In Northern Colombia, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, one of the world’s most remarkable and most threatened biodiversity hotspots, AFD is supporting a program which has two objectives: return land to the Kogi Indians and regenerate forests. It is being conducted by a French NGO Tchendukua - Ici et Ailleurs.*
Memory awakened in Colombia, 500 years after the conquest
The activities implemented are being jointly managed with the Kogi Indians, the last heirs of the great pre-Columbian societies in South America, and are based on the ancestral knowledge of the Mamas (meaning “sun” in Kogui, the language of the Kogi Indians), the spiritual and political authorities of the community. When the Kogis recover land which will be reforested, they awaken its memory via sacred sites, places of knowledge, which they rediscover and then revive. It is like a thousand-year-old memory, interrupted by 500 years of conquests, slowly coming back to life, in the turmoil of the approaching modernity. A few months after COP21, this is an original example of the joint building of projects which appear to be promising in terms of attempting to address the major challenges of our time.
After 15 years of work, it is impressive to see this deforested land, whose soil has been damaged by long years of intensive livestock farming, then by the farming and fumigation of coca, come back to life.
The results are there to see and they are amazing. Over 1,000 hectares have been restored and have become luxuriant again, villages have been rebuilt, and “Guacamaya” parrots are returning. Biodiversity is slowly being reestablished around each village and is necessary for the survival of the Kogi culture. There are, of course, food plants: yucca, malanga, yam, batata, corn, millet, sugar cane, beans, guandul, tomatoes, chili peppers, pumpkins, bananas, etc., combined with other non-food crops, such as calabash, totumo, agave and cotton which, after having been re-established, are now constantly developing. These plants and, more generally, these vast regenerated agro-forestry systems, allow the Kogis to be self-sufficient on their land, both for their food and clothing needs and for their architectural and spiritual needs.
From land-use to wise use?
In addition to the return of biodiversity, the dialogue with the Kogi Indians allows us to broaden our outlook and explore new ways of being and acting together, in order to address the major challenges of our time and give life to this premonitory phrase by the geographer Elisée Reclus: “Man is nature becoming aware of itself.” Land use will perhaps then once again be put to wise use, developed with care, and the human adventure will once again be vibrant and creative, as it will be in solidarity with this nature that supports and provides for us.
Geographer, Founder of the NGO Tchendukua - Ici et Ailleurs
Representatives from Middle Eastern and European hosting countries as well as humanitarian and development organizations, academics and researchers concluded today a pivotal cross-regional event on the analytical findings, and policy implications, of the World Bank/UNHCR study “The Welfare of Syrian Refugees: Evidence from Jordan and Lebanon”.
The report sheds light on the socio-economic situation of Syrian refugees in both countries, and highlights the consequences of refugee poverty. An understanding of the socio-economic situation allows to better understand the welfare of refugees and to look towards creating a more sustainable system to address their needs.
It is also important in order to identify ways of turning elements of the crisis into opportunities. International experiences have shown that refugees can contribute to their host countries’ economies by becoming consumers, workers, and even investors.
The event was organized by the Center for Mediterranean Integration, the World Bank Group and the United Nations with the support of the French Development Agency. It allowed participants to share strategies and best practices for creating economic opportunities for host communities and refugees, based on the experience of countries in the Mashreq and Europe. Discussions revolved around:
- Combining humanitarian and development work for a short- to mid-term vision to support both Syrian refugees and local communities.
- Policy recommendations pertaining to the poverty situation of refugees and ways of turning elements of the crisis into opportunities.
- Mashreq/Europe knowledge sharing on creating conditions for shared prosperity and economic growth for the benefit of refugee and host communities.
- Addressing the financial gap through mobilizing resources and strengthening multi-partner collaborations towards supporting refugee and host communities welfare.
More info on the meeting and discussions can be found here (
WB/UNHCR “The Welfare of Syrian Refugees: Evidence from Jordan and Lebanon” is accessible here ( http://bit.ly/1Z7G366 )
White Paper “The Syrian Refugee Crisis in the Medium-Term: What Next?” accessible here ( http://bit.ly/20L0SdA )
Media Contact: (Ms) Zein Nahas, Communication Officer at the Center for Mediterranean Integration, 00 33 6 04677242, email@example.com
The Center for Mediterranean Integration (CMI) is a multi-partner platform where development agencies, Governments, local authorities and civil society from around the Mediterranean convene in order to exchange knowledge, discuss public policies, and identify the solutions needed to address key challenges facing the Mediterranean region. Members of the CMI include Egypt, France, Italy, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Tunisia, Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur Region, City of Marseille, the European Investment Bank and the World Bank Group, and the European External Action Service (EEAS) as an observer. Web:
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