Vacancy: Global Engagement CATAPA Officer (GECO) at the Chaikuni Institute in Iquitos, Peru

Vacancy: Global Engagement CATAPA Officer (GECO) at the Chaikuni Institute in Iquitos, Peru

CATAPA and the Chaikuni Institute are looking for a collaborator to work for a year at the Chaikuni Institute in Iquitos, Peru, with two main tasks: 1) Support or set up activities and projects of the Chaikuni Institute, allies and indigenous students related to mineral extractivist activities such as gold mining in rivers and oil extraction in the Peruvian Amazon and 2) support the general operation of the Chaikuni Institute, with a focus on the human and nature rights program.

The Chaikuni Institute

The Chaikuni Institute is a local non-profit organization, based in the city of Iquitos, in the Loreto Region in the Peruvian Amazon.  It’s a grassroots collective which investigates, promotes and protects equitable, inclusive, interrelated and abundant living systems, honoring indigenous knowledge and permaculture principles. We work hand in hand with indigenous people and local communities in the Peruvian Amazon, on three main programs: permaculture, human and nature rights, and intercultural education. For more information, please go to:



CATAPA is short for Comité Académico Técnico de Asesoramiento a Problemas Ambientales. It is an environmental non-profit organization from Ghent who sensibilizes people in Flanders and Brussels about the social and environmental impact of mainly large scale mining in Latin-America and supports organizations and communities in Peru, Colombia and Bolivia in their struggle against big mining projects. More information:


Tasks may be slightly adapted according to the specific strengths and interests of the GECO:


Support the Human and Nature Rights Program of the Chaikuni Institute

  • Organize and accompany all kind of different activities within the Human and Nature Rights program
  • Assist in the formulation, fund-raising and implementation of a new project on indigenous female leadership, human rights (with a specific focus on the right to clean water), and sustainable community solutions in communities affected by oil extraction.
  • Contribute to the environmental monitoring (quality of water, soils, etc.) of the oil-affected communities
  • Participate in workshops and public events concerning relevant topics (Oil and other extractive industries in the region).
  • Support of the intercultural education program when needed. Tasks may include: Organizing and assisting the tutoring and academic training of the indigenous students during their vacations (basic English, Spanish and computer classes), facilitating monthly movie nights for the students, assisting the organization of workshops and events with the students.



Between Catapa and Chaikuni

  • Share knowledge from the Chaikuni Institute with Catapa and the other way around
  • Provide information and material that supports the campaigns of Catapa.
  • External communication about local and (inter)national news concerning mining, extractive industries and social movements. E.g. through blogs, articles and photos on the website of Catapa and social media. Inform CATAPA about recent developments

Within the Chaikuni Institute

  • Preparation of contents for the website of the Chaikuni Institute
  • Support for updating the Chaikuni website
  • Help with the preparation of other communication materials
  • Support the development of advocacy materials (website, Facebook, etc.)
  • Assist with the creation of audio-visual materials
  • Support to advocacy activities in Peru and Belgium (and the world)
  • Translations


Fundraising and development of projects

  • Support any ongoing project of the Chaikuni Institute and/or set up an activity (campaign, documentary, artistic project, investigation etc.) with allied organizations related to mineral resource extraction issues in the Amazon region. Some current issues in the region are illegal gold mining carried out by river dredges and the ongoing conflict regarding the decade-long oil extraction in the region, but also the increased use and improper disposal of electronic devices are growing issues that need to be tackled.
  • Support the elaboration and translation of project proposals to (potential) donors
  • Assist in the process of mapping and identifying potential new donors
  • Promote and help spreading fundraising campaigns of the Chaikuni Institute



  • Assist and/or lead investigation of the Chaikuni Institute into different topics related to mineral extractive industries.


  • You have advanced knowledge in Spanish and English, Dutch is an added value.
  • Prior working experience in foreign countries and/or in social projects is desirable
  • Experience within CATAPA is an advantage
  • You are a creative, flexible, honest and dedicated person
  • You work independently and take your own initiative
  • You have intercultural sensitivity, can adapt easily and have patience
  • You are interested in topics related to indigenous peoples
  • You have the capacity to work in a multi-disciplinary and multicultural team
  • You preferably have a university degree in social or natural sciences, related to environmental and human rights issues.
  • You are interested in volunteering at CATAPA after return
  • You are able to set up projects and find funds/subsidies
  • People with a more technical/natural science background (engineering, biology, chemistry, etc.) are encouraged to apply


We offer:

  • Preparation by CATAPA before departure and following up during the stay
  • A full travel insurance
  • As a contribution to your local living cost, you’ll receive 425 Euros/month (if you don’t have a right to social benefits in Belgium). From this amount you are also expected to cover your phone and local transport expenses for work related activities.
  • We don’t refund the flight ticket or costs involving vaccinations
  • A working experience in a fascinating region with challenging tasks on current issues
  • A professional and multicultural work environment with dedicated colleagues
  • Welcoming, training and continuous follow-up by Chaikuni’s staff
  • An opportunity to learn, grow professionally and contribute to the vision of the Chaikuni Institute working for economic alternatives for the local communities in Loreto and the preservation of the Amazon rainforest



  • Ideally from the 1st of October, with a duration of one year after a positive evaluation after 6 months. (small deviation is possible).



  • City of Iquitos, in the northern Peruvian Amazon region Loreto, with possible travels to communities once in a while.


Send your CV (in English) and a motivation letter (in Spanish) to Charlotte Christiaens ( at the latest on the 31st of August. Interviews are planned in the first week of September.

Project NEMO


Near-zero-waste recycling of low-grade sulphidic mining waste for critical-metal, mineral and construction raw-material production in a circular economy.


The issue of mining waste in the EU

Source: Historic mining site of Rio Tinto (Huelva, Spain) by Alberto Vázquez Ruiz

The mining of non-ferrous metals such as copper, lead, zinc, nickel, antimony and cbalt and precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum produces the largest volume of metal-containing extractive waste in Europe with approx. 900 million tonnes/year of presently unusable material, and about 29% of all the waste produced in the EU-28. Today, most mines only extract a little fraction of metals from the ore, discarding the rest as enormous volumes of mining tailings left in waste-storage facilities. These installations have a limited safe lifespan and pose a serious threat to the environment and local people due to their risks (e.g. dam break, landslide, geomembrane break), compromising the present and future generations that must inherit the cost of management and permanent monitoring. This is particularly the case for sulphidic tailings, which often cause acid-mine drainage.


‘Recycling’ of mining waste as a better practise

Source: NEMO project

In its 2016 Raw Materials Scoreboard report, the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials launched a “call to arms” to transform the “extractive-waste problem” into a “resource-recovery opportunity”. In response to this call, the NEMO project takes up the challenge of developing new ways to valorise sulphidic tailings, through the recovery of valuable metals and critical raw materials (Co, REEs/Sc, Mg). NEMO takes the lead in respecting the zero-waste principles of the EC’s Circular Economy Action Plan (2015) in the mining sector. The project will also learn new techniques to concentrate the hazardous elements (As, Cd) and remove the sulphur in the form of sulphate salts (e.g. Na, K, Mg), leaving the residual, clean mineral fraction to be used as a raw material for the mass production of cement, concrete and construction products. The result would be a drastic reduction in waste to just 5% (still to be stored) of its original (fresh tailings) volume, leading to far fewer risks for storage, and with the additional benefit of no acid-mine drainage possibility. An improvement that every mine site should implement!


CATAPA in an EU ‘Horizon 2020’ Innovation Action

CATAPA is a small partner in the NEMO interdisciplinary consortium, including 6 industrial partners (4 engineering, 1 machine manufacturing & 1 construction materials company), 4 research institutes, 2 universities and 2 mining companies (the implementation cases: Sotkamo mine in Finland, and Las Cruces mine in Spain). NEMO has four categories of objectives: technological, economic, environmental and social. CATAPA is involved in the achievement of the latter. NEMO states the will to achieve an open dialogue and enhance cooperation between all stakeholders (mining sector, local communities, authorities and NGO’s) to implement co-design and co-monitoring systems, so CATAPA will be working for 4 years (2018-2022) to ensure that the voice of locals will be known and taken into account by the consortium in its implementation of these new technologies on the mine sites.


Note (12/02/2019):

Las Cruces case is no longer part of the project because Cobre Las Cruces S.A.U. (subsidiary of First Quantum Minerals Ltd., based in Canada) withdrew from the NEMO Consortium on January 29th 2019 after a major mining accident occured in its operation in the early morning of the 23rd, when a large amount of its mining waste deposits (dried tailings) suddenly precipitated inside its open-pit through a land slippage. This event demonstrates once again the real need to find a solution to the constant generation of polluting waste by mining activities for the benefit of the whole society and our planet. For more information visit this blog or read the article from Yes To Life No To Mining.

Source: Ecologistas en Acción Sevilla (Spain).