How to support indigenous communities in Bolivia and Paraguay?
Corona is everywhere. As the virus rages over the world, it spreads even in the most remote places. Such as semi-isolated communities in the middle of nature in Paraguay and Bolivia, for instance. We have been working together with these indigenous communities for several years, and also support them in these difficult times.
In our SRJS programme in South America, we cooperate closely with local governments and park rangers in Paraguay and Bolivia to invest their needs. Most municipalities, especially those of indigenous communities, completely locked themselves from the outside world to prevent the virus reaching them. In the Bahía Negra district in Paraguay this lockdown works quite well as the villages already are self-sufficient. During the annual rainy season many areas here become secluded from the outside world. However, when those rainy periods are long, they suffer from lack of food and medicine as well.
Funding for food and medicine
Unfortunately, there are other villages where the virus has hit. For instance in the Charagua region in Bolivia and also the communities in the area of Roboré have been affected by Covid 19. Their own budgets for emergency relief had already been spent during the heavy forest fires last year where many people lost everything they had. So we allocated extra funding for them, mainly for food. As in the cities many people have been hoarding supplies, there were not enough food convoys to provide for the more remote areas.
In Paraguay, we supported our partner communities with hand washing sets and hygiene packs, like soap and face masks. Our local partner PCI will facilitate trainings on how to prevent contamination.
Another form of support is the restauration of community antennas that were hit by lightning. Since most places are really located in the middle of nowhere, they don’t have any cellphone reception, let alone connection to the internet. With these antennas the villagers can reach out for help when needed.
In Paraguay, the antennas are also being used for radio transmission. Many remote communities fully rely on news and messages they receive by listening to a local radio station. We supported our local partner EcoPantanal who manages a radio station where they spread environmental news, information and education. Securing this important way of communication is an investment in the long term in the wellbeing of these communities. This will make a big difference for them, now in this terrible pandemic and in the upcoming forest fire season as well.
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With SRJS, we support and strengthen local NGOs and civil society organisations in 16 countries, so that we can safeguard water supply, climate resilience and food security together with governments and companies. We also ensure that these organisations work together to become stronger.