On the Ground with: Association for Community Development of the Cienaga Grande (ASPROCIG)

Restoring food security through ingenuity and tradition in Colombia

The Sinú River in northern Colombia has supported a diverse community of indigenous people for generations. The Zenu and Embera people who live by its banks depend on the river for fish, irrigation and drinking water. But in 2000, the Urrá Dam, built by a consortium of Colombian, Swedish and Russian companies, submerged over 7,400 hectares of land, crops, homes and sacred sites. The dam displaced 2,800 people and continues to threaten the lives of 70,000 by altering vital food supplies. Areas of severe periodic flooding and drought caused by its flow have stymied traditional farming practices. Compounding this reality is the construction of a new dam—many times the size—by the Colombian government, presenting a constant looming threat over this beleaguered rural community.

Enabling survival in a changed landscape.

In response to the radical changes brought about by the dam, a local NGO—Association for Community Development of the Cienaga Grande (ASPROCIG)—is working to restore the ecology and agricultural productivity of the region by helping farmers along the Sinú develop agriculture and aquaculture farms suitable to the changed environment. With AJWS's support this year, ASPROCIG-supported farmers will establish 100 new farming systems.

Fueling alternative development with the knowledge of a rich tradition.

ASPROCIG's model uses proven local traditions and community participation to conserve the area's natural resources and defend land rights. Using traditional cultivation strategies, its staff are teaching farmers and fisherfolk to install drainage and irrigation systems, reintroduce plants and breed fish and market their crops. ASPROCIG has also participated in the creation of a Bureau of Labor and a Standing Committee on Human Rights in the regional government. The success of these projects has enabled the community to survive against tremendous odds.

Hunger prevention fast facts:

  • Since its inception in 2003, ASPROCIG has helped develop 471 agriculture systems—all of which are now fully functioning under community control and leadership—involving 571 families and a total of 2,073 community members.
  • With AJWS's funding, 75 permanent small agro-ecological farms have been established in the Sinú River region and 100 more are under construction.
  • ASPROCIG has trained 1050 people in dam-affected areas on sustainable farming methods.

Voices of Change

We understand our lands to be dependent on a permanent relationship between the culture of the local people—farmers, women, men, indigenous persons, children and youths—and the natural environment. For us our land is not just a geographic space, but rather a zone of life, where all walks of life can coexist. We propose that alternative rural development is a lifestyle that will defend our resources and our way of life.

— Jaminson Pitalua, ASPROCIG staff

Video

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x8ZpIqPdWg 3x8ZpIqPdWg 16_9 /hunger_old/grantees/asprocig/asprocig.html

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