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All short-listed projects are listed alphabetically, or you can filter by Prize Category, Year, Project Type or Country.


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Winner

AAQ – Agentes Agroflorestais Quilombolas (Quilombolas Agroforestry Agents)

This project wants to recover the ciliary forest (water-bordering vegetation) of the Igarape Simauma, in the Quilombola territory St. Rosa dos Pretos, through the planting of native trees. Its other aim is to collectively develop an agroforestry system in close dialogue with subsistence farming practitioners of the Quilombo.

As a result of the arrival of a mining company and the reduction of region’s productive areas, its identified serious problems, such as deforestation, silting in rivers and streams, and lack of water. It was from this diagnosis and discussion within the community that its created the collective Quilombola Agroforestry Agents on June 5th 2017, formed by 20 young quilombolas.

  • Food, Landscapes, Water
  • 2018
  • Intentional Projects
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Winner

African Biodiversity Network

ABN was established in the late 1990s, through the ‘African Group’ of policy-influencers, registering as a Trust in Kenya in 2010. It now has 36 active partners in 12 countries across Africa, and has incubated a number of important regional initiatives, including the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA).

It grew out of a commitment to nurture a new leadership in Africa, dedicated to enhancing biological and cultural diversity, and social and ecological justice. It uses exchange programs, training and knowledge-sharing to strengthen rights, policy and legislation.

A particular focus is the empowering of indigenous and local communities across Africa to revive their bio-cultural diversity & protect their sacred natural sites & territories (SNS&T).

Download the African Biodiversity Network case study as a PDF document (820KB)

Project Summary

Organisation founded: 2002
Africa – particularly East, West and Southern.

ABN supports Africans in voicing their views on issues such as food and seed sovereignty, genetic engineering, agrofuels, biodiversity protection, extractive industries and the rights of small-holder farmers.

ABN’s focus is on indigenous knowledge, ecological agriculture and biodiversity related rights, policy and legislation. ABN pioneers culturally-centred approaches to social and ecological problems in Africa through sharing experiences, co-developing methodologies and creating a united African voice on these issues.

 

Key Project Information (at 2018):

  • Climate: all African climates.
  • Key words: indigenous knowledge; sacred sites & territories; small farmers; youth; agro-ecology methods; biodiversity.
  • Primary Beneficiaries: indigenous peoples and communities; small farmers; youth; women.
  • Core Education Activity: indigenous knowledge; youth; agroecology methods.
  • Project reach: across Benin, Botswana, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe, through 36 partners.

 

ABN’s story

Established in 1996 by policy influencers from the African Group, one of five Regional Groups of the UN, ABN’s status was formalised in 2002.

ABN focuses on Indigenous knowledge, ecological agriculture and biodiversity related rights, policy and legislation, and has been responsible for numerous regional initiatives, including helping to launch of the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) in 2011, which it played a key role in conceiving and developing.

In 2010 ABN became a Trust, and today supports 36 partners in 12 African countries.

 

ABN’s Mission, Vision and Values

ABN’s Mission is to ignite and nurture a growing African network of individuals and organisations working passionately from global to local level, with capacity to resist harmful developments and to influence and implement policies and practices that promote recognition and respect for people and nature.

ABN Vision: We envisage vibrant and resilient African communities rooted in their own biological, cultural and spiritual diversity, governing their own lives and livelihoods, in harmony with healthy ecosystems.

ABN Core Values:
1. Diversity and mutual respect for ethnic, cultural, spiritual and biological well-being for present and future generations.
2. Transparency and accountability as underlying principles of how we work so as to enable equal, inclusive and full participation.
3. Solidarity with those working for justice for people and nature.
4. Commitment, courage and tenacity to promote ABN core values and to defend and implement its principles.
5. Transformation of individuals and organisations as catalysts of change.

 

 

High Level Outputs & Outcomes

  • The Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA) was Conceived in 2008 and launched in 2011, as a broad alliance of different civil society actors that are part of the struggle for food sovereignty and agroecology in Africa.
  • Legislation known as ‘Resolution 372’ was passed in May 2017 by the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (ACHPR) to safeguard the continent’s sacred natural sites and territories – the ABN was a key force in petitioning for this law.
  • It is a unique resolution and the first of its kind in Africa. Getting [Resolution 372] passed was one thing; making it a reality on the ground with communities to benefit is another.” Simon Ndonco Mitambo, ABN’s Regional Programmes Coordinator.

 

ABN’s Education & Network Lessons

ABN’s education lessons include the importance of combining practical training on agroecology and youth engagement with high level work to protect and value indigenous peoples’ rights to sacred sites and territories through UN international and national human rights systems and legal structures.

ABN has learnt many lessons about being a pioneering ‘Network’ of civil society organisations spread across many countries. Here is a summary of some of those lessons:

  • Focus strongly on developing the deep roots of allegiance within each Partner – become more of a Coalition than a Network, where fundraising should be for joint activities.
  • Focus on the whole Partner organisation, while building capacity in the approach and methodologies of the network.
  • Place the emphasis on processes that generate change over time, not distinct activities.
  • ABN brings a dimension to ‘development work’ that is largely missing from most agencies’ work, creating a greater chance for this work to be sustainable.
  • Innovation and creativity are the keys to ABN’s ongoing development.
  • to be effective ABN depends completely on communication and flow of information, which needs ongoing attention and creativity.
  • A tight-knit pioneering Network/Coalition needs to be made up of strong and active Partners who fulfil the criteria for partnership. Inactive Partners create dead weight and hold the overall partnership back.
  • The primary focus of the Network Secretariat is to facilitate networking – this includes continually making sure Partner organisations understand what it means to be an active network partner.
  • ABN has been very strategic in its lead role to establish AFSA – it can now feed into a continent-wide Network of Networks – a lesson of the power of strategic collaboration.
  • Participation in carefully-selected international events, can increase the network’s profile significantly.
  • For long-term strength, focus on establishing country nodes in the network.
  • Strong involvement of Partners in the governance of any Network/Coalition is crucial to the sense of ownership that is the foundation of any such joint endeavour.

 
 

Peter Kamanda: a Beneficiary Story

Peter Kamanda, a Beneficiary

Peter Kamanda, MEAP contact farmer.

Peter Kamanda is an outgoing farmer with hands-on skills in farming practices, who has benefitted from agro-ecology training by MEAP, an ABN partner in Kenya, and now practises agro-ecological methods on his farm.

After the training, Peter started combining conventional crops such as sweet potatoes, pumpkins, cassava, and sorghum, with indigenous vegetables such as pig weed, black night shade, kale and nderema (Africa spinach) – a system that is serving him well.

He also practises agro-forestry to incorporate tree and crop growing, and to benefit from the synergies between trees and crops like pest control, nutrient cycling, soil fertility management, moisture management and wind control among others, as well as incorporating crops that are less common locally like coffee, pineapples and fruits that give him high yields.

These practices enhance productivity on Peter’s farm even during dry spells, when the farm is green and continues to produce. Other farmers learn from his innovation. With his outgoing character and innovation, MEAP identified him as a contact farmer, so that MEAP training is held on his farm for farmers to get hands-on experience of his methods.

 
 

Good Practise: What ABN Has Done

ABN uses innovative ways to solve the challenges facing Africa through sharing experiences, co-developing methodologies and creating a united African voice.

At a policy level, ABN has used international legal instruments like the Convention on Biological Diversity, United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), International Labour Organisation 169, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) and the Intergovernmental Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services to establish clear recognition of the critical role and value of the Indigenous and Local Knowledge System for informing policy formulation on biodiversity issues, as this knowledge system has evolved over millennia through interacting very closely with Nature.

ABN works to create a united African voice on the continent on bio-cultural diversity issues, and also nurtures alliances with like-minded others by linking the local to global.

At ground level, ABN has pioneered African-centred methodologies for working with communities for the sustainable management of biodiversity and protection of community rights. It uses culturally-centred approaches to Africa’s social and environmental problems through sharing experiences, using diverse methodologies such as community dialogues, nature experiential learning, intergenerational learning and community exchange learning visits.

ABN thus has created a new, very African, approach to sustainability and community resilience, closely linked to traditional practices. The premise is that only by restoring people’s strong and deep sense of connectedness to Nature and all that lies within it will people in Africa find ways to be resilient and to sustain their land and other natural resources.

ABN’s methodologies have been rolled out through its work with its partners. For example, Maendeleo Endelevu Action Program (MEAP) is an ABN Partner in Kenya, which subscribes to the ABN philosophy and principles. MEAP has benefitted from various ABN training and capacity building initiatives.

It applies ABN methods in its work relating to three ABN thematic areas, including Community Ecological Governance (CEG) through promotion of Participatory Forest Management (PFM), which ensures communities living adjacent to government listed forests are involved in co-management of forests.

The process creates opportunity for communities to exercise Community Ecological Governance, revive their Ecological Knowledge Systems and apply those knowledge systems within Participatory Forest Management Plans (PFMP).
 

African Biodiversity Network

Members drawn from the Meru and Tharaka Nithi counties participate in an eco-cultural mapping exercise.

 
 

Good Practice: How ABN Is Working

ABN’s work focuses on four thematic areas, which it promotes through initiatives with its partners. ABN also works to ensure that four cross-cutting issues are systematically addressed in all its areas of work: Gender; Youth; Networking; and Governance.

 
1. Community Ecological Governance & Sacred Territories
 
Since 2009, ABN has supported five partners to consolidate, integrate and further evolve innovative strategies of working with communities on Sacred Natural Sites & Territories and supporting governance systems, with its core methods including:

  • community dialogues to analyse and strengthen relevant traditional ecological knowledge and practices, and build community ecological governance capacity;
  • the creation and use of eco-maps and eco-calendars for agreeing land and biodiversity management and control within communities, and then with local and national governments.

These promote dialogue, analysis and negotiation to identify, agree and implement solutions that increase local ecosystems control and protection, and community rights and responsibilities.

Elders within the community play a vital role in upholding the ecological knowledge and customs practiced over generations which maintain the well-being of Sacred Natural Sites, ecosystems, territories and local communities.

These customary governance systems recognise Sacred Natural Sites and Territories as places where the laws of Earth can be read, and from which customs, spiritual practices and governance systems are derived to protect the territory as a whole. Sacred Natural Sites and Territories are at the heart of ecological, spiritual and cultural practices, and governance systems of indigenous and local communities.

Across Africa they are threatened by destruction from economic and other developments that erode the customary governance systems of their custodial communities, while custodians of sacred sites and elders who hold vital indigenous knowledge are also disappearing.

 
2. Community Seeds & Knowledge
 
The huge push from governments and corporations to use hybrid and genetically-modified seeds which require costly inputs like fertilizers is a common pressure faced by the ABN and the rural communities with whom the partner organisations work. This “Green Revolution” approach is
a) unaffordable to many African farmers who struggle to cope with more extreme drought and flood impacts from climate change,
b) harms biodiversity and
c) concentrates the control of agriculture in corporate hands.

Community Seed and Knowledge is an innovative ABN programme that builds climate resilience through reviving traditional seed diversity and promoting agroecology and local food sovereignty as the most effective and ethical way to feed the growing population and cope with climate change.

It focuses on the central role of indigenous, locally-adapted seed and traditional knowledge, especially women’s knowledge.

 
3. Youth Culture & Biodiversity
 
ABN’s work on Youth, Culture and Biodiversity aims to restore confidence in indigenous ecological knowledge and practices by deepening peoples’ sense of belonging with one another and the earth.

This is achieved by bridging the knowledge gap between elders and youth on indigenous ecological knowledge, and by lobbying for inclusion of this knowledge in school curricula.

For example, Ethiopian and South African government offices are consulting ABN partners to advise on how to integrate traditional ecological knowledge into the school system.
Youth are actively involved in healing ecosystems and in campaigning when degradation happens due to various forces. In Ethiopia, youth who came out of this process are demonstrating leadership in critical positions in various government institutions and universities, because their confidence and their relationship with the earth was strengthened.

In Kenya, MEAP engages youth in agricultural activities and experiential learning in a forest setting, applying ABN methods within the Youth Culture and Biodiversity theme. The activity facilitates inter-generational knowledge transfer for ecological governance and ecological agriculture by enhancing the relevant skills and practices among the youth.

 
4. Strengthening Networking, Communication and Regional Advocacy
For this theme, ABN works through its 36 partners covering western, eastern and southern Africa, as well as strategic and international partners.

 
 

ABN Methodologies Used Across The Four Themes

ABN works to build the capacity of whole partner organisations in the approach and methodologies of ABN, which focus particularly on the following eight methods:

  • Community dialogue – at the heart of ABN processes
  • Experiential learning – for example in a forest setting or at sacred natural sites
  • Eco-cultural mapping and Eco-cultural calendars
  • Earth jurisprudence – humans are part of a wider community of beings and the welfare of each member of that community is dependent on the welfare of the Earth as a whole.
  • Exchange visits – between relevant projects / communities
  • Community research – as a basis for documenting seed knowledge in communities.
  • Inter-generational dialogue – to connect youth with elders.

 
 

Areas of Strategic Emphasis

ABN are strengthening their emphasis on:

1. Capacity building to embed the ABN approach and methodologies deeply into the Partner organisations and into the communities they work with. The aim is to support the emergence of ‘learning centres of Indigenous and Local Knowledge (ILK)’ for the ABN approach and methodologies.
2. ABN as a coalition of Partners.
3. ABN’s cross-cutting issues of Networking, Gender, Youth and Governance.
4. Beginning to spread ABN’s approach and methodologies beyond ABN Partners by establishing carefully planned and managed strategic partnerships, and by producing published and accessible guidelines and case studies on ABN’s approach and methodologies.
5. Working closely with the Alliance for Food Sovereignty in Africa (AFSA), feeding issues and stories from the work of Partners on the ground into AFSA’s continental voice.
6. Establishing ABN country nodes.

In January 2019 ABN was recognised as one of just 15 organisations to receive an Outstanding Practice in Agroecology award from the World Futures Council, out of 77 nominations from 44 countries.

 
 

Permaculture Ethics & Principles in Action

Although not directly involved currently in permaculture education, ABN fully embodies the ethics of Earth Care-People Care-Fair Share, at all levels.

Permaculture principles in action in ABN’s work include:

Design from pattern to detail

  • building capacity to use ABN methodologies across partners;
  • defining the need for pan-African legal recognition through the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights to protect and value indigenous knowledge and sacred sites / territories.

Small and slow solutions
Building on each step and on small successes, both locally, regionally and across Africa.

Integrate rather than segregate
ABN works together with other civil society organisations and networks, creating strength to achieve their mutual goals, for example through AFSA.

Make a small change for the largest effects
Whilst the Resolution 372 is ‘no small feat’, as a single change, secured from within a global human rights system, it can bring huge benefits.

Working With Nature
Valuing and protecting sacred sites and indigenous knowledge that allow individuals and communities to learn direct from nature.

 
 

From Inspiration to Action

ABN is a fantastic example to be inspired by and to learn from, to emulate in your own projects and movements.

Using established systems of international law and human rights to protect indigenous knowledge and sacred sites, and empower community rights from local to national levels; and providing practical training that enables people and communities them to meet their needs more effectively.

 
What experience from ABN could help your project, community or network

a) Link high level working on protecting human rights through international and national law more directly to practical training in agroecology methods, community
resilience and capacity building.

b) Be willing to take on a big vision, big opposition and big challenges like ABN, whether across a continent, nationally, regionally or locally.

c) Identify a set of effective and culturally appropriate methodologies, then building capacity to use these through the network to generate local individual and community benefit.

 
 

The Difference arising from the Lush Spring Prize

ABN is using the £25,000 in funding from the 2018 Established Projects Award to support its work netowrking, campaigning and lobbying to influence policy, regulation and public opinion.

Sacred places have great ecological, socio-cultural and spiritual importance to the communities that live adjacent to them. Winning the Lush Spring Prize funding really means a lot. It means that the work we are doing with communities in Africa to protect these areas to regenerate our biodiversity and ecosystems, really matters globally.

The funding will go a long way to support work on the ground, and lobby for appropriate policy in countries party to the African Union. We would like to really build understanding amongst our partners and lead them in getting their governments to integrate this resolution into the laws of their country, building capacity of custodians, and raising the profile of sacred sites.

The publicity the award comes with will also help in profiling our work at an international level.

Simon Ndonco Mitambo, ABN’s
Regional Programmes Coordinator.

 
 

Legal Status, Structure & Size

ABN became a Trust in 2010. It has a 5-member ABN Board, and an ABN Secretariat of 5. ABN operates as a coalition of its 36 members, working across 12 countries, with active membership emphasised to ensure ABN’s activity is representative.

 
 

Funding, Finance, Resources

ABN receives funding from a variety of sources, for its core activities and partnership projects focused on specific outcomes such as research and publications. The £25,000 Lush Spring Prize Established Project Award was received in 2018.

 
 

Potential Areas for Collaboration with Project

ABN Needs: to make donations to support ABN’s work contact abnsecretariat@africanbiodiversity.org

ABN Offers: ABN publications cover a range of themes including: Seeds; Mining / Extractive Industries; The Network; Agroecology; Culture; GMOs; ABN Principles; Pastoralism; Diversity; Sacred Natural Sites; Biofuels; and Climate Change.

 

  • Community, Landscapes, Networks
  • 2018
  • Influence Award
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Winner

AGROECOPOLIS

Established in February 2017, AGROECOPOLIS is the first Greek grassroots NGO to focus on food sovereignty, access to land and agroecology, and is the product of many years of collaboration.

It’s work involves: supporting networking and skill-sharing amongst agroecological practitioners; participating in research projects with CAWR, FIAN, TNI; helping establish practical land-based projects in Greece.

For example, it has supported a solidarity exports initiative whereby citrus fruits and olive oil are exported to food initiatives in the EU; supporting small agroecological Greek farmers.

AGROECOPOLIS is currently in the process of setting up a Greek Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) Association, and hopes to create an agroecology training centre and revive the Permaculture Caravan.

  • Community, Food, Networks
  • 2018
  • Young Projects
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Alianza Biodiversidad

Alianza Biodiversidad (Biodiversity Alliance) is a collective platform that brings together ten key organisations and movements in Latin America and the Caribbean.

It was born from the convergence of two communications projects: the magazine Biodiversidad, Sustento y Culturas (Biodiversity, Sustenance and Cultures) and the website Biodiversidad en América Latina y el Caribe (Biodiversity in Latin America and the Caribbean), started by Acción por la Biodiversidad.

In the past 24 years, the magazine and website have become key points of reference in defence of rural smallholder food production systems, putting the central focus on the factors most important to their recovery: the defence of the lands, biodiversity and seeds of indigenous and rural people. They also promote agro-ecological farming practices and food sovereignty.

For Alianza Biodiversidad, this task is fundamental to the regeneration of the global ecosystem, as it is the basis for the future possibility of producing food without destroying ecosystems and at the same time is the key to the feeding of humanity.

  • Community, Food
  • 2019
  • Established Projects
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Photo: Alianza Biodiversidad

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Alianza Ceibo

Alianza Ceibo (Ceibo Alliance) is comprised of members from four indigenous nations in the western Amazon that are together building a holistic movement to prevent the destruction of their cultures and rainforest territories.

The Alliance was created in 2014 in response to oil fields polluting local water sources. In the process of building rainwater catchment systems (to store water for irrigation and other uses), they learned of common threats facing them all.

Believing that they are stronger together, Alianza Ceibo started a movement to:

  • Empower communities to defend their territories through land patrols, high-tech monitoring and mapping, legal strategies and media campaigns;
  • Connect youth with their cultural roots, leadership opportunities and each other so they value their identity and their forest and fight to protect it. Indigenous-made films, medicinal plant gardens and ceremonial spaces have been created as part of this work;
  • Create solutions to the destruction of local forests, including building solar energy in communities and the creation of women-led micro-enterprises to promote sustainable economic alternatives to rainforest destruction while preserving endangered food crops and medicinal plants.
  • Community, Landscapes, Networks
  • 2019
  • Young Projects
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American University of Beirut – Nature Conservation Center

Established in 2002, AUB-NCC is a platform for faculty and students across disciplines to engage in human ecology and public participatory approaches towards regenerative socio-environmental change.

Its projects are transdisciplinary in nature, apply innovative digital tools that support collective action and build deep relations among collaborating communities.

AUB-NCC is reviving traditional medicinal plant based knowledge, publishing citizen-friendly guides for diverse entities to enter the circular economy, collaborating with over 100 communities to produce a digital platform for collective eco-cultural protection and rural economic support, supporting eco-entrepreneurs, establishing an Integrative Health MSc and bringing regenerative principles to the Ecosystem Management MSc at AUB.’

  • Energy, Food, Networks
  • 2018
  • Influence Award
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Photo: American University of Beirut – Nature Conservation Center

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Winner

Amrita Bhoomi Peasant Agroecology Centre

Amrita Bhoomi is a peasant agroecology training centre. It was launched in 2013 by Indian farmers to find solutions to the agrarian and ecological crises in India.

Today, most farm soil and food are contaminated, ground water tables are low, and biodiversity is lost, due to oil dependent, chemical, and monoculture farming. On the social front, there is a wave of farmer’s suicides because of indebtedness due to expensive inputs.

Amrita Bhoomi is working to reverse these trends by carrying out trainings for farmers on Zero Budget Natural Farming – a local agroecological method that needs no external inputs, very low water, and relies on natures processes. It has a special focus on youth, and also carry out seed conservation and distribution and climate adaptation.

Download the Amrita Bhoomi case study as a PDF document (774KB)

Project Summary

Project started: 2013
Karnataka State, SW India

Amrita Bhoomi is a centre for training peasant farmers in agroecology and zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) and an established pioneer in the movement for seed sovereignty and food sovereignty, based on agroecological self-reliant farming and rural enterprises. Amrita Bhoomi is La Via Campesina’s agroecology school in South Asia.

 

Key Project Information (at 2018):

  • Climate: about 75% of Karnataka is arid to semi-arid (plateau region), also sub-humid to humid tropical in the Western Ghats and humid tropical monsoon in the coastal plains.
  • Key words: peasant farmers; youth; women; training centre; demonstration farms; farmer-to-farmer training; agroecology; zero budget natural farming (ZBNF).
  • Primary Beneficiaries: peasant farmers, small farmers, and their families and communities; rural youth.
  • Core Education Activity: agroecology & zero budget natural farming (ZBNF).
  • Size: 66 acre training centre and demonstration farms.

 

Amrita Bhoomi’s Mission and Objectives

Amrita Bhoomi’s mission is to create models of rural autonomy and self-respect.

The centre promotes the principles of Swaraj based on food sovereignty, agroecological self-reliant farming, seed sovereignty, and rural enterprises. It envisions a form of development that is socially just, respects Mother Earth, and creates dignity and equality for all.

‘Swaraj’ generally means self-governance or “self-rule” – it lays stress on governance, not by a hierarchical government, but by self governance through individuals and community building. The focus is on political decentralisation, so Swaraj was strongly promoted by Gandhi.

 

The Project’s story

Amrita Bhoomi was conceived during the ‘seed satyagraha’, the Karnataka farmers’ movement’s (KRRS) fight for seed sovereignty against multinational seed companies’ attempts to impose patents on life.

The KRRS dream was not to just keep protesting against things but to create the world it wanted to see. Professor Nanjundaswamy (1936–2004), the leader of KRRS was described as “India’s leading advocate of farmers’ rights”.

To put this vision into practice, he launched the vision of a farmers training center in 2002, named Amrita Bhoomi, the eternal earth – a space for peasants to build models of autonomy, where they can explore how to restructure food production based on appropriate technologies and local exchange networks.

As a Public Charitable Trust, Amrita Bhoomi was first established with the support of the Italian farmers organization, Associazione SUM.

 

Narendra’s Story, a Beneficiary

Narendra’s Story, a Beneficiary

Narendra was a young graphic designer, from a small peasant family but forced to shift to an urban job in the city, with no farming skills. Fascinated by agriculture, he went to Amrita Bhoomi as a volunteer intern for a year and learned how to work the land.

Today, he has restored his one acre farm on the outskirts of Bangalore. Previously used as a dumping yard, with glass shards and syringes still dotting the field, Narendra is now using waste water from buildings around his farm to grow flowers. He’s now also head gardener at an apartment complex, where he grows affordable organic veggies to sell to the residents.

His father thought he was crazy initially – he’s now inspired by his son, and takes care of his field. Narendra sees himself as a lifetime volunteer and supporter of Amrita Bhoomi and is thrilled he could start a new life on the land.

 

Vasantha’s Story – an Amrita Bhoomi Team Member

Vasantha Kumri R (31) is head of the seed program at Amrita Bhoomi. She hails from a village farmer’s family and has stayed put, dedicating her life to education and training for rural communities and youth, strengthening their self reliance via organic farming.

Seeds are the soul of farming,” says Vasantha, “unless we control our own seeds we can never be secure about our food security or our incomes. Farmers should … become self-reliant and independent from expensive corporate inputs. Young people specially should focus on organic farming – unlike chemical farming, which is a road to debt and loans, organic farming is creative …this is the only way to make agriculture attractive for the youth and healthy and chemical free for all consumers, protecting nature and humanity.

At age 20, Vasantha first learned to work with farmers groups at the community level, as a field worker carrying out training and education work to deal with multiple problems like food insecurity and farmer suicides, and helping set up a community level seed bank.

 

Amrita Bhoomi’s Agroecology Education Lessons

Amrita Bhoomi demonstrates the significant value of:

  • A training centre with demonstration farms that delivers agroecology and ZBNF (zero budget natural farming) training for peasant farmers, and that also promotes and enables a philosophy of self-reliance and local self-governance;
  • Delivering state-level mass training camps in zero budget natural farming methods (ZBNF), averaging 1000-6000 farmer participants over 5-7 days including women, men and youth;
  • Linking agroecology training with seed banking & distribution, for practical approaches to generating seed sovereignty and food sovereignty through zero budget natural farming;
  • Providing long term residential internships for young people who are keen to learn agroecology and ZBNF methods.

 

The Changes Achieved (High Level Outputs & Outcomes)

  • It is estimated that 100,000 peasant farmers now practice zero budget natural farming (ZBNF) in Karnataka state as a result of the efforts of the ZBNF movement, of which Amrita Bhoomi is a member and the main training centre in Karnataka state.
  • Many training programmes have been delivered for rural youth, women and men on agroecology and ZBNF methods, agroforestry, seed saving, solar drying/energy sovereignty, gender and agriculture, and other subjects.
  • Over 220 varieties of native seeds have been conserved and are being distributed among farmers.
  • More than 50 long term rural youth interns have lived at Amrita Bhoomi for over six months and learnt how to practice agroecology

 

Good Practise: What Amrita Bhoomi Has Done

At the frontlines of the agroecology movement: Amrita Bhoomi has been promoting ZBNF as one of its key agroecological models. Its training programmes and a variety of model plots created on its campus have made it one of the key spaces for the promotion of ZBNF among its peasant members.

Promoting Zero Budget Natural Farming (ZBNF): KRRS was instrumental in up-scaling the Zero Budget Natural farming (ZBNF) movement in the state of Karnataka.

One of the most successful agroecology movements globally, ZBNF’s leaders claim that millions practice ZBNF at the national level in India, while it is estimated at some 100,000 for Karnataka. Around 60 massive state-level ZBNF training camps have been organised in the last decade, with an average of 1000-6000 farmer participants over 5-7 days including women, men and youth.

Districts self-organize locally to promote ZBNF at the grassroots level, without any formal movement organization, paid staff or even a bank account, as it generates a spirit of volunteerism and enthusiasm among its peasant farmer members.

‘Zero Budget’ means without using any credit or any net spending on purchased inputs. ‘Natural farming’ means farming with Nature and without chemicals. ZBNF advocates see it as a solution to the agrarian crisis and rising trend of farmer suicides in India.

A grassroots approach to seed sovereignty: As part of its “seed satyagraha” (seed sovereignty) struggle that began in the 1992, KRRS and Amrita Bhoomi have been at the frontlines of the movement for local peasant saved seeds and against corporate controlled patented seeds.
Today, one major focus is to conserve drought resistant seed varieties and crops such as millets which are both easier to grow in an increasingly drier, hotter climate, and also have a better nutritional profile than the more widespread water guzzling green revolution crops like rice.

Bringing fundamental social change through education: Training is a fundamental activity for Amrita Bhoomi. There are training programmes for women and men farmers of all ages, and programmes specifically directed at youth. Options for rural youth in the countryside are few, and migration is rampant.

Amrita Bhoomi targets young people who don’t have the necessary skills to work on the land and trains them to create farming models that are economically viable, agroecological, and which provide a dignified life for their families.

Campaigning is linked to basic and in-depth agroecology and ZBNF training, delivered at the Amrita Bhoomi training centre and demonstration farms.

Campaigning is linked to basic and in-depth agroecology and ZBNF training, delivered at the Amrita Bhoomi training centre and demonstration farms.

 

Amrita Bhoomi’s Ways of Achieving Good Practise: How It Is Done

 

Agroecology training centre and model farms

The 66 acre Amrita Bhoomi agroecology training centre in the Biligiri Ranga Hills, is surrounded by three national parks. Along with a number of model agroecology farms, the centre also houses an indigenous seed & livestock bank, a garden conserving medicinal varieties that currently face extinction, an auditorium for 250 people, and a training centre with classrooms and dormitories, with excellent food provided by the centre’s chef.

The model farms are run by peasant youth interns, who each mange them for a couple of years under guidance from expert farmers, in order to acquire practical agroecology skills. Amrita Bhoomi currently has model farms for zero budget natural farming, agroforestry, seed production, rice and millets in drought conditions, oil seeds production, vegetable plots, as well as medicinal plants.

ZBNF ‘toolkit’ and massive ZBNF training camps

The basic ZBNF ‘toolkit’ of methods was put together by Mr Subhash Palekar, an agricultural scientist. Disillusioned by the ill effects of the green revolution on his own family farm, he drew from extensive research and observation of ecological processes and indigenous farming methods during his work in the 1990’s.

Palekar dedicates himself to teaching ZBNF at massive training camps across the country, and is its principal resource person or guru, as ZBNF members call him. Details on core ZBNF methods & practices – La Via Campesina case study on ZBNF in India.

 

Indigenous Seed Bank

To be at the frontlines of biodiversity conservation and against agribusiness’s plans for domination over farmers and nature, Amrita Bhoomi has a fast-growing seed bank that includes at least 100 varieties of rice, 26 varieties of Ragi, 14 varieties of other minor millets, and many vegetable varieties – native seeds are reproduced on seed plots for distribution at nominal prices among farmers. There is also a garden with special local medicinal plants that are endangered and rare.

 

Livestock Bank

A key problem facing India’s livestock sector is a loss of local livestock varieties. The government has promoted crossbreeding with exotic cow varieties, that are unsuitable to the hot, dry Indian climate and which require high inputs and aftercare, medication and water. Meanwhile, India’s diverse local cow breeds (Bos Indicus) are hardier, and require much less aftercare and if bred selectively, some of these varieties are capable of producing a high quality and quantity of milk. If farmers want to buy local varieties (which cost less than the foreign cows), it’s not easy to find them. So Amrita Bhoomi has a small local “livestock bank” with 14 native cows – where it is breeding and reproducing local cow varieties for distribution among farmers, to conserve the disappearing indigenous livestock varieties.

 

Peasant Youth Internships

Rural youth from peasant families are able to manage a small piece of land for a year or two to learn agroecological skills and return as trainers to their communities.

For me being a graphic designer was boring. I sat at a desk all day long and worked for someone else … Going to Amrita Bhoomi and learning the practical skills of farming was one of my greatest life decisions.” Narendra, Bangalore.

 

Millets

The promotion of the ancient grain millet is a key campaign, as millets were largely removed from Indian diets and farms because of the green revolution. Amrita Bhoomi houses a large collection of millet seeds, which it multiplies for distribution among farmers, and holds various workshops to train farmers on millet production – at the end of which farmers are given millet seeds for planting.

The same farmers are invited to attend millet fairs to sell their produce to urban consumers, linking with urban retail groups to carry out direct marketing to consumers. A first millets fair was held in 2017 for a massive seed exchange in various districts of Karnataka, working with the state government.

 

Amrita Bhoomi Training Programs

There are short courses (1-2 days) and in-depth courses over a couple of months. These are mostly taught in collaboration with allied teachers, trainers, local NGOs and peasants. Farmer-to-farmer training is a key method used for some of the agroecology courses, where experienced farmers share their knowledge with other farmers, who then engage in a collective reflection as part of the learning process.

These courses can take place on the Amrita Bhoomi campus, or also on farmers’ fields. Some of the key training topics include agroecology practices and theory, alternative economies/markets, agroforestry, seed saving, value addition, renewable energy, climate resistant peasant crops like millets, gender and agriculture, and a history of peasant movements among others.

 

Beyond Technical Education

Courses are both technical and philosophical/ideological. Major issues addressed, especially among the youth, include understanding their society, their role as farmers, caste, class, gender, religion and power relations.

They learn practical farming skills, to put them into practice back home, and to be inspired to slowly make changes to their realities. Practicing agroecological farming on their land, backed up by a more critical understanding of rural reality, helps to put in perspective the importance of their organized efforts.

 

Future areas of interest:

  • Rural Enterprises – a rural enterprise training center is planned for women, men and young farmers to set up self-help groups, local cooperatives and collective production models – for peasant families to improve processing and marketing, and to add value to their raw produce. Pilot efforts underway include producing jaggery (a local type of brown sugar), with many possibilities such as oils, pickles, ghee, and handloom products among others.
  • Green School – primary and high school for rural children providing free education, with an aim of fighting rampant child labour in the area. Many impoverished children work in the silk industry and for food. Amrita Bhoomi hopes to provide free meals to all such children and involve in them in its educational projects.

 

OUTCOMES Achieved

  • Small farmers create more resilient food growing systems, are more financially self-reliant and more self-organising to meet their needs.
  • Farmers are able to save seed and apply ZBNF methods effectively, improving their livelihood and their family’s food security in so doing;
  • Peasant farmer suicide rates are greatly reduced.

 

Permaculture Principles & Design in Action

Amrita Bhoomi demonstrates the successful development of ‘relevantto-user’ agroecology education and demonstration, in the most relevant physical context, listening and responding to local needs.

Relative Location: combining work on seed sovereignty and practical agroecology methods, enables two key issues to be co-located, with mutual benefits to peasant farmers by doing so, which enables more dynamic, effective and creative sharing of best practice through farmer to farmer training.

Small change for big effects: by organising mass training camps, while this is no small challenge it means that one single training event can create massive benefits for many people.

Permaculture Principles in Action: multifunction; multi-supply; relative location; observe & interact.

 

From Inspiration to Action

The Amrita Bhoomi focus on ZBNF with a practical toolkit, with farmer-to-farmer training, mass training camps, and the inclusion of training on philosophy and ideology creates highly effective systems of education-for-action tailored to men, women and youth, which have multiplied and grown the diversity of beneficial impacts they produce.

What experience from Amrita Bhoomi could help your project, community or network in relation to:

a) Linking basic permaculture design education more directly to practical training in agroecology methods, such as the ZBNF toolkit?

b) Training young people and small farmers to be teachers, alongside the creation of demonstration plots that relate to local and social needs of your region?

c) Project development and evolution, and scaling-up practical training in valuable ways at the local level?

 

The Difference arising from the Lush Spring Prize

A great dream of Amrita Bhoomi and KRRS that is slowly coming true has been to have a public policy on Zero Budget Natural Farming in Karnataka and across India.

The neighbouring state, Andhra Pradesh, launched a policy recently to scale up ZBNF among 500,000 farmers. It supports ZBNF as a solution to farmer suicide, and works through grassroots farmer institutions and farmer to farmer training.

Amrita Bhoomi and allies in Karnataka held several meetings with officials in the state to have a similar initiative in Karnataka. Great news arrived in June 2018 when the Karnataka government also announced an investment in ZBNF.

The Lush Spring Prize funds also arrived in June! So Amrita Bhoomi’s next steps are to use the funds to join others in the ZBNF movement to support the government policy, monitor its impacts and work to expand the scaling up through civil society efforts.

“The Zero Budget Natural Farming policy is such a lovely policy that is based on farmer initiatives, and when the state puts its weight behind agroecology then a lot can be achieved,” explains Chukki Nanjundaswamy, the Karnataka State Farmers Movement (KRRS) president and Amrita Bhoomi’s coordinator.

 

Potential Areas for Collaboration with Project (Local, Regional, National or International)

Project Needs: Food processing and marketing. Amrita Bhoomi is looking to establish various processing units run by enterprises of rural women and youth using local produce. Processing can include production of food, cosmetics, fibre, etc.

Project Offers: Amrita Bhoomi welcomes groups looking to learn Zero Budget Natural Farming & seed saving techniques.

 

 

Legal Status, Structure & Size

Amrita Bhoomi is a registered Trust under the Indian Trusts Act. It has a team of 20 volunteer staff, including a coordination
team, seed team, training team and youth interns.

 

Funding, Finance, Resources

Amrita Bhoomi was originally launched with the support of the Italian farmers organization, Associazione SUM. It received a
further grant from the Karnataka State government in 2013. Since then, Amrita Bhoomi has received some small donations,
the Lush Spring Prize (2018, Influence Award), and it is also earning from production on its farms.

 

  • Food, Water
  • 2018
  • Influence Award
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Apthapi Comunidades del Vivir Bien

Apthapi Comunidades del Vivir Bien believes that we live in a time of imbalance between human beings, and between the latter and nature, such that our very existence is in danger.

It suggests that we need to regenerate and restore ways in which we can relate and coexist for greater natural and social equilibrium.

This gave birth to the idea of creating a space where it can teach and show that Vivir Bien (living well) is possible; a space where it can raise new generations that learn to respect and care for a more balanced way of life, known as the “Escuela del Vivir Bien” (School of living well).

The School is a new initiative of four organisations that are combining their experiences: Flor de Leche, Inti Phajsi, Casa Espejo and Wayna Tambo, and is carried out in the districts of Achocalla, El Alto and La Paz in Bolivia.

It will be used by groups of people organised under a collective, institution or association that can learn and then implement the proposed curriculum in their territories.

  • Community, Networks
  • 2019
  • Intentional Projects
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ARCAH.org

ARCAH ‘The Association of Rescue of Citizenship Through Affection Towards Humanity’ – was founded in 2013 by a group of young people from the city of São Paulo that wanted to act at the root cause of homelessness, poverty and scarcity in urban centers.

After years of taking food and clothing to people living in the streets, the group decided to act at another level, bringing permaculture and other abundant based concepts to help create permanent change.

ARCAH is now building a new farm near the city, to rescue and shelter more homeless people, and creating new urban farms in downtown São Paulo, turning public and private spaces into organic permaculture farming spots inside the city.

ARCAH’s future plans is to expand both urban and rural farms, so that people that suffer the most from lack of employment, resources and quality of life can change their destiny into an abundant one.

  • Community, Food, Housing
  • 2017
  • Young Projects
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  • Portuguese
  • http://www.arcah.org/
  • Rua Francisco Dias Velho, 1008, São Paulo, São Paulo 04581-001, Brazil

Autonome Heilschule Wendland

The “Autonome Heilschule Wendland” is a project in creation.

We want to establish a healing school, where people can self-study or attend daily classes, that is open for everyone that wants to learn about alternative medicine and treatments, to find individual approaches to their health. It is a place for support and exchange with a medicinal garden, apothecary, movement room and more.

We will organise regular courses and workshops to facilitate the transmission of knowledge from specialists to the people, regardless of their income, background and identities.

  • Community
  • 2017
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  • German, English
  • Grieboer Dorfstr. 7, Lutherstadt Wittenberg, Sachsen-Anhalt 06886, Germany

Be-incO

Be-in-cO stands for BEleif and BEing present, INspiration, INnovation and INterconnectedness, and for COmmunication, COcreation and COmmunity.

We facilitate transformative workshops to enable individuals, communities and organizations to realize their collective intelligence and co-create positive change.

We combine our expertise in social entrepreneurship and facilitation with the most innovative participatory methodologies and provide teams with alternative tools that are extremely precious in our chaotic, fast-changing world.

We work with cross-sector change makers and social entrepreneurs, social and humanitarian organizations, disadvantaged populations, volunteers, educators, communities and the business sector. We consider what we do to be the regeneration of human connection.

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  • 2017
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Benaa organization

Benaa aims to empower Arabian youth to build sustainable development projects, and create an interactive enabling environment in the MENA region.

These projects cover:

  1. Ecological Sustainability: controlling water and air pollution, and solid waste management
  2. Food and Agriculture: organic farming, food waste reduction, and local food production
  3. Education: raising awareness of sustainable development
  4. Urbanism and Architecture: including reconstructing inadequate rural and urban settlements
  5. Information and Communications Technology
  6. Social Development: to improve the life standards of rural and poor communities
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  • 2017
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Bioregional Learning Centre

The Bioregional Learning Centre sits amongst a network of local people and organisations in South Devon where community innovation, local economics, and regeneration of place is already happening.

Our work is aimed at increasing the scale, pace and efficacy required to make this happen.

The region has the potential to become a centre of excellence in the UK, known for examples where we have changed our relationships with food, water, energy, soil, waste, ecology and economy, seen over time as an interrelated system.

We build partnerships and work in collaborative project teams to design and implement solutions to regional wellbeing and sustainability. Using best practice techniques for creative engagement we organise design days, get projects off the ground, hold the whole picture, connect people to each other and people to place.

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  • 2017
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Blueprint

Blueprint is an international alliance and network of individuals, small businesses and not-for-proft organisations, that collaborate on developing integrated design solutions for regenerative human settlements. It partners with communities and organisations to develop, research and promote regenerative principles and practices.

It’s currently working on ‘Blueprint200’ – a design framework, demonstration site and sharing resource for creating regenerative refugee camps that meet and go beyond current humanitarian SPHERE standards. It has visited refugee sites and interviewed refugees, aid and social workers, permaculturists and more. In 2017 it developed the first version of a framework that includes design principles, a regenerative continuum and a pattern language for refugee camps.

  • Community, Energy, Food, Housing, Water
  • 2018
  • Young Projects
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Brickify

Brickify recycles plastic waste bags into building bricks and lumber that are used to construct roads and build low-cost housing in Nigeria. It collects plastic waste dumped in drains, gutters and water ways and repurpose them to beautify the environment.

It also uses an inclusive model to collect its waste, whereby it rewards participating households and community members in cash or in kind as long as they submit the required level of waste.

The idea is motivated by the huge plastic waste problem in its communities. This problem leads to flooding, destroys the environment, harbours disease and causes other sorts of havoc.

Its bricks are durable, cheap, water and fire resistant, eco-friendly and heat resistant. They are available for sale to members of the public, but the project’s aim is to use them to build low-cost housing for the less privileged and homeless at a very cheap rate. There’s no need for cement to build the houses because they are used in a Lego like form.

  • Community, Housing
  • 2019
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Byspokes.org

Byspokes’ journey began in 2010, when Philip Jones and Lorena Viladomat embarked on a cycle-ride from the UK to Palestine to fundraise for a new aquaculture program in the area, and raise awareness of Palestine’s water crisis. They joined Alice Gray at Bustan Qaraaqa (a permaculture farm in Bethlehem) and built the first aquaponics system in the West Bank, going on to implement many more projects with various partners in the region.

In 2013, Alice, Phil and Lorena formalised their partnership, creating a platform to raise awareness of permaculture as a strategy for community development, and creating a repository for their shared experience. Byspokes now works globally, supporting communities to revitalise ailing environments; sustainably enhance food and water justice for all, and reconnect with nature.

  • Community, Food, Networks, Water
  • 2018
  • Young Projects
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Calderdale Bootstrap

Calderdale Bootstrap is a group of social entrepreneurs, co-operators, activists and changemakers, looking to engage our community in the upper Calder Valley to co-create our next economy.

We aim to build on the history of mutual self-help in our valley; work with our existing social enterprise and take it up a gear. We will inspire and directly support the next generation of enterprises to help create a more vibrant and more resilient solidarity economy, with real livelihoods, community commonwealth, and the ability to thrive in the challenging times ahead as the current economic system unravels.

Another Economy is Possible.

  • Community
  • 2017
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Center for Justice and human Rights in the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (CEJUDHCAN)

Started in 2003, CEJUDHCAN secures indigenous land rights and promotes sustainable land management with communities on Nicaragua’s Atlantic Coast. CEJUDHCAN was part of the team that led the process granting legal control of native lands to natives.

The Miskito communities have been frequently attacked by armed settlers, so many feel unsafe farming at a distance from their homes. CEJUDHCAN trains Miskito women in bio-intensive agriculture so they can farm safely in the smaller areas close to their homes. The agroecology training and materials provide critical food security allowing people to stay on their traditional lands while fighting for their land rights in national and international courts.

Download the CEJUDHCAN case study as a PDF document (784kb)

What is CEJUDHCAN?

CEJUDHCAN is a not-for-profit profit, NGO that provides educational programs, legal support and practical assistance to indigenous peoples and afro-descendant communities on the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua.

CEJUDHCAN assists these often threatened communities with confirming and protecting their communal land rights, and their rights for self-determination and autonomous governance. This includes a focus on identification and titling of communal lands and indigenous territories, linking this to practical training in participation and agroecology.

 

Key Project Information (at 2018)

Organisation name: Center for Justice and Human Rights of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua.
Location: Caribbean coastal territories of Nicaragua.
Climate: predominantly tropical.
Key words: indigenous land rights; women; youth; bio-intensive agriculture/agroecology.
Primary Beneficiaries: indigenous and african-descendant peoples and communities; women; youth.
Core education activity: indigenous and ethnic peoples’ rights; women’s empowerment and participation; youth leadership; bio-intensive agriculture.
Reach: 124 communities, across 9 local government districts.

 

CEJUDHCAN’s Goals

Vision: The Indigenous Peoples and ethnic communities of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua enjoy free determination and guarantee of their individual and collective rights, with gender and generational equity and with access to social, economic and environmental justice in the defence and protection of their territories.

Mission: Facilitate and contribute to territorial governance, justice and environmental safety of indigenous peoples and ethnic communities of the Caribbean Coast, through actions that promote and ensure the protection of collective rights, and the enjoyment of their natural resources with gender and generational equity.

 

 

CEJUDHCAN’s Education Lessons

The importance of combining:

  • high level work to confirm and protect indigenous peoples’ rights to land through international courts and national law;
  • practical training on bio-intensive agriculture, women’s empowerment and youth leadership.

 

High Level Outputs & Outcomes

  • 325 Indigenous and afro-descendant communities, belonging to 23 territories on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua, have won their communal land title through Law No. 445, The Law of the Communal Property Regime of the Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Communities of the Atlantic Coast Autonomous Regions of Nicaragua and of the Coco, Indio and Maiz Rivers.
  • Law 445 defines the legal mechanisms necessary for recognising and creating the entities that will provide follow-up and lead the process. There is a crosscutting precept in the law requiring a search for equitable processes for the region’s population
  • November 2013, the legal procedure manual for Law 445 was agreed with the 23 territorial governments, communal authorities, State institutions (National Police, National Army, Public Registry of Real Property, Supreme Court of Justice, CONADETI, Attorney General of the Republic at the Regional level) and Civil Society.
  • Law No. 392 for promotion of the comprehensive development of youth, to be implemented as a norm for the Wangki Maya Territory.

 

photo

CEJUDHCAN’s work links high level legal, policy and implementation work to on-the-ground practical training.

 

CEJUDHCAN’s early and current story

In 1997, the International Human Rights Law Group created an office in the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua with the objective of strengthening local action and supporting activists in defense and promotion of their human rights.

Their mandate was established in September 2003 through a transition to create a local NGO called the Center for Justice and Human Rights of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua (CEJUDHCAN) with a focus on protection and promotion of the rights of Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Communities of the Caribbean Coast of Nicaragua.

CEJUDHCAN has achieved significant outcomes since 2003, yet its continuing work is as critically important now as it was then. In the last three years illegal settlers, known as ‘colonos’, are accused of carrying out armed attacks on at least 12 Indigenous communities that resulted in at least 34 Indigenous people being murdered, 44 physically injured, 22 abducted and four people reported as missing, plus homes and crops being burnt to the ground, and forest-fires, started maliciously, displacing entire communities.

International corporations are also said to be systematically wreaking ecological damage that is severely impacting the communities’ land and natural resources including government-backed projects in mining, monoculture farming, hydroelectric dams and the controversial interoceanic canal that is planned to cut through the country to link the Atlantic and Pacific.

 

Massive deforestation, plus the destruction and contamination of the water resources, is compromising the integrity of the territories’ natural resources and the cultural survival of the Indigenous communities … mega-project initiatives, often pushed by international investors, represent a new form of colonisation.

To gain full compliance with the laws that protect Indigenous rights, especially the territorial rights, indigenous governance and management of their natural resources for the benefit of the communities and their residents, we have demanded the Nicaragua State complete the Saneamiento, which means clearing the land of third parties, both illegal settlers and unsanctioned companies, which is the final phase of the titling process. The Government has blocked the implementation of this final step, so thus our struggle continues.

photo

Lottie Cunningham Wren, attorney and founder of CEJUDHCAN.

 

Zayda Perez: a Beneficiary Story

Zayda Pérez, originally from the indigenous community of Uhry, Municipality of Waspam Río Coco. Zayda states that the most significant change for her is the strengthening of her capacity as a young leader, who now stands out in defence of the rights of children, adolescents and young people:

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Before I did not know the rights of women … Now we know our rights, we know the mechanisms of how to defend and have our rights respected. We participate … so that justice is done in the face of any type of violence and we make an impact when we visit the city of Waspam to defend our rights.”

In the community … when a project is executed for the common good, the leaders and authorities give us space to work with them, where we take care of the supervision to guarantee that the project is carried out properly. Currently, in our community a nice school is being built and at the end of the work, there will be a saving … [and] the community will decide its [own] investment.

 

Sedy Pitanel’s Story – Community of Saklin

I have never had the opportunity to work with orchards at my home before, only working at large farms. I am happy with my garden. I take care of it as if it were a precious possession. I dedicate exclusive time for the garden every day and the produce that I get from my garden has changed my way of life. My food is more nutritious and I have knowledge of how to make my garden productive.

photo

Sedy Pitanel, 63 years old from the community of Saklin.

Sedy was one of 50 indigenous women trained by CEJUDHCAN to establish mixed vegetable gardens in the communities of Bilwaskarma, Saklin and Tuskru Sirpi of the Wangki Maya Territory.

 

Good Practise: What CEJUDHCAN Has Done

CEJUDHCAN’s education and training activity has focused on:

  • Indigenous peoples and ethnic communities’ rights
  • Womens equality, empowerment and participation in community, legal and governmental processes
  • Youth leadership programmes
  • Bio-intensive agriculture training for women

 

In more detail:

  • CEJUDHCAN is battling for the peoples’ land rights in national and international courts – at the request of 23 Indigenous Territorial Governments and people of African descent, CEJUDHCAN and a consortium of civil society organizations has created a forum for dialogue between the indigenous leaders and regional authorities, including agreed processes for securing their territorial rights.
  • Improving the situations of indigenous women within their homes, communities and territories: supported by CEJUDHCAN’s work, indigenous women have moved into decision-making positions in community activity and territorial government and have shown their ability to promote issues of importance to their communities to organizations, institutions and the authorities, for the benefit of their community.
  • CEJUDHCAN is training Miskito women, who felt unsafe farming at a distance from their homes, in bio-intensive agriculture (agroecology methods) so they can work safely on smaller lots of land closer to the community. They delivered to the women tools, tubers, vegetable seeds and training on how to establish home gardens. There are now more than 100 family gardens in seven communities of the Wangki Maya Territory.
  • With the support of Diakonia and the European Union, CEJUDHCAN developed a training program for 50 young people (27 women and 23 men) on decision-making structures and processes, including democratic leadership with a gender perspective, social auditing methods and the forming of and discussion of Agendas and Risk Plans.

Among CEJUDHCAN’s most important initiatives are that it has:

  • Led a Caribbean Coast region and national campaign to denounce the presence of national and international private sector companies that have demonstrated bad practices in the exploitation of natural resources.
  • Organized and run a space for civil society to monitor legislative compliance on the collective rights of indigenous peoples, within regulations on the Observance of the Autonomy, to put pressure on public institutions to advance the agreed legal process of removing illegal settlers from indigenous territories.

 

CEJUDHCAN’s Ways of Working

CEJUDHCAN has facilitated this process through complementary actions that work together to effect change, such as:

Women

  • Providing training to women, especially young women, in how to overcome conditions of inequality in their community and family
  • Raising awareness within communal and territorial authorities of the importance of including women in decision-making bodies
  • Training in developing home gardens as a strategy to reduce intra-familiar violence and a vehicle for women’s economic independence.

 

Communities

  • Raising awareness of ways to increase economic independence for individuals and communities
  • Providing information about communal land rights and strategies for defense of these rights

Youth

  • Facilitated workshops in all aspects of community leadership
  • Distributed workbooks and information on communal land rights and demarcation of territorial land boundaries
  • Training on asserting human / communal rights in defence of indigenous territory

 

In particular, CEJUDHCAN has achieved these outcomes by:

  • Collaborating with other civil society organisations
  • Working through the Inter-American Court for Human Rights
  • Targeting its efforts at key groups, including: 124 community governments, in 9 district governments (covering 124 communities).

Ongoing Challenges: among the challenges faced are advancing full implementation of and compliance with Law 445, such as:

  • Completing the removal of illegal settlers to complete the titling process, which is complex due to the number of unlawful settlers in the territories and, in most cases, their lack of recognition of indigenous and afro-descendants rights and the representative organisations of these communities.

 

A major fear of some communities is that, despite having legal titles, they will not be able to exercise their rights of possession and use, to manage their territories and resources. They point to the need for state policies that support: programs of co-management of protected areas; transparency in financial transfers; phased removal of illegal settlers; financial support for the territories and their communities to develop sustainable programs; and development of communities’ negotiating skills.

CEJUDHCAN works to ensure that public institutions implement the legal basis and process for removing illegal settlers from indigenous territories, in a definitive and lasting manner. This requires territorial restructuring by the State of Nicaragua, in accordance with the requirements established by Article 59 of Law 445. Until now, the Government has progressed the defining and titling of these territories, but not an interagency strategy to conclude the legalization of the territories of Indigenous and African Descent Peoples.

 

OUTCOMES Achieved

CEJUDHCAN programmes have strengthened community leadership capacities for understanding and adopting the legal framework that supports the territorial rights of indigenous peoples and peoples of African descent, to enable them to be more effective in their engagement with public institutions and other social actors.

Awas Tingni Legal Victory

In August 2001 CEJUDHCAN, together with other NGOs, attained a judgment in favour of the community of Awas Tingni vs State of Nicaragua, through the Inter-American Court’s human rights system. This importat judgment concluded that the State of Nicaragua had violated the rights of the Awas Tingni Mayangna community, by granting a concession for the exploitation of forest resources in their traditional territory, without the prior consent and by neglecting the constant demands of the Awas Tingni community for the demarcation of their territory.

CEJUDHCAN facilitated the negotiation between the Awas Tingni community and the State of Nicaragua, for the implementation of the Court ruling, and legally represented the community of Awas Tingni to the State of Nicaragua, to design a proposal for the process of defining and titling of the territory of AMASAU.

The judgment resulted in the creation of a mechanism for defining and titling of indigenous territories in the Autonomous Regions of Nicaragua: Law No. 445, The Law of the communal ownership of Indigenous Peoples and Ethnic Communities of the Autonomous Regions of the Atlantic Coast of Nicaragua and the Bocay, Coco, Indio and Maiz rivers. The judgment established the need for the Nicaraguan State to adopt a law that creates procedures to define boundaries and entitle indigenous lands traditionally occupied by these Peoples, to effectively protect their communal property.

Law No. 445 was adopted in 2003. This Law reflects the way in which the collective lands are owned and occupied by indigenous communities and afro-descendent, under a Community scheme in accordance with their customs and traditions, for the collective management of future generations. Law 445 recognizes the traditional communal authorities and provides them with a leading role in the process of defining the boundaries of their traditional communal lands.

 

Permaculture Ethics & Principles in Action

Although it is currently not directly involved in permaculture education, CEJUDHCAN fully embodies the ethics of Earth Care, People Care and Fair Share, from local to national levels.

Permaculture principles in action in CEJUDHCAN’s work include:

Design from pattern to detail – understanding the need for legal recognition and frameworks at global region level through the Inter-American Human Rights Court that enable indigenous and ethnic communities to protect and secure their rights at the local level.

Small and slow solutions – building on each step and on small successes, locally, regionally and in the Latin- American global region.

Integrate rather than segregate – CEJUDHCAN works together with other civil society organisations, creating strength to achieve their mutual goals.

Make a small change for the largest effects – whilst the law on indigenous peoples’ land rights is ‘no small feat’, as a single change, secured from within a global human rights system, it can bring potentially huge benefits.

 

From Inspiration to Action

CEJUDHCAN should be a fantastic example to the permaculture world, inspiring us to learn from its example. We can be inspired and seek to emulate in our own projects and movements:

  • an organisation and movement using established systems of international law and human rights to protect and empower community rights from local to national levels;
  • providing practical training to women and young people that enables them to meet their needs more effectively.

What experience from CEJUDHCAN could help your project, community or network:

a) Linking high level working on protecting human rights through international and national law more directly to practical training in agroecology methods?

b) Training young people and women to participate in local and regional decision making and local government systems?

c) Like CEJUDHCAN, being willing to take on a big vision, big opposition and big challenges, whether nationally, regionally or locally?

 

The Difference arising from the Lush Spring Prize

CEJUDHCAN is using the £25,000 in funding from the Established Projects Award to address food and water security issues, advance ecological conservation and help complete the final phase of titling, to see the communities given the rights to their land and boundaries set.

Both financially and in terms of the wider sense of recognition and support, the Prize helps CEJUDHCAN in its continual work in the Atlantic coast region of Nicaragua to:

a) establish the legal basis and process for securing idigenous peoples’ land rights;

b) to maintain bottom-up and top-down pressure for the full implementation of the laws to protect these rights; and

c) to deliver training and information which enables indigenous and Africandescent peoples to be more effective in ensuring that their rights and needs are met, whether that be through women’s and young people’s participation in local decision making, or through growing healthy organic food close to home.

To support and keep up to date with CEJUDHCAN’s work, visit the centre’s website at www.cejudhcan.org

 

Legal Status, Structure & Size

Project start date: 2003

CEJUDHCAN is a registered Nicaraguan NGO who mission is to advance the human and ecological rights of indigenous Nicaraguans. It is an indigenous
and women-led organization comprised of twelve staff, including five lawyers.

 

Funding, Finance, Resources

CEJUDHCAN is funded by international foundations, partner organizations, generous individuals and awards – such as the LUSH Spring Prize – who believe in the rights of indigenous people to their ancestral lands and as the guardians of the remaining tropical forests. CEJUDHCAN was a Lush Spring Prize Established Project Award winner (£25,000) in 2018.

 

Potential Areas for Collaboration with Project

Project Needs: donations to support CEJUDHCAN’s work at: www.cejudhcan.org

Collaboration Opportunities: seeking international partners who can contribute work, wisdom and funding to the legal, landscape and leverage strategies that indigenous Nicaraguan communities are employing to secure their future. Specifically, we seek partners to assist with web development, communications, radio programming, photo and video documentation, legal and financial research, and much more. Please contact us if you would like to discuss a collaboration.

 

  • Community, Food, Landscapes
  • 2018
  • Established Projects
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Communities in Transition – Tackling fuel poverty

In Hungary and the rest of Europe Roma people are one of the largest and most discriminated minorities and predominantly live in extreme poverty, geographically segregated.

Among many hardships poor housing conditions and lack of adequate heating during winter are some of the largest difficulties they face.

Eco-solutions can be cost effective and achievable with local resources and hence crucial for families with unpredictable incomes. Unfortunately few technological solutions are designed specifically for people living in extreme poverty in Europe.

Our work challenges this; we are developing affordable and efficient stoves, insulation and fuel programs in collaboration with local communities.

  • Community, Energy
  • 2017
  • Intentional Projects
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Photo: Communities in Transition – Tackling fuel poverty

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Community Forest Pemba (CFP)

Climate change has been making life on Pemba Island, part of the Zanzibar Archipelago, more and more precarious. Community Forests Pemba has been innovating ways of living and working that combat poverty and inequality while also increasing resilience.

All its activities are designed to regenerate the natural systems that people rely on. Inspired by both permaculture and agroforestry, CFP has created The Spice Forest. The polyculture approach of this project combines natural forest restoration with climate-smart spice farming and provides an important stream of income for the community. The forest is run by a farmer-owned co-operative established by CFP.

They have planted over two million trees; converted over 150 hectares of degraded land; and trained over 10,000 rural farmers and women in regenerative livelihoods. They also run a Rural Innovation Campus dedicated to regenerative solutions to climate change, where people from around the world come to learn from grassroots leaders in Pemba.

  • Community, Food, Landscapes
  • 2019
  • Established Projects
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Photo: Community Forest Pemba (CFP)

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