Our Bolivian partner organization is CEPA, Centro de Ecología y Pueblos Andinos, (Centre for Ecology and the Peoples of the Andes). CEPA – as its name suggests– focuses on ecological problems and the indigenous population groups.
Centro de Ecología – Centre for Ecology
The Bolivian society is strongly affected by pollution. People are not used to sorting household waste and will dump it at the road sides. Not only household waste is omnipresent, the economy too has a substantial share in polluting the country. (International) companies extract minerals and discharge their waste in nature. As a result, large quantities of toxic substances end up in the environment…
CEPA’s role is to inform as wide a public as possible on the consequences of pollution and on a variety of alternatives. They provide details of the impact of waste discharge such as making arable land useless, causing diseases in cattle and harming people’s health. Not only do they make an effort to address the communities, but they also focus on communication with governmental organizations. Indeed, both target groups are crucial to achieve successful changes aimed at a better quality of life.
The ecological part of CEPA’s programme is not restricted to pollution. The authenticity of the living environment is an equally important theme. ‘Pachamama’ (Mother Nature) and her healing power is central to Bolivian culture and has obvious links to every aspect of society.
Pueblos Andinos – Andean Populations
Apart from ecology, CEPA’s focus is also on culture as a key concern. Culture at large includes indigenous customs and rituals, the community bond with Pachamama, expertise in the use of medicinal plants, etc.
Knowledge passed on from generation to generation is at risk of being lost due to the reduction of indigenous populations. CEPA stores and documents this knowledge and makes it available again. Apart from its informative role CEPA actively supports the indigenous communities so that they may survive.
How CEPA operates
Communication with the communities and the authorities happens through workshops, discussions and events. Besides, CEPA has a library and bookshop providing information on a wide variety of ecology-related topics and on social conditions in and around Oruro, such as:
various texts about indigenous peoples
documentation on languages: Quechua, Aymara
Oruro/Bolivian culture (carnival, legends, etc.)
the consequences of pollution
other environmental problems
biological farming techniques
and much more
Moreover, dissertations by students contribute to a body of small-scale studies about the environment and culture-related issues. In order to facilitate such studies CEPA has the support of a wide network within the communities and has access to a laboratory to map the local pollution on the basis of scientific data.
The Committee which was set up to protect Cajamarca against the Colosa mining project continues its operations beyond the Consulta Popular. It is a place where anyone from Cajamarca, whatever their background, is welcome on Sunday afternoons to discuss the environmental issues of Cajamarca. Thus, the committee is always the first to know about any threats to Cajamarca. It is a place where people of all ages can gather, from the village or rural areas. It is a place that offers opportunities for people to learn about their rights and where action is undertaken to enforce these rights. The Committee remains alert to the possible (illegal) return of Anglogold Ashanti while also focusing on Cajamarca’s transformation towards a more environmentally conscious and greener future. Members co-operate during the shift to biological agriculture and also participate in solidarity to the processes of other communities protecting their territories. They join meetings of the movimiento nacional ambiental. The Committee maintains its efforts in order to learn and grow and offers protection and support to Cajamarca in order to be a village where land and water remain priorities.
Acción Ecológica is an environmental organization based in Quito, Ecuador, which aims to raise awareness on environmental issues and work towards a more sustainable environment. The organization has worked since 1986 on a wide range of socio-environmental conflicts, including but not limited to oil extraction, Amazon rainforest protection and metal mining. It has campaigned against the “El Mirador” copper mine, a mining project situated in La Cordillera del Condor, which threatens the environment of one of the most biodiverse regions in the world ánd the rights of the local communities surrounding the mining project.
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. They 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.
GRUFIDES is a collective of individuals that are concerned for the environment and human rights of communities affected by extractive industries. They are located in the Cajamarca region, where the largest open pit mine (Yanacocha) is being developed for more than 25 years by a large mining corporation whose activities have been causing environmental damage, impacting livelihoods, human rights abuses, criminalisation and repression.