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Indigenous people fight for their culture

March 24, 2020

The Misak community in western Colombia wants to preserve its ancestors' traditions and horticultural knowledge while responding to ongoing deforestation in the region.

Global Ideas - Members of the Misak community in the Colombian province of Cauca
Image: Katja Döhne

Colombia: Indigenous communities forge the future

Project goal: The International Climate Initiative (IKI) supports Indigenous and local populations in 26 countries to help preserve their traditional habitat, way of life and biodiversity.

Project funding: The project is funded by Germany's Federal Ministry for the Environment and Nature Conservation with a total of €12 million ($12.9 million) which is distributed among initiatives in 26 countries. The Asociación Jardin Bótanico las Delicias is supported by the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) small grant program.  

Project partners: The project in Colombia is implemented by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). Other partner organizations include the Indigenous Peoples and Community Conserved Territories and Areas (ICCA Global Consortium).

Wearing hats and bright blue capes, members of the Misak community in the Colombian province of Cauca are easily recognizable — even from a distance.

Like in many Latin American regions, Indigenous people in Cauca, near the city of Silvia, face constant pressure on their culture. 

Two decades ago the Asociación Jardin Bótanico las Delicias was formed in the Guambia settlement in Cauca and today they are working together to stand up for the preservation of both their culture and territory. The organisation's activities include regular meetings for young and old villagers around a campfire and staging theatrical productions. Together they perform ancient rituals and cultivate their traditional circular flower beds. A variety of plants used for health purposes are grown in the community garden. 

The village also maintains a 70-hectare piece of rainforest with the aim of educating younger generations about the rainforest forest.

A film by Katja Döhne