What Oxfam is doing
Oxfam helps indigenous people, women, and other groups protect their natural resources and defend their rights, while also improving people’s safety in the face of disasters.
The indigenous people of South America have endured centuries of racism. They are routinely denied their basic rights to education and health care, clean water, and adequate nutrition. Centuries of colonialism, conflict, discrimination, and state neglect have left indigenous areas far behind in terms of income, literacy, and decent employment.
Oxfam America helps indigenous organizations train leaders and members to better represent the needs of their people at the local, regional, and national levels. Organizations use our grants to improve their communications and more effectively advocate for policies that will help their people. They also build alliances with other organizations with similar interests.
Protecting indigenous territories
The culture and identity of the indigenous people is closely linked to their territories. While Bolivia, Ecuador, and Peru all have laws protecting indigenous lands, indigenous organizations frequently lack the resources to gain legal title to their lands, and need training on ways to protect the environment and provide a decent living for their people.
Oxfam America has helped indigenous organizations document and gain legal title to lands in the eastern forests of Bolivia's Monte Verde region, where the Chiquitano people are mapping their lands and filing the required legal documents to gain legal title. Oxfam America has helped the Chiquitano people fund the legal work in this project, as well as in providing specialized training to help them protect and manage the forest resources in their lands.
Indigenous communities also face incursions by oil, gas, and mining companies seeking to exploit the government-owned resources under their lands. Oxfam helps organizations and communities understand and exercise their right to be consulted under international law. Oxfam also funds training programs that teach villagers how to monitor the effects of oil pipelines and ensure pollution is controlled.
Improving emergency response
Natural disasters and local conflicts impose the greatest burden on poor people, who are the most vulnerable and the least prepared. In South America, people are particularly at risk from earthquakes and the unpredictable coastal rains and highland droughts related to the El Niño weather pattern.
In 2003, the South America regional office established the Risk Management and Humanitarian Response program in order to reduce the vulnerability of those threatened by natural disasters. This component of Oxfam's program:
- Offers humanitarian aid to reduce suffering when local and national organizations are unable to meet the needs generated by a disaster.
- Helps organizations recognize and anticipate risks in their on-going development work.