobel White & John Ryan-Mills; Proofreaders: Lauren Hornsey & Marie Wilson
NEW HOLLAND-ECOFONDO FUND (NFHE) FOR ECOLOGICAL AND ECONOMIC SUSTAINABILITY OF THE COMMUNITY SECTOR IN THE CHOCÓ BIOGEOGRAPHIC REGION AND THE AMAZON IN COLOMBIA.
The ECOFONDO Corporation and Royal Embassy of the Netherlands agreed to the Contribution Agreement OS/BOG-608/2004 in September, 2004 which continued the process which started in 2000.
Objective: Support the ecological and economic sustainability of the community sector of the Chocó biogeographic region and the Amazon in Colombia through the co-financing of projects from grassroots organizations and carry out operations aimed at strengthening the institutional capacity of those organizations.
Duration: September 1, 2004 - February 29, 2008.
Supported organizations. With resources from the fund, the following types of organizations were supported:
- Ethno-territorial organizations: 27 in total; 6 from indigenous communities (4 chapters and 2 chapter associations) and 21 community councils of black communities.
- Non-governmental organizations, NGOs: 24 in total; of which 2 have ethnic and gender specificity (black women); 3 are of agricultural producers; and the remaining are concerned with environmental, community, and social issues.
- Cooperatives: 3 in total, all composed of Afro-Colombian population: 1 for recyclers, 1 for women, and 1 for health.
- Joint Ventures: 4 in total; 2 of them are NGO and black ethnic-territorial organizations; 1 a SINA research institute and an indigenous organization; and 1 or 2 NGOs
Geographical coverage.The distribution of projects by regions of coverage was: Chocó biogeographical, 54 projects; Amazon, 4 projects. And by departments, it was: Cauca: 21, Valle del Cauca: 14, Chocó: 10, Córdoba: 4, Nariño: 2, Putumayo: 2, Amazonas: 1, Caquetá: 1, Antioquia: 1, and interdepartmental projects: 2.
Distribution by central theme.The distribution for each of the thematic areas as referenced in the ECOFONDO General Manual of Projects was as follows:
- Environmental management in wilderness areas and sustainable biodiversity management: 22.
- Environmental management in agroecosystems: 33.
- Urban Environmental Management: 3.
Organizations and projects. Listed below are the organizations and the projects supported:
- Esquina Latina Theater Group. A socio-environmental revitalization plan through community theatre. In the municipalities of Calima-Darién, Bolívar y Versalles in the area of the Chocó Biogeográfico in Valle del Cauca.
- Vamos Mujeres Women’s Group. Establishing alternatives and research in order to reactivate and improve farming and technology production. This will lead to a better quality of life and a sustainable use of natural resources that have been validated and implemented by the community of San Francisco de Ichó, Quibdó, Chocó.
- Projects for Colombia Foundation FUNPROCOL. Strengthening farmers’ production systems through alternative organic farming. Sustainable use of natural resources in order to regenerate and preserve the micro-basins of the Las Piedras Riverin the areas of El Moral, Manizales, El Marqués and las Piedras; in the municipality of El Tambo, Cauca.
- Tangui Local Community Council. Establishing environmentally sustainable proposals for methods of traditional production, with an emphasis on fishing in the basin of Medio Atrato. These proposals were validated by the black communities.
- Villanueva Community. Proposing organic farming and technological alternatives to decontaminate water and to preserve the soil.Investigation into alternatives and trials for the clean, ethnic and cultural development of the black communities in the upper basin of the Munguidó-Chocó River.
- Rural and Urban Cauca Workforce Foundation, FUNDEUC. Regenerating the tropical dry forest and the lower Andean mountain. Organic farming production, transformation and commercialization established by community companies and local producers in the municipality of El Tambo.
- Coqui Young Eco-guides Association Group. Eco-tourism: an alternative for the conservation of forests, natural resources and for the economic development of this group of young people from Coquí (municipality of Nuquí), in the department of Chocó.
- Calle Santa Rosa Indigenous Council. Suggestions to regenerate mangroves, natales and rain forests in the indigenous reservationEperaaraSiapidaara de Calle Santa Rosa Saija, municipality of Timbiquí, in the department of Cauca.
- Foundation for the protection and recovery of the environment, FROAM. Program for integral management of the basin of the PlatanaresRiver, in la Tulia, department of Bolívar, Valle del Cauca.
- Rivers Riofrio and Piedras Foundation. An environmental management program for the recovery of the strategic ecosystem of the Madrevieja de Madrigal wetlands, in the municipality of Riofrío, Valle del Cauca.
- Yubarta Foundation. Biological assessment and sustainable use of the aquatic mammals in the bay of Malaga and its area of influence.
- Apartadó Local Community Council (Alto Baudó). A productive and socio-organizational environmental proposal as an alternative way of managing and sustainably using the lands of theApartadó Local Community Council, in Alto Baudó.
- Espavé Foundation. Alternative management, use and exploitation of native oil palms in five black communities in Vigía del Fuerte (Antioquia) and in Bojayá (Chocó). River Micay Integration Community Council.Territorial environmental management program for the sustainable exploitation of natural resources, traditional farming, organizational strengthening of the Community Council and mining intervention.
- Cuerval local Community Council.Territorial environmental management program for the sustainable exploitation of the natural resources of the Community Council of Cuerval-Timbiquí, in order to recover mollusks, traditional farming and to strengthen organization.
- Community Council of El Playón Rio Sigüí in Micay. Territorial environmental management program for the Community Council of El Playón Río Singüí in Micay, in order to sustainably exploit the natural resources, to recover native trees from deforested areas, traditional farming and organizational strengthening.
- Los Manglares Community Council.Territorial environmental management program to sustainably exploit the natural resources of traditional farms and to strengthen the organization of the Los Manglares Community Council.
- Sanjoc de Micay Community Council. Environmental management program of the Community Council of Sanjoc for strategic usage and sustainable management of the collective lands. Aimed at recovering areas deteriorated by mining with species of balsa treeand chameleon vines, the sustainable exploitation of natural resources, of traditional farming and organizational strengthening.
- Together for Progress (Youths and Adults) – JUNPRO. Environmental management program for the sustainable exploitation of natural resources, of traditional farming, of the association of species of coconut, mulberry and palm, and the organizational strengthening with the Community Council of Chanzará.
- Guapi Productive Women’s Multi-active Cooperative, COOPMUJERES. Traditional environmental program on the lands of the Local Community Council of Alto Guapi and in the old town of the municipality of Guapi.
- United Black Community Council. Creation of an environmental management plan with an emphasis on marine and forest resources in cooperation with United Black Community Council.
- Renacer Negro Community Council. Strengthening of the Renacer Negro Community Council (Basin of Timbiquí River) through a program to activate organic farming production, along with a community environmental management program.
- Black People in Action Community Council. Organizational strengthening of the Black People in Action Community Council through participative planning with an emphasis on the conservation of the forestry ecosystem. Also associated with the food security of the River Bubuey Community Councilin the municipality of Timbiquí.
- Women’s Support Association. Optimization of production processes and the commercialization of food, medicinal and aromatic plants with a system of rooftops with urban and rural groups of Afro-Colombian women from Timbiquí-Cauca.
- Llano Bajo Community Council. Protecting biodiversity by the implementation of sustainable production strategies in the collective territory of the Community Council of Llano bajo,the AnchicayáRiver, municipality of Buenaventura.
- Sabaletas Black Community LocalCouncil. Organizational strengthening of theSabaletasCommunity Council and the implementation of sustainable production activities for the conservation of the natural resources of collective territory.
- Limones Community Council. Sustainable management of natural resources of the collective lands of theLimones Black Community through systems of sustainable production.
- San Marcos Community Council. Conservation of the tropical rainforest of the collective lands of San Marcos through planning and regulations for the use and management of natural resources, and the implementation of sustainable production systems.
- Temporary Coalition CENSAT “Agua Viva” – Black Communities Process , PCN. Implementation of a strategy to strengthen the organizational capabilities and the political environmental action of Afro-Colombian communities to face mega projects in the Colombian Pacific (phase 1).
- Pacific Investigation Centre Foundation. CENIPACÍFICO. Consolidate an eco-tourism management program in the bay of Malaga.
- Naranjal Sugar Cane Agricultural Producers Association, ASOPROCAÑA. Strengthening the association of producers of traditional sugar cane through production processes, transformation and environmental sustainability in Naranjal, municipality of Bolívar, Valle del Cauca.
- Horizonte Foundation. Management and conservation of strategic areas in the QuebradaGuasayacoMicrobasin, and the River Hato Viejo Sub-basin, with alternative organic farming on farms in the areas of Esmeralda y San Joaquín, municipality of Mercaderes, department of Cauca.
- ECOVIDA Foundation. Program for ecological production and commercialization through the creation of smallholdings in forests, as a way of preserving natural resources and water inthe middle of theCajonesMicrobasininVereda El Palmar, municipalityof Mercaderes.
- Corporation for Community Eco-development, COMUNITAR. Ethically, culturally and ecologically sustainable alternatives for afropatiana women who are heads of their families in the areas of Méndez, Guayabal and Patíain the Patía Valley, department of Cauca.
- Regional Corporation for Home Services of the El Patia Plan – CORPATIA. Strengthening of environmental protection processes and prioritization of ecological production systems in farms inSubcuenca del Río Capitanes, municipalities of Patía and Balboa, department of Cauca.
- Amazonian Institute for Scientific Investigation of the Regional Indigenous Sinchi Council of the Middle Amazon, CRIMA. Conservation, use, management and sustainable exploitation of the resources of the biodiversity in the communities of Pueblos Andoke, Muinane, Uitoto and Nonuya in Medio Caquetá.
- Esawá Foundation. Starting a reconversion process of the extensive farming system and recovery of wetlands and forests as a strategy to preserve the hills of Caquetá.
- Indigenous CouncilNasa La Florida. Preservation of water sources, of nature reserves and regulationof the use of ecosystems and natural resources as an environmental strategy that will allow autonomy and continuity in Resguardo Nasa de la Florida, Mocoa, Putumayo.
- Agroecological Farmers Association of the Duende Regional Natural Park Buffer Zone, ASODUENDE. Implementation of proposals to preserve, transform and commercialize food products in the sub-basins of the Rivers Riofrío andCalima, as a sustainable way of developing the communities of Regional Del Duende.
- Indigenous Council Association ofEperaraSiapidaara de Nariño-ACIESNA. Security and food sovereigntystrategies designed and implemented by the indigenous communities of EperaraSiapidaara de Nariño in order to prevent the increase of illicit crop use versus alternative and sustainable use and management of natural resources.
- Sueño Verde Corporation. Establishing areas of conservation and sustainable community proposals for forest and farming production, and commercialization in the communities of Linares and Patagonia in the municipality of Tierralta, Alto Sinú, department of Córdoba.
- Sabanas Foundation. Implementation of sustainable forestry systems with an emphasis on ecological production and restoration of degraded areas in the zone of influence of the San Jorge River, in the area of Tierradentro, municipality of Montelíbano, department of Córdoba.
- Gaviota Temporary Union Foundation - Friends of the Earth Corporation. Models of ecological production systems for farming economy in relation to the forests of the micro basin of Quebrada El Tay, municipality of Tierralta, Córdoba.
- Embera KatioTown Council of theResguardo Cañaveral del Alto San Jorge. Territory management plan of Embera del Alto San Jorge and strengthening the food securityof the indigenous community of EmberaKatío.
- Parents Association of the Quidbó. Escuela Normal Superior and the Quidbó Escuela Normal Superior(ENSQ). Environmental education project at the teaching school of Quibdó.
- Worker Cooperative for United Recyclers for Quidbó, COOPRUQ. Solid waste management program to contribute to environmental decontamination, to the preservation of natural resources and to improve the quality of life in the town of Quibdó.
- Raspadura Plan Local Community Council. Recovery of soil degraded by mining, reforestation with native species and implementation of ecological activities to manage the land and environment in the community ofRaspadura, Chocó.
- Temporary Union Local Community Council of El Cedro and the Farallones Foundation. Recovery of forestry management and an ecological proposal for the basin of River Valle, Corregimiento el Valle, municipality of Bahía Solano, department of Chocó.
- Pueblo Nasa Regional Council Association of Putumayo-KWE’SXKSXA’W. Environmental and cultural land management in the territory of 33 indigenous reserves in Pueblo Nasa del Putumayo, ¨kwe´sxksxa´w¨.
Out of the total of 58 approved projects, 50 were completed and 8 were cancelled. 7 of these were cancelled due to administrative and accounting discrepancies with the requirements established in the co-financing convention and that caused the finalization of the projects. 1 project (CITMA) was cancelled due to serious disruptions of public order due to armed conflict and impeded the implementation of the project.
Results. The scope of the intervention of the projects co-financed by Nuevo Fondo Holanda-ECOFONDO can be summarized in results and goals of great strategic projection with regards to environmental conservation, ecological production and a strengthening of the communities’ organization. This also includes highly positive interventions in environmental planning and in applied investigation, with transverse strategies for environmental education, public political policies, integral handling of environmental conflicts and communication. The contribution of these projects is clear when it comes to sustainable environmental farming and ethnical lands, as well as in urban areas, ofChocó Biogeográfico andof Amazonia.
The following are the scope and projection of the projects’ results according to the geographical distribution:
- Projects of COCOCAUCA. 56 communities benefited from the totality of the co-financed projects with community councils and organizations of black communities in COCOCAUCA: 5 from the Community Council (CC) in Sanjoc, 5 from CC Playón, 3 from CC Integración, 20 from CC Manglares, 14 from CC Mamuncia, 3 from CC Cuerval, 3 from CC Chanzará and 3 from CC Guapi Abajo.
The CCs were made more dynamic by the creation of the Veredales Committees that correspond to 53 local dynamics with relative effectiveness.Managing councils were strengthened with regards to training, effective and real participation. Their role of guiding organizational processes of planning, management and control of collective lands added to their capacity to self-govern.
The COCOCAUCA regional office, an example in these processes, was formed to deal with the organizational aspect of the Community Councils, and 4 Community Council local offices were established, 2 with their own headquarters. This helps to evaluate the institutional platform with a better sense of governing for the Community Councils to exercise their authority.
210.000 hectares of collective territory belonging to black communities in the municipalities of López and Guapi (Pacific coast of the department of Cauca) were diagnosed, divided into zones and received environmental planning as part of the co- financed projects.
- Timbiqui Cauca Community Council. The main achievements of these 3 projects were the environmental management plans for the collective territory of 3 community councils, with their own internal regulations and specific measures for strategic ecosystems in each case.
Also, the evaluation and dynamics of the productive uses of the territory through the creation of ecological farming systems on 118 family plots of land, with livestock, vegetable gardens and multiple systems. This contributes to the quality of the environment and to the food security of the black communities.
The process of evaluating the organizational structures of the councils, with an emphasis on their management and on local participation, was a contribution to the governability of the collective territories. This has been amplified and projected with the formation of the Timbiquí Municipality Community Council Association, a dynamic organization that has and will be key to defending the territory and for ethnic communities.
- Buenaventura Projects. The Community Councils of the black communities ofLimones, Sabaletas, Llano Bajo and San Marcos managed to achieve an organized, systematic and georeferenced environmental plan of their collective territory. This is the base for sustainable use in ecological production processes, environmental preservation and their own governance.
In addition, faced with the grave problem of the destruction of the ecosystems of theAnchicayáRiver, due to mud being dumped there by the company EPSA, the community councils managed to document the problem even further and to start the pertinent legal action.
These 4 projects also managed to project a significant strategic conservation action plan, which consisted of establishing strict conservation reserves, with the aim of creating a green corridor that connects territories to the forest reserve of San Cipriano-Escalerete, up to the National Park of Los Farallones.
Local, regional and national public institutions took part in this project.
- Valle del Cauca Centre. In an area highly disrupted by networks of drug trafficking and illegal crop trafficking, the projects put into place by the River RiofrioFoundation, Asoprocaña, FROAM and ASODUENDE managed to establish environmentally friendly alternatives for the population connected with these illegal activities.
In this way they acted specifically to protect the region’s strategic ecosystems, such as the Regional Natural Park of Páramo del DuendeandMadrevieja Wetlands of Madrigal, to influence actions, and public municipal and regional politics in order to preserve them.
- Amazonia. The Colombian Amazonia is one of the most important ecosystems in the world. The co-financed projects identified and initiated alternative ways of sustainably using the territory, instead of traditional practices like cutting down trees for farming and for agriculture.
In this way the projects carried out by the indigenous communities of the Middle Amazon, together with the ISinchi Institute, and by the farming communities of Lomerío Caqueteño, through the EsawáFoundation, built and implemented sustainable production processes in order to protect the territory and the ecology of the region.
The communities of Pueblo Nasa del Putumayo also carried out rigorous, systematic and environmental territorial planning for over 1 million hectares of land. They documented the impacts generated by hydrocarbon megaprojects, monoculture and the extractions made by the Colombian state and international companies. This project contributes to ethical governing and to the conservation of the region’s natural heritage.
- Chocó Department. The co-financed projects Community Councilsof the black communities of Atrato, Baudó and San Juan, are a concrete production alternative to benefit the conservation of ecosystems, improving life quality and empowering ethnic territories.
These projects have found and validated biophysical alternatives to recover the land degraded by intensive mining (Alto San Juan); to sustainably use the territory affected by megaprojects (Baudó-Carretera Panamericana); to standardize the transformation processes for local products (Medio Atrato); to invigorate production and the conservation of community forests (El Valle-Bahía Solano); community eco-tourism (Coquí-Nuquí); and the empowerment and improvement of the population’s quality of life with an emphasis on gender equality (San Francisco de Ichó).
- Cauca Andino. This is aregion profoundly affected by the density of land property, large estates, the agriculture industry, among others, that disrupts ecology and human life.Because of this the land is subjected to illegal cultivation and armed internal conflict. The farming communities that benefited from the projects carried out by FUNPROCOL, COMUNITAR, ECOVIDA, CORPATIA, FUNDEUC and the Horizonte Foundationfound environmental alternatives to improve their lives and their surroundings, their level of organization and their community prospects. This was achieved by applied and planned investigation into agro-ecosystems and strategic ecosystems of high local value with regards to biodiversity.
These projects also empowered specific sectors of the population, such as women, and created organizational models that will contribute to sustainable advanced project.
Conservation, community economy, governability and organization. In short, these 50 co-financed projects have made specific contributions, such as the following:
Environmental management of wild areas and sustainable use of the biodiversity:
- The protection of local and regional strategic ecosystems, settlements and species of fauna and flora.
- The declaration of these collective territories as strict areas of conservation.
- The planning and regulation of collective territories and strategic terrestrial, fluvial and marine ecosystems.
- The substantial increase in knowledge of forest species with a high economic and cultural value, and of vulnerable species, such as the aquatic mammals ofthe bay ofMalaga.
- The substantial increase in biophysical knowledge of collective territory, through exhaustive environmental diagnosis and georeference.
- The creation and implementation of instruments for the government and for the use of ethnical collectiveterritory (indigenous and Afrocolombian): environmental territory management plans, internal regulations for the use of the land, species management plans.
- The community creation and positioning of public and environmental political proposals in local and regional areas.
- The promotion of green corridors and alternative ways of using protected areas.
Environmental Management in Agroecosystems:
- 1250 hectares with property planning and established agroecological manufacturing systems, generating production for auto-consumption (food security) and commercialization (improving household income).
- Agroecological production strategies alongside proposals for conservation, through agro-forestry systems, barriersfor the protection and enrichment of vegetation cover and silvopastoral systems.
- Standardization of processes for production, transformation, and commercializationof clean products for both local and regional markets.
- Improving levels of nutrition for families in general, and in particular for children.
Urban Environmental Management:
- Innovative educational strategies, introduced through work with children and young people, both in and out of formal education, through drama, development of Institutional and Educational Projects (PEI) and.
- Environmental School Projects (PRAES).
- Integrated management processes to deal with solid waste and strengthening of recyclers as environmental agents and managers.
- Provisions for identifying urban problems and improving urban ecosystems.
Actions to strengthen institutions, supported by the New Netherlands-ECOFONDO Fund.
Water, a public good and a fundamental right: Since April 2005, alongside a group of 100 other organizations, ECOFONDO has developed the project for the “Construction and participatory implementation of public policy, actions and forms of organization to advocate for water as a public good in Colombia”. This process received valuable contributions from the New Netherlands-ECOFONDO Fund.
First Campaign: Water, a public good. Within the framework of this project, a first campaign has gone ahead: WATER AS A PUBLIC GOOD, aimed at protecting water and the ecosystems it generates; the reduction and, if possible, elimination of the use of agrochemicals, in order to reduce the contamination of river basins and promote agroecology as an alternative to the use of these substances and genetically modified crops, in addition to building and implementing elements of urban sustainability related to water and regional ecosystems.
Public policy creation was addressed through the promotion of participative processes involving non-governmental and community organizations, many of which are part of ECOFONDO, building sustainable alternatives in environmental, social, and cultural matters, deepening and standardizing scientific and community knowledge about water in order to strengthen evidence bases, and encouraging citizens, organizations and local populations to increase of their awareness and their active role in the resolution of the main environmental problems of the territory. Regional campaigns were the mobilizing factor of organizations and citizens.
At a national level the campaign managed to build forceful arguments against the privatization of water and in particular managed, alongside the environmental movement, to successfully oppose the draft law 365, known as “the water law”.
A significant working strategy to make the campaign proposals a reality was the implementation of demands throughsymbol cases representing the different problems faced, such as the defense of Páramo del Almorzadero; diversion and channeling projects for the Ovejas and Guarinó Rivers; the Guamés Multipurpose Project in the Cocha Lagoon; the defense of the Ciénaga de Corralito, in the Caribbean; the defense of the Chichamocha River and the Las Ceibas River.
Additionally, the campaign made a significant contribution to strengthening our country’s public services, in addition tocreating a new culture and to politically protecting environmentalist organizations, whose day-to-day work forms the base of this protection, which is becoming more and more necessary. The campaign became a benchmark of social participation, in that it qualified and brought together both regional and local social processes through production and sharing of information.
The most important results of this campaign were as follows:
- 12 baseline documents, one for each of ECOFONDO’s Regional Units, which collect information and adequately standardize Colombian regions with regardsto water and its associated and strategic ecosystems. Additionally, there is a national synthesis document which brings together the main elements of each region, in order to come up with a national vision.
- The forums chose 16 symbol cases which were developed in regional campaigns.
- The 16 declarations which were developed, published and debated include commitments to coordinated political action between organizations in the forum and other persons associated with these declarations.
- Formation of national grassroots water-user associations.
Second Campaign: Water, a Fundamental Right.
The second campaign’s main aim was to establish a human right to water in Colombia, and public management of water on behalf of state bodies and water-user associations, within a framework of environmental protection and sustainability.
Specific objectives were as follows:
Promoting major national mobilization towards deep analysis of strategic and structural themes related to the use, management, and conservation of water.
Boosting links between organizations and social movements committed to achieving constitutional reform,forming the basis of a comprehensive model for public water management from public policy proposals, developed through concrete experience in different regions.
The most significant actions and results achieved were:
- Establishment of 2 strategies aimed at developing the campaign’s topics, in particular the promotion of a constitutional referendum, and awareness-raising of the close relationship between water availability and regulatory ecosystems of the water cycle: in August 2007, navigation of the RiverMagdalena, over 20 days, was carried out between Barranquilla and Girardot. Navigation of the Amazon River, in December 2006, between Loreto (Peru) and Benjamín Constant (Brazil), took place over 10 days. This improved the level of knowledge about the relationship between the problem of access to water and the status of these ecosystems.
- A constitutional referendum was pushed through and included in the political charter. The referendum concerned access to drinking water as a human right, a minimum, free of charge water for Colombian people, the enforceability of the provision of public services for state bodies and non-profit bodies, and the protection of essential ecosystems for the water cycle. In February 2007, the initiative was launched and a national committee of 9 developers was formed. Although the target was a 5% increase of the electoral roll, at the end of the year more than 250,000 signatures had been collected. In January 2008, the proposal and the memorandum were brought before the National Civil Registry.
- Organizational processes, such as those of water-user associations, were strengthened in order to defend water as a public good.
Updating and revising the Regional Environmental Priorities.
A comprehensive and participative process to update and revise the Regional Environmental Priorities was carried out. As a result, documents were created which clarify the problems and environmental priorities for participative environmental management.