Fundación de los Amigos de la Naturaleza (FAN-Bolivia), $256,325 over three years; counterpart committed, $236,047.
FAN-Bolivia will offer training toward expanding ecotourism in Pampas de Yacuma, a municipal protected area near the town of Rurrenabaque in the Beni department, which should improve employment opportunities, income and conservation practices as well as give rise to more enterprises in which community residents participate. The project is expected to directly benefit 200 Bolivians. (BO-525)
Centro de Capacitación y Formación para Mujeres (CCIMCA), $171,304 over 18 months; counterpart committed, $94,152.
CCIMCA will continue to offer low-income women of Oruro training and other services, including legal advice in cases of domestic and sexual violence, and will work to increase the grassroots organizations that are members of Asociación de Mujeres por la Equidad e Igualdad (AMPUIE), a women’s advocacy network. (BO-490-A7)
Fundación Taller de Iniciativas en Estudios Rurales y Reforma Agraria (TIERRA), $204,800 over two years; counterpart committed, $95,750.
TIERRA will continue to assist 27 communities in the La Paz and Chuquisaca departments with land titling and developing a plan to manage community land and natural resources. (BO-506-A5)
Ecotourism Takes a Municipal Partner
Tourism is a dynamic force in Latin America’s economy and has opened opportunities for civil society organizations to channel tangible benefits to grassroots constituencies. However ecotourism, which ideally allows visitors to enjoy pristine natural settings and the local culture while benefits accrue to residents of the surrounding community, is not without its challenges and pitfalls. Poor management of, for example, transportation can be hazardous to the ecosystem and limiting participation can undermine the launch of locally-owned enterprises. Even for well-known sites, the market can be small and the benefits to the community can be meager.
Fundación de los Amigos de la Naturaleza (FAN) is a veteran of years of experience in promoting well-managed, socially-responsible ecotourism in the protected areas of Bolivia’s Amazonian and Chiquitano regions. More recently, it has helped pioneer the concept of municipal responsibility for protected areas as an alternative to the jurisdiction of the central government. This approach transfers responsibility to a unit of local government that, at least theoretically, is better positioned to galvanize community participation in the management of the ecosystem and the support and presentation of the culture native to the locale. The idea of a protected area under the jurisdiction of a municipality introduces a relationship that is fairly new to Bolivia but consistent with the trend toward decentralizing administrative functions and encouraging popular participation that has been evolving over two decades.
FAN will use its IAF award to work in the largest of these areas protected by municipalities, Santa Rosa de Yacuma, along the Yacuma River on the flood plain known as Llanos de Moxos in the Amazon basin. The site already attracts some 18,000 tourists annually to observe at close range a fascinating array of monkeys, turtles, alligators, birds and other wildlife. This popularity as a destination generates considerable income and also risks to the environment. FAN has been working with local stakeholders on a strategy to bolster ecotourism while mitigating or reversing any detrimental effects on the environment and assuring the benefits to the participating communities. The committee on tourism that is organizing to pursue these goals incorporates tour operators, farmers and ranchers as well as representatives of the municipal government and small businesses. FAN will work with the committee to study the environment, develop new attractions and explore opportunities to learn from other municipal protected areas. A training program covers all facets of responsible ecotourism. FAN will also assist the municipal government with its plans to manage Santa Rosa de Yacuma and will construct a center serving tourists. Its ultimate goal is to involve community residents in a shared vision of ecotourism that can bring about lasting grassroots development.
Kevin Healy, IAF representative