In the Amazon rainforest in eastern Bolivia Christian Aid's partner, the Centre for Research and Training of Peasants (CIPCA), has been successfully working with marginalised indigenous communities in the region of Beni to secure the rights to the land where they have lived for generations.
The communities feel an even stronger link to the land on which they live now that their families have gained the official land titles.
Securing land rights
Elmy Ymanarlico, who keeps chickens provided by CIPCA, says: 'These chickens are better than the ones we had in the community before because they produce more eggs and more often', ensuring regular food and income.
Now families are safe on their land, they can invest for the future, too.
Elmy is now able to provide food for her family and sell surplus produce at market
Over the past few years CIPCA has helped more than 1,000 families to secure legal ownership of the land they have lived on for generations.
This in turn has protected them from local cattle ranchers and mining and logging companies who had been trying to drive them off their land, often destroying their crops or intimidating their families.
With rights to the land, communities are now able to look forward to a more secure future and are able to invest their time and efforts in caring for the land and forest in which they live.
As well as helping these communities to gain their land rights, CIPCA is also helping them to increase the amount of food they have while continuing to protect the forest and the rich resources it holds.
By developing new sustainable businesses with the communities, such as growing the region's high-quality cocoa and teaching the communities how to keep hens and woolless sheep, fear and hunger are being replaced by safety and abundance.
Moreover, by providing each family with seeds or saplings for 52 different types of crops, CIPCA is helping them to diversify their agriculture, ensuring that they are not reliant on just a few crops.
This means that even if there is flooding or a time of drought, they can still harvest some foods.
While some crops, such as rice or maize, are ready to harvest within a year, the communities can plan ahead and plant cocoa saplings or citrus trees for harvesting after a few years.
They also plant their own hardwood trees, which may take 30 years to mature but can then be sold or used to build their children’s homes, further protecting their forest environment and futures.
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