CESE and COIAB begin one more cycle of institutional strengthening for indigenous organizations with 19 selected associations

Nineteen more associations from the Brazilian Amazon are taking part in an Institutional Strengthening activity for Indigenous Organizations promoted by CESE in partnership with COIAB – the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônia Brasileira) and DH Advocacia (both in Portuguese). The first meeting was held virtually on 21 September.

This new stage involves organizations spread across eight different states – Amazonas, Amapá, Acre, Maranhão, Tocantins, Mato Grosso, Rondônia and Roraima.  This is the project’s fourth call to participate. The three first resulted in support to 54 organizations located in 26 COIAB operational bases and 69 indigenous lands.

The project works with organizations that face various problems – these could be financial in nature or they might be unable to access public funding because, for example, they do not fulfil accounting or legal compliance.  The project will provide legal advice, contact with training and support to projects.

The associations will participate in three legal training activities, roundtable conversations, dialogue about accountancy, drafting projects and so forth.  One of the first activities will include a self-evaluation of each organization’s specific features – such as communication, internal/external organization.  The next meeting will be held on 28 September.

The initiative’s main aim is to strengthen indigenous organizations so that they can enter into contracts, receive and undertake the direct and autonomous management of funds aimed at the territorial and environmental management of their lands.  The project also receives support from the  ICS – Institute for Climate and Society (Instituto Clima e Sociedade) (in Portuguese) and the Ford Foundation.

Manoel Chorimpa, a member of the Association for the Community Development (Associação de Desenvolvimento Comunitário: ASDEC) of the Marubo People of Alto Rio Curuçá, noted that participation in the project provides an opportunity to encourage his responsibility towards an association that has value and history.

“It gives me more responsibility in terms of attention to the functioning of an association that always seeks to work with its members and focus on improving conditions, on safety for the people and the continuity of cultural life as an essential element for the survival of present and future generations,” Manoel declared.

Vinicius Benites Alves, CESE’s Projects Advisor, explains that the selection committee, made up of CESE, COIAB and DH Advocacia, is particularly focused on organizations from Amazonas.  Four were from the Vale do Javari and 3 from Alto Solimõ, regions marked  by conflicts and under great pressure from mining, loggers and drug traffickers.

“Both areas are afflicted by these groups.  So it was the committee’s assessment that, by strengthening these grassroots organizations, we can contribute to these peoples’ struggles for the defence of rights, boosting the exchange of experiences between them.  We are also seeking to improve dialogue between these associations,” he noted.

The Vale do Javari indigenous land has the highest number of isolated indigenous people in the world.  The Alto Solimões region, located on the triple border with Peru and Colombia, is home to the Ticuna people, considered the most populous ethnicity in the Brazilian Amazon.

Maria Auxiliadora Cordeiro da Silva, COIAB Project Manager, noted that the project provides a collective force to strengthen indigenous peoples. “We need legal and accounting compliance.  To have access to projects, funds, and to bring benefits into our territories.  And most important: this has to be done by us, ourselves.

Paulo Pankararu, the first indigenous lawyer in Brazil and a member of DH Advocacia, highlighted the experience of the first three project phases with other associations and noted that this provides an excellent opportunity to continue going forward together with indigenous organizations of the Amazon.