Indigenous leaders from the Colombian and Ecuadorian Amazon met in Ecuador, within the framework of the regional project TerrIndígena, to exchange experiences on the processes of strengthening their governments and territorial governance, learn about cocoa and native bamboo production projects, and approach examples of community monitoring.
The indigenous peoples of the Colombian and Ecuadorian Amazon advance in developing sustainable and ecological productive initiatives, such as cocoa and chili, for the benefit of their families and the organizational processes of their communities.
At the head of these projects, it is common to see indigenous women who have found spaces for leadership and representation in conservation initiatives and new economic alternatives. This is the case of the Asowaoca (Waorani Cocoa Association), which was born in response to the poaching and uncontrolled fauna of the Yasuní Biosphere Reserve, to promote the organic cultivation of cocoa as a measure of fauna protection. and a path for sustainable local development.
In addition to directing agricultural activities, the women of AMWAE are in charge of the financial and business management of these projects that have had significant environmental and socio-economic impacts. In order to share this experience and exchange relevant strategies in territorial governance and monitoring, leaders of the Waorani Nationality (Ecuador) and the Mirití Paraná Indigenous Territory (Colombia) met in Ecuador.
Starting in the city of Puyo (Pastaza), the indigenous leaders of Ecuador and Colombia discussed the historical context of their peoples and the challenges they have regarding the governance of their territories. In addition, they focused on analyzing the impact of contact, evangelization, and relations with non-indigenous societies on their cultures, government systems, and settlement patterns, as well as the impact of the extractive economy of oil and mining, affecting their autonomy. land and human rights.
The meeting continued with a visit to the Waorani territory, which extends into the provinces of Napo, Pastaza, and Orellana, where approaches and lessons were learned on methodologies and strategies of indigenous peoples regarding the development of local economies and community monitoring systems were exchanged.
In Napo, the Waorani Cocoa Association (Asowaoca) accompanied the tour of the Konipade Cocoa Collection Center, where the cocoa harvesting, drying, and fermentation processes are carried out. In addition, they shared their experience in overcoming the challenges that arise with intermediaries, the quality of cocoa, the effects of the pandemic, and State interventions in these processes.
*An activity that contributes to the conservation and sustainable management of biodiversity and economically benefits the families of the Waorani community*
The NAWE (Waorani Nationality of Ecuador) and the CONFENIAE (Confederation of Indigenous Nationalities of the Ecuadorian Amazon), with the accompaniment of the Ecociencia Foundation, presented the experience around the forest health monitoring model, and the modeling proposal of this experience that has already been scaled, replicated and adjusted to particular contexts. So this case is configured as a benchmark for regional knowledge management and the scaling of high-impact solutions in the region.
Regarding this exchange, Cyndi Patricia Macuna, leader of the Mirití Paraná Indigenous Territory, indicated: “We in the Amazon have many products from nature, many medicinal plants, and I am happy because they have cocoa processing, they have the experience. Women carry a process forward, they are also leaders. It is nice to think that even if we dress differently, our language is still present, and I see that its songs, its rituals, its dances are alive, that is an example of conservation”.
These days of exchange were important to build a critical and better informed perspective on the different legal, political and social contexts of the indigenous territories of the Amazon, and to identify the common challenges in terms of recognition of indigenous rights, relationship with national governments and territorial governance.
This space was organized by NAWE (Waorani Nationality of Ecuador), AMWAE (Association of Waorani Women of the Ecuadorian Amazon) and Asowaoca with the support of Fundación Ecociencia and Gaia Amazonas, and thanks to funding from AFD – the French Development Agency. (AFD) and the French Fund for the Global Environment (FFEM)".