Indigenous Awajun families have long inhabited the isolated region at the foot of the Condor mountain range in the heart of the Peruvian Amazon in today’s Condorcanqui province (in the Amazonas department). They have always lived in total harmony with the surrounding forest and river as fishermen, hunters, gatherers, and for a few years now, growers.
Today, however, the Awajun people face new challenges and threats. First of all, they must defend their land and their rights, which are threatened by mining operations that were heavily supported by the previous government and that could end up polluting all of their land and river. With increasing population pressure and declining fish and wild-animal resources, diversification of food products is also becoming a top priority. Indigenous Awajun families, who have been open to the outside world for over 40 years now, must also have access to income, which is now necessary in order to cover the basic but vital expenses for medical care and schooling for children and young people.
The Awajun indigenous organization, ODECOFROC, which supports the development of organized border communities in the Cenepa region, sought out AVSF to help strengthen its activities in several areas: fishing and fish farming; women’s poultry farming (by means of a vaccination and animal health program); and the production and sale of high-quality cocoa, particularly cocoa made from native varieties. AVSF will help indigenous families acquire new agricultural knowledge and practices while preserving the traditional practices and know-how of these Amazonian populations with respect to fishing, hunting, and gathering. AVSF will also help the Amazonian communities maintain their autonomy so that they do not become too dependent on external markets. To do so, AVSF will help ODECOFROC develop a plan for sustainable forest management. Finally, AVSF will assist the communities in negotiating with local authorities on co-funding from municipal budgets. Peruvian law requires municipalities to allocate 10% of their investment budget to crop and livestock farming production.
The project, now co-funded by the Union Européenne, will begin in January 2013 and will last three years.