From March the 14th to the 24th I spent some time in the Middle-Lower Amazon region, Pará, Brasil.
With me, Rodolfo Canciani, of the Italian NGO Fratelli dell’Uomo.
The aim of our trip to this beautiful region was to overlook the work of some organizations, in order to evaluate the feasibility of the partnership establishment.
First, we visited the municipality of Oriximiná, one of the bigger in the region. Here we met the Rural Workers Union.
People from both the plateau (planalto) and the river bank (ribeirinhos) attended the meeting; the first ones main crops are rice, beans, corn and cassava; the second ones plant and process cassava and have a tradition of extractivism (Brazilian chestnut, wood, etc.). The main challenges of the Rural Workers Union are now: the implementation of the rural settlements created in the region, good use of the government credit, some form of centralization and processing of the villages’ products (in first stance fruits), and the writing of project proposals, in order to access funding opportunities.
Then we came back to Santarém, where we met the Centro de Apoio a Projetos de Ação Comunitária (CEAPAC) and the regional chief of the State Ministry of Agriculture.
We travelled then to Prainha, a municipality lower in the Amazon river.
Here came to be created a protected area, called Renascer (RESEX Renascer), as the final act of a long season of struggles, started in 2000 (see more about the RESEX Renascer here; the protected area creation did not prevented the clandestine loggers from attacking the forest and the people of this region. Here we reached Santo Antonio, a village on the Tamuataí riverbank, 24 hours far from Santarém, by boat; here we appreciated the skill of the local people making cassava crackers (beijú) and wood handicrafts.
We slept here, under a starry sky, listening to the monkey’s sounds, far away in the forest. Soon in the morning, we went to the near village of Espírito Santo, where we had a meeting with the local people. The main challenge in the region are the essential services, a duty the government does not comply with, and the sustainable development of the people of the protected area; a non-spoken, but clear priority is the legitimation and strengthening of the protected area’s new organization, the “association mother“; in this process, the conflict of antagonist political parties in the region, it is an obstacle.
From the Tamuataí river, we went to the Vira Sebo village, at the encounter of the Ururará with the Amazon river. Here we spent almost a day with the local fishermen, who live in wood piles, sometimes of great quality and beauty. We heard the poem written by a wise man, listing a great number of bird, fish, mammal, and reptile species, some of them extinct.
The main challenges here are the management of the most important natural resource, fish, the improvement in the commercialization of the fish and its by-products, like piracuí (fish flour), and better water quality.
At the end of our trip, we met the local NGO Centro de Estudo, Pesquisa e Formação dos Trabalhadores do Baixo-Amazonas (CEFT-BAM), and the German NGO DED, in order to discuss some means of implementation of our partnership strategy in the region.