In the 2012 issue of the Grassroots Development journal, we celebrate the IAF’s long and productive history with the indigenous peoples of the Americas by focusing on how some of them use the resources of their heritage to move away from poverty and powerlessness.
“Mapping Kuna Yala”
Until recently, no roads connected the Comarca to the rest of Panama, but over the past few years, the first all-weather road has served to penetrate the insularity with a rapidly increasing flow of bus and truck traffic. With funding from the IAF and the Spanish government’s foreign-assistance agency, the Kuna people who live in this region took on a detailed mapping project strategically designed to protect their lands, natural resources and way of life.
“Carbon and Community Development: An Experiment in Oaxaca”
In an effort to reduce carbon emissions in Oaxaca from timber and coffee production that heat up the atmosphere, poor coffee farmers and community logging operations began capturing carbon and positioned themselves to be players in sophisticated markets. This article describes how IAF funding enabled grantee partner Environmental Services of Oaxaca to expand its support of this experiment and create a culture of conservation.
“Indigo and Indigeneity in El Salvador”
The place of indigo in Salvadoran life has a loaded history of conquest and mercantilism that devastated and dispersed the native population. Here we highlight the collaboration between Añil Cielo Azul and IAF grantee partner Asociación El Bálsamo on a plan to revive the production of indigo and reclaim the country’s pre-colonial relationship with the plant.
“Indigenous in El Salvador”
This article describes why it is hard to define who is indigenous in El Salvador today, as five centuries of displacement and subjugation have pushed these people to the periphery of society.
“A Peruvian Textile Tradition and the Challenges of the Marketplace”
Chinchero, Peru, has a rich textile tradition as a uniquely situated stopover for many tourists traveling from Cusco to the Sacred Valley of the Incas. The Center for Traditional Textiles of Cusco, an IAF grant recipient for two multi-year periods, aims to revitalize this tradition as a viable economic activity and help raise the quality of local textiles through knowledge exchange.
Photo Essay: “A Multi-Faceted Strategy to Rescue Inca Forests”
This vibrant photo essay tells the story of the loss of native forest around Andean highland communities, the resulting degradation of the ecosystem and collaborative efforts among indigenous communities of the Vilcanota region to protect the land. IAF grantee partner Asociación de Ecosistemas Andinos has helped weavers improve textiles made from alpaca fiber and wool and market them in additional outlets in Peru and abroad.
“The Persevering Woman: Rosario Quispe’s Dreams for the Puna”
Here we profile Rosario Quispe, a native of the arid Argentine puna whose work has breathed new life into communities of Coyas, Argentina’s largest indigenous group, with a uniquely indigenous vision of development. The organization she founded, IAF grantee partner Warmi Sayajsunqo, provides microcredit based on cultural and economic considerations and helps families work toward a small businesses instead of living on subsidies or a salary.
“Between Justice and Vigilantism: Organizing to Confront Crime in Post-War Guatemala”
While the Guatemalan press is filled with accounts of alleged kidnappers and suspected thieves, La Seguridad represents a grassroots effort by the organized poor to guarantee safety in their community in the absence of adequate state protection. This article recounts La Seguridad’s handling of one scandal in particular involving a young teacher and a crew of accomplices who lured trusting colleagues into a scam that redirected entire paychecks out of their bank accounts and into high-interest loans.
“Indigenous Reciprocity and Globalization in Rural Bolivia”
Ayni, the Quechua term for reciprocity, is the feature of this article, which explores the ways in which this traditional practice has changed as rural Bolivians have become increasingly integrated into global markets.
Development Notes: “Cooking Under the Sun,” “Learning with Los Izalcos” and “IAF Grantees at Rio+20”
In this article, we feature Amigas del Sol, a grassroots group that trains individuals to build solar ovens that reduce the number of cooking fires that create daily challenges in rural life. Use of the ovens, which generate no smoke, operate at no cost and save forests, constitutes a small step toward protecting the environment and has significantly reduced vulnerability to respiratory diseases.
In addition, this article highlights how Salvadoran children can learn about their country’s indigenous communities by playing a board game developed by IAF grantee partner Museo de la Palabra y la Imagen in collaboration with artists, anthropologists and educators.
Finally, we note that representatives of civil society from around the world rallied during in Rio de Janeiro to commemorate the 20th Anniversary of the 1992 Earth Summit. The involvement of IAF grantee partners in these parallel activities was testament to their ability to effect the positive change that can have far-reaching implications.
“Reports: Indigenous Grantees Five Years Later”
Since 2009, the IAF has visited selected organizations five years after their IAF funding ceased, to assess what worked, what did not, and why. This article illustrates the relevance of culturally appropriate projects to three indigenous communities, the development of local assets to address social challenges and the influence of context on the outcome of these initiatives.
- “Complexity Demystified: A Guide for Practitioners”
- “Blackness in the White Nation: A History of Afro-Uruguay”
- “When the World Calls: The Inside Story of the Peace Corps and its First 50 Years”