Strengthening Representative Institutions in Peru
Strengthening the FERIAAM
The Awajun communities live in the San Marin region of Peru, they traditionally live off of products they collect naturally from the forests they live in. However, in the past few decades, migrants from other areas of Peru have encroached on their land and have started cutting down large tracts of rainforest to grow their crops. This is putting a huge strain on Awajun livelihoods as well as affecting the local environment as soil is being degraded and water is being contaminated. Practical Action has been working to develop the capacities of indigenous Awajun communities to influence policies through organizational strengthening, renewing legitimate leadership, and facilitating better communication with the indigenous movement in Peru in order to make Awajun communities resilient to change and lessen environmental degradation.
The FERIAAM (Regional Indigenous Awajun Federation of Alto Mayo) is comprised of Awajun leaders. They have joined together in order to overcome the multiple pressures on their indigenous livelihoods which have traditionally been as hunter gatherers. These pressures include illegal invasion from settlers, illegal logging cartels, pressure from oil companies for access to their land and uncontrollable tenants with unsustainable farming practices. Practical Action is working with these Awajun leaders to enable them to be able to negotiate with these actors on their own terms, both to benefit from the development process without being exploited and also to ensure the native fauna and floras the Awajun depend upon are not destroyed in the process.
Achievements to date have included the production of a database of tenants on Awajun land, so that the Awajun can keep track of what is happening and the signing of a declaration by all Awjaun leaders on their responsibilities as leaders to ensure better agricultural practices, land management and anti corruption principles so that all of their communities will benefit from land leasing. Training has also been given on auditing and financial accounting to enable local community organisations to use their resources more effectively.
The FARIAAM has also been successful in negotiating with the regional government of San Martin and the local district of Moyobamba over the issue of land invasion. After 20 years of increasing pressures on their land and livelihoods in which the local authorities have only exasperated, the Awajun federation as a collective organisation has been able to make demands for the authorities to act on the issue of land invasion. The meeting, which took place in August 2011 resulted in local authorities sending inspectors to Awajun areas in order to ensure settlers were not damaging the environment. If they are found guilty of environmental damage then this would ensure other settlers in the area start respecting local land management practices and will convert the settlers into tenants of the Awajun with stricter natural resource management regulations.