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Project ensures connectivity for Vale do Javari indigenous association

 

Aldeias Conectadas (Connected Villages) is an ASDEC initiative funded by CESE’s Small Projects Programme

 

In the Vale do Javari nature is dense and challenging meaning that isolated indigenous people and other groups face connection challenges at a time when the swift circulation of information can save lives and help to preserve territory.  To overcome this barrier, the Community Development Association of the Marubo People of Alto do Rio Curuca (Associação de Desenvolvimento Comunitário do Povo Marubo do Alto do Rio Curuca: ASDEC) created the Aldeais Conectadas (Connected Villages) project, funded by CESE’s Small Projects Programme, which has improved internet access for ASDEC’s offices in Atalaia do Norte, directly expanding the reach of 50 people and improving communications with members who live in the Maronal village and surroundings.

Contacted and recently contacted peoples live in the Vale do Javari – villages that have remained intact thanks to the density of the Amazon Forest. From a communication and circulation point of view, access to the region is very limited and takes days of river travel.  Indigenous associations have established their offices in the city of Atalaia do Norte in order to access information technology, such as the telephone and internet, and link up with their partners.

For this reason, ASDEC designed a project for the acquisition of basic connectivity equipment, such as a modem and router, set up an exclusive internet access link for the ASDEC offices in the city of Atalaia and purchased a television to install in the old FUNAI (National Indian Foundation – Fundação Nacional do Índio) building located in the village of Maronal.  This has provided access to teaching materials via the internet and better quality links to participate in meetings that involve a large number of indigenous people.

ASDEC is one of the grassroots organizations in the Union of Indigenous Peoples from the Vale do Javari (União dos Povos Indígenas do Vale do Javari: UNIVAJA), and its most effective work focuses on encouraging initiatives from residents who live in one of the most remote regions of the valley.  According to Manoel Chorimpa, the association’s President, “among the main aims of the fight to defend the right of valley residents is the struggle to preserve culture and defend the territory.” In this sense, ASDEC works particularly closely with the Marubo population, who inhabit the channel of the upper Curuçá river on Vale do Javari indigenous land.

PRESERVATION – “The actual location of the villages in a region that, by its very nature, is hard to access constitutes a challenge to connectivity with the outside world. However, these populations are the bearers of the most sacred knowledge, which external influences have not been able to extinguish,” Chorimpa explained, adding that “the location contains the entire historical process of our ancestors, who are references for life today.  Their aspirations and inspirations are like seeds contained in each one of us and in future generations.  Based on this relationship, we are seeking new tools to align with our partners.”

The project provided the opportunity to purchase materials (which are now in use), ensuring the right conditions to hold meetings and training sessions – particularly with partners in political coordination and with supporters.  “CESE has been an essential part of this cycle in our history, through which we intend to ensure that new generations remain within the territory.  This relationship began in 2007,” he said.  The association has faced various challenges in order to remain active and resumed full operations in 2021.  Dealing with difficulties in keeping documentation and tax payments up-to-date is a recurrent problem for indigenous associations, one that often compromises the continuity of work in line with regulations.

The resumption of activities coincided with funding granted by CESE in partnership with the Coordination of Indigenous Organizations of the Brazilian Amazon (Coordenação das Organizações Indígenas da Amazônio Brasileira: COIAB), aimed at regulatory compliance for indigenous associations.  “Participating in this grant funding provided a vital and important opportunity to put life back into our association, which today has become one of the most active in the Vale do Javari.  We are already moving on to a third project – the first was Institutional Strengthening; the second Communications; and the third is a Rights Seminar, which we have yet to run,” he explained.  With this support, the organization has been able to progress in its commitment to defend the territory and its culture.

“CESE provided an opportunity for our association to survive.  Given the range of difficulties imposed by pending documents, we were practically decreeing its end.  For this, we only have thanks, firstly for the CESE team’s patience with us.  Secondly, we understand their spirit of humanism, because if we’d had to follow the system demanded by capitalism, we would never have had the opportunity to correct our errors and ensure the survival of our organization, which is as fundamental as human life,” he concluded.