Protecting the Amazon: Outcome Harvesting Evaluation
In recent years, industrial-scale production of commodities like palm oil and cocoa has been introduced in Peru and Colombia. The rapid expansion of these crops puts at risk the health and biodiversity of large swaths of the Amazon and threatens the rights, lives, and livelihoods of indigenous peoples and local communities in these areas. In response to these dangers, in early 2017 Oxfam launched the project Protecting the Amazon: A Strategic Approach to Combat Commodity-Driven Deforestation by Empowering Citizens in Peru and Colombia, with the goals of curbing the indiscriminate expansion of agribusinesses and protecting the rights of local communities. The project has been implemented in the departments of Loreto, San Martín, and Ucayali in Peru, and in the departments of Caquetá and Vichada in Colombia.
This evaluation uses an outcome harvesting methodology and asks: How has the project contributed to the advancement of social and environmental justice in Peru and Colombia, and to curbing the expansion of agribusinesses that threatens biodiversity and the rights of local communities? The evaluation finds that the project has made significant contributions in multiple areas, and it has made progress toward social and environmental justice in Peru and Colombia. However, the problem of the socioenvironmental impacts of agribusinesses and monocrops is complex and massive in scale, and there is no project that could succeed in solving such an intricate problem or in creating long-term transformations in just three or four years. In contexts like those described, outcomes in many cases are associated with protection, prevention, and curbing of adverse threats and changes. It is likely that without the Protecting the Amazon project there would be more deforested hectares in the Amazon, more monocrop projects acquiring land in illegal ways, new ZIDRES projects in Colombia financed with public funds to benefit the private sector, less transparency regarding the operations of business groups and large-scale agribusiness, a less active and vigilant public sector, and more defenders vulnerable to the intimidation of companies and corrupt public officials.