Listening, asking questions and building on what already exists are key actions in strengthening local government and empowering communities, grassroots organizations and regional authorities to care for and protect their territory.
The participants in the program identified their needs, shared their dreams and drew up proposals. This dialogue gave rise to management tools that they presented to the local authorities and that enabled them to influence the decisions made in their region.
HOW WE DID IT
WHAT WE ACHIEVED
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Driven by the dream of changing the red spots on the map showing that Caquetá has been one of the most deforested departments in Colombia in recent years, Victor Garcés and other people from his community in Bajo Caguán constructed the community agenda for Núcleo Campesino 2 with the support of the Paisajes Conectados program.
This agenda is a tool that brings together the community’s proposals in order to solve the main environmental and social issues and challenges in their region. It is a participatory exercise for building territorial peace and promoting sustainable human development in the region.“The agenda summarizes our development plan for current and future generations. It’s our route map. Our dreams and what we want in order for the region to be sustainable over time are reflected in this agenda”, notes Garcés.
Leaders from Bajo Caguán have presented this tool to a range of bodies since 2015. Through the agenda, they have demonstrated that solutions that emerge from the local level can reach regional and national bodies. Their ideas and dreams were enshrined, for instance, in the 2016-2019 Municipal Development Plan for Cartagena del Chairá. The agenda has also been presented to other countries such as Myanmar, who found the process to be a clear example of the importance of driving processes that originate in communities and contribute to peacebuilding.
For Victor and the members of the Núcleo Campesino 2 community in Bajo Caguán, this tool will continue to bring them closer to the construction of a longed-for territory. “We are taking the necessary steps, one by one, to reach our goal of environmental peace in our region. My dream is to see a territory whose families have a different mentality, to create awareness of the environment, and to bring about a change in the landscape where the greens of our forests and the blues of our rivers, lakes and streams come first”, says Garcés.
In 2017 and with the support of Asomujerca, a group of 49 women from Solano and Cartagena del Chairá came together to think about their dreams for their territory, what the most significant problems affecting women in their region were, and how they could use their knowledge to contribute to buen vivir (a concept from the Andean worldview meaning ‘living well’) in their community.
In these gatherings, they shared knowledge of conservation and the importance of the Amazon forest, while also discussing the law and women’s rights. “Gender was the most important aspect, enabling all of us women to focus in the same direction. To think about what we were going to conserve, what we were going to protect, what we wanted to teach, how we were going to work together to protect nature in Caquetá and across the world”, reminded Merly Rocío Girón, one of the women who participated in the gatherings.
In this way, the Gender guidelines for buen vivir in Solano and Cartagena del Chairá came into being. These five guidelines focus on gender-based environmental education, food sovereignty, security and autonomy, clean and free seeds, community organization and social wellbeing. With the guidelines laid down in a document, with the support of Paisajes Conectados the women sought out spaces where they could start to influence local, departmental and national politics. Together, they highlighted their solutions to the main problems of their community.
In 2018, the guidelines were presented to the mayor’s offices of the municipalities, the Caquetá Governor’s Office and local community grassroots organizations. In the presentation, the women inspired other women to have an impact and aim to manage projects for their communities. “I think this is a work of empowerment, as the women we are, in order to set an example for other women. Now, these women have started to say: We rural women are present, we nurture our own seeds and we think about food security”, said Elizabeth Koskon, the indigenous governor of the Emberá assembly, upon hearing the proposals.
After the initial presentation, the women shared the guidelines with other members of their community, managed projects and took actions based on what is contained in the document. “Through the guidelines, we were the ones who empowered ourselves. We started to envision that we wanted to experience change, to have a better future. We started to manage and lots of doors and paths have opened for us, thanks to these guidelines. We were able to organize women’s groups. At the moment I’m part of an association that is made up of 110 women”, stated Girón.
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