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Land rights for Ashaninka people in Peru

Working with Ashaninka communities of the Ene Valley in the Amazon region of Peru, this project aims to protect the Ashaninkas’ territories and ways of life through developing ways to better manage their territories according to their own traditions and generate an income from traditional activities.

Overview
Project aim: Supporting Ashaninka populations to achieve what they define as a good life, strengthening their rights to the territory, fostering sustainable livelihood strategies and promoting an improvement on health services.
Peoples concerned: Ashaninka communities of the Ene River
Funders: Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate
Local partners: Central Ashaninka del Rio Ene (CARE)

The Ene river valley in the Peruvian Amazon has been inhabited by Ashaninka indigenous communities for centuries. Their lifestyles, livelihoods and culture are deeply intertwined with the rainforest they inhabit. RFUK has worked in Peru since 2002, looking to support the Ashaninka to defend their rights and lands. Since then, several Ashaninka communities of the Ene have been able to map their territories and obtain legal titles to their lands, and two natural protected areas adjacent to these communities were recognised in 2003: the Ashaninka Communal Reserve and the Otishi National Park.

 

However, these steps are only the beginning of an ongoing process. Ashaninka territories are still under constant threat from extractive industries, such as logging, mining and oil companies, as well as mega hydroelectric projects. In order to support Ashaninka communities to face these threats and to develop a long-term, comprehensive strategy to defend their lands and livelihoods, RFUK and the Central Asháninka del Río Ene (CARE) launched the project Protecting Rainforests in the Selva Central Region of Peru in 2009. The core objectives of the project are:

 

  1. To develop an inclusive and participatory management system for the Ashaninka Communal Reserve that protects the forest and which is built upon Ashaninka perspectives and management systems.
  2. To support Ashaninka communities of the Ene to develop and implement their own systems for market-oriented forest management within their communal territories.
  3.  To develop viable alternatives of agricultural production and commercialisation that will enhance Ashaninkas’ livelihood options according to their aspirations and their cultural, economic and environmental context.
  4. To elaborate an agenda of prevention, intervention and strengthening of health based on Ashaninka concepts of health and on a thorough analysis of the main risks and lacks that these communities face.

 

CARE and RFUK have developed a unique management plan for the Ashaninka Communal Reserve, based on thorough consultation with Ashaninka communities done through participatory techniques. Technical training and improved market access schemes are being implemented for Ashaninka fair trade and organic cacao, while steps are being taken to ensure their social and environmental sustainability. More than 160 km of borders have been demarcated between communities and the Ashaninka Communal Reserve, which have reduced inter-communal conflicts and enhanced the protection of the Reserve. Also, studies are underway to formulate a strategy for sustainable forest resource management as well as to improve health services provided to the Ashaninka population of the Ene.

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