Fundación para la Vida Sostenible Yanapuma (Fundación Yanapuma), $207,600 over four years; counterpart committed, $335,400.Fundación Yanapuma will work with four indigenous Tsáchila communities near Santo Domingo de las Tsáchilas to cultivate cacao and family gardens using methods compatible with the responsible use of the environment, to market their production and to begin to process cacao into paste and candy. The project will benefit 130 farmers and 650 family members. (EC-425)
Agrupación Afro-Ecuatoriana “Mujeres Progresistas” (AAMP), $186,700 over four years; counterpart committed, $210,050.AAMP will build a center to house three new community businesses in the underserved
neighborhood of Comunidad Nigeria, Isla Trinitaria, in Guayaquil: a restaurant with a conference room, a beauty salon and a hostel. AAMP’s 300 members will benefit directly and 5,000 family members and neighbors should benefit indirectly. (EC-426)
Fundación de Organizaciones Campesinas de Salinas (FUNORSAL), $307,750 over three years; counterpart committed, $383,800.
FUNORSAL will expand Hilandería Intercomunal Salinas (HIS), its model enterprise that produces industrial-quality thread, into six additional locations. It will work with the residents, comprising 480 indigenous sheep and alpaca farmers, to improve their herds, launch businesses and organize as communities. The project is expected to benefit 1,000 families in the provinces of Bolívar, Tungurahua and Chimborazo. (EC-427)
Change to Preserve a Way of Life
Ecuador’s 2,500 indigenous Tsáchila citizens live in seven villages located on the lowest western slope of the Andes, where the mountains merge with the coastal lowlands. For the last 30 years, they have cultivated plantains and beans destined for market in Santo Domingo de las Tsáchilas, the sprawling provincial capital. Villagers use the cash to buy food and resort to loans to finance their farming, including the purchase of fertilizers that degrade the land remaining to them. Urbanization has made its way to the edge of the Tsáchila’s ancestral territory, and with it the lure of better opportunities in the city. Those who leave the community will be ostracized if they return; without the development of sound economic options in their villages, young Tsáchila are faced with a cruel choice.
Fundación para la Vida Sostenible Yanapuma (Fundación Yanapuma) works to alleviate poverty and promote environmental stewardship and education in marginalized communities, funded in part by income from its Spanish-language school catering to gap-year European students. In 2009, Fundación Yanapuma received a small grant from the IAF to train a group of Tsachila to cultivate cacao, with the expectation that they would promote the crop to other farmers. In practice this was difficult. Tsáchila families live isolated from each other throughout the rain forest and are unaccustomed to sharing what they know. Additionally, men and women farm separately, which further restricts the transfer of knowledge, even within a household. Fundación Yanapuma successfully adapted by using demonstration plots and by focusing on women and on younger farmers who were more open to change. As a result, cacao will soon be cultivated on 40 hectares, in addition to the 12 hectares planted by the original trainees.
Fundación Yanapuma will use its new IAF award to work with the Tsáchila to develop cacao and vegetables into dependable sources of income. Its training will reach 130 farmers in four villages, who will learn to apply organic methods, to develop nurseries to supply native trees to shade the cacao, and to process cacao into paste and candy. Vegetable gardens, launched via demonstration plots planted near schools, will have the added benefit of defraying the cost of food. Workshops will focus on certification of the vegetables as organic and fair trade as well as on food preparation and nutrition. Exposure to a vanishing aspect of an ancient heritage will complement the introduction of modern technologies. Many younger Tsáchila cannot identify native plants associated with traditional medicine. They will learn from elders to recognize these plants and understand their function, which should reinforce this indigenous people’s reputation as healers and could lend cachet to the new products.
—Marcy Kelley, IAF representative