2020: Community Training in the Times of a Pandemic

Posted on 22 diciembre 2020

Without a doubt, our work with local communities, the true guardians of the territories, has been transformed during this pandemic year. But there is one thing that has not changed, and it is the priority for us to accompany them in the protection and management of their territories.
Without a doubt, our work with local communities, the true territorial guardians, has been transformed during this pandemic year. But there is one aspect that has not changed; accompanying them in the protection and management of their territories continues to be a priority. Therefore, we sought alternatives to continue training processes in areas such as the Amazonian Andean Piedmont, a territory in the Colombian Amazon that is vital to the natural and cultural wealth of the region.

In the department of Putumayo, we developed the radio program Ancient Footprints, a space to learn more about the traditional knowledge and governance of the Kichwa, Camëntsá, Inga, Quillasinga, and Siona peoples. We also made a digital booklet and carried out multiple virtual meetings. We were thus able to continue the Indigenous Territorial Governance Training Program (PFGTI, for its acronym in Spanish), which since 2017 has sought to strengthen the indigenous communities of the Amazon to improve their own governance processes in their territories.

We found opportunities in the challenges posed by distance to develop new training and capacity-building mechanisms for the defense of their territories. Thanks to this initiative, supported by the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (NORAD) and Norway’s International Climate and Forest Initiative, several indigenous organizations and institutions in the region—approximately 30 teenagers, grandparents, women, and men of the Ihwa, Camëntsä, Inga, Quillasinga, and Siona ethnic groups—participated in the training sessions this year.

In parallel, we also developed a similar training process in the Caquetá Land and Water Conservation District (DCSAC, for its acronym in Spanish), a protected area that plays a vital role connecting the forests of the Andes and the Amazon.

In this case, virtual tools like Zoom were our closest allies and for four months served to train 30 local leaders on issues related to territorial governance. The purpose of the trainings is for them to gain the resources needed to defend their territories from deforestation, a problem that threatens most forests in the department of Caquetá, which according to official figures has the highest yearly forest loss in the country.

This initiative, supported by the funds from Patrimonio Natural, had great results, including several advocacy proposals for the conservation and sustainable management of the territory, a “plantathon” to restore degraded areas, and a restoration proposal that supports 11 community initiatives for ecological restoration and the strengthening of tree nurseries.
Virtual trainings, conducted by WWF and the Natural Heritage Fund, to strengthen governance processes and protect the region's forests and rivers.
© WWF Colombia
Woman and girl planting trees to ecologically restore a portion of their farm, located in the Caquetá Soil and Water Conservation District.
© Robinson García Rojas