Indigenous empowerment through knowledge sharing

Literacy and access to education are powerful tools for Indigenous individuals and communities. When Indigenous peoples have access to education and literacy, they become more resistant in the face of adversity.

These skills are vital in navigating legal frameworks and can empower individuals to challenge discriminatory practices. It allows them to advocate for the recognition and protection of their land, culture and overall human rights.

Here are some examples of how the communities in our partnerships across the world have equipped themselves with this knowledge.

Knowledge sharing in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea’s government is currently planning to ban the export of unprocessed timber, and instead start turning the logs into a final end product domestically. This decision has been made in a bid to hopefully add value to the product and bring more benefits to local resource owners. However, the infrastructure needed to implement this new policy is not in place yet.

Whilst the government is figuring out its next steps, foreign logging companies are taking advantage of local communities, who are unclear on the rules that will be enforced once the policy is in place.

“People in remote forest communities are not fully aware of government policies or other development options available to them.” Tory Kuria, Conservation Coordinator in PNG

Logging companies are therefore trying to sway communities to use their land and resources in order to export timber, without compensating/negotiating fair terms with these communities. The foreign logging companies are supposed to use Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC) processes when making decisions involving Indigenous communities, but instead have taken advantage and assumed that these communities do not have the knowledge or access to information needed to deny their schemes.

Thankfully, our team in PNG have proved them wrong by delivering educational awareness to most of our partnership communities for a better understanding of the new government policies, logging processes, associated benefits and potential downsides. This is an incredible example of Indigenous communities coming together to share knowledge and empower themselves in order to make important decisions about their land and resources.

Ashaninka communities accessing vital information in Peru

Our partnership with Central Asháninka del Río Ene (CARE), an Indigenous-led organisation legally representing 19 Asháninka communities in the Peruvian Amazon, explores what can be done to prevent rainforest fires. The next phase is now being planned with CARE to create an Early Warning System that enables communities to receive real-time information on social, territorial and environmental issues that may affect them.

Why is this beneficial? It allows these 19 Indigenous communities to make detailed reports on events that may violate their individual and collective rights such as illegal deforestation. These reports will be taken more seriously and receive more attention due to the inclusion of this real time data, hopefully leading to swifter solutions.

As well as gaining access to important data, these communities will receive training on Indigenous governance, forest law, administrative procedures of government agencies in forestry and individual and collective rights of Indigenous peoples.

This access to information paired with education awareness will no doubt help them become more resistant in the face of adversity.