Ten years of cooperation with the indigenous and riverside communities of the Amazon

The trade union solidarity organisation of the Italian Trade Union Confederation, ISCOS CISL, has been present for the last ten years in the Amazon region of Alto Solimões. During that period of time, ISCOS CISL has accompanied local development processes, operating in a relationship of respect and reciprocity, with local indigenous and non-indigenous communities: settlers-farmers, riverside, and indigenous Ticunas and Cocamas in this border area between Brazil, Colombia and Peru.

By Gianni Aliotti, ISCOS CISL

The first project was “Sustainable development in the Brazilian Amazon border” that was carried out in 2010 in 25 communities of the Benjamin Constant municipality. The Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs had co-financed it and the association of the Diocese of Alto Solimões, led by the then Bishop, Don Alcimar Caldas Magalhães, had supported it. The objectives and results of this first project contributed to improve the economic, environmental, social and health conditions of almost 4,500 people.

With the purpose of preventing infectious diseases caused by the lack of drinking water, this project allowed the installation of water treatment plants powered by solar energy panels. Concerning the productive field, the focus of the project focused on the food sovereignty of the communities - family farming and fish farming - and solidarity economy in the communities, so a seed bank and a local artisan center were created, among others. All this was done in respect for the environment, the conservation of the rainforest and the biodiversity heritage.

Harvesting good results

After the conclusion with positive results of this project in 2013, the cooperation actions of ISCOS CISL in the region continued until 2016 with a second project called: "Bem Viver - - perspectives of endogenous development in the Amazon",this time funded by EuropeAid, the European Union cooperation agency, which also co-finances the current project "Sustainable and participatory Meso-Amazon Region of Alto Solimões" that began in 2017 based on the experience of the previous projects.

If "Bem Viver" ensured the continuity of the objectives of improving the living conditions of the inhabitants of Alto Solimões through the strengthening of self-management spaces and increasing the income of families, carrying out trainings that favored the exchange of practices and knowledge among the various communities in the agricultural and food sectors, the “Sustainable Solimões” project, in addition to investing in the creation of added value (through the transformation of agricultural products and direct marketing), has been strengthening the associative dimension of producers and their impact on public policies. The direct beneficiaries of these actions are around 2,500 people, while the indirect beneficiaries are more than 30,000, with positive impacts throughout the region.

Proposing a sustainable alternative

The action of ISCOS CISL in Alto Solimões has in fact meant an alternative to a model of predatory and destructive development represented by the illegal exploitation of precious wood and the advance of the "agricultural frontier" (cattle, expansion of monocultures such as soybeans and the production of lignite coal).

Unions oppose the “extractivist” and predatory model that is encouraged by the new Brazilian government with policies that are favoring large landowners and focused on agribusinesses are having serious consequences for both the rights of indigenous peoples and communities rural as for the balance of the ecosystems of the Amazon rainforest, climate change and global warming of the planet.



For more information

Picture: Rural community in Alto Solimões