South America

Catching Raindrops Eases Tensions

Rebeca and Nestor are promoting peace in their communities thanks to rooftop rainwater harvesting. Conflicts over land and water rights between indigenous people and “criollo” settlers have been a reality for nearly 100 years in the Argentine and Bolivian Chaco. Today, the settlers are as poor as their indigenous neighbors, and the existence of both groups is threatened by frequent six-month droughts. As Nestor puts it, “When it comes to water, there is no difference between us.”

Rebeca is the granddaughter of a criollo rancher, and Nestor a member of the indigenous, historically hunter/gatherer Wichi people. They evaluate and work with communities in the hot, semi-arid region of South America known as the Gran Chaco to find solutions to their chronic water deficits.

Rebeca is one of the few women on a local inter-ethnic team that surveys families. The team calculates water needs and creates maps using GPS in order to ask authorities to prioritize assistance in these remote locations. Nestor is a skilled construction worker who builds 4,000-gallon cement cisterns to hold rainwater collected from rooftops during seasonal rains, and teaches others to do so as well. A natural peacemaker, he is often called on to help solve or prevent conflicts among the groups.

Storage tanks are a practical solution that is proving to ease tensions. Humans and livestock can drink the collected rainwater, and it can also be used for household and agricultural needs that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to carry out during dry seasons.

Photo caption: Rebeca puts community at ease

Argentina-Bolivia Gran Chaco program
Led by World Renew and Local Partner CERDET
45 communities, 318 households, 2,226 individuals

02/01/2018 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Land rights and Food Security in the Gran Chaco Region

CWS, FRB, and Week of Compassion, Presbyterian Hunger Program and UMCOR hosted this informational webinar about the Gran Chaco Region.

The Chaco is the biggest forest reserve on the continent after the Amazon and the largest dry forest in the world. A major eco-system, it is also a region with great cultural diversity, home to 25 different indigenous ethnic groups including communities who for centuries lived as semi-nomadic hunter gatherers before losing most of their land. 

Now in its tenth year the FRB Chaco Program supports efforts by the indigenous peoples to reclaim their ancestral lands and assists them to improve food security and nutrition.

05/20/2015 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More


Two of FRB's partners, Week of Compassion and Church World Service (CWS), support local Paraguayan partner Mingarã in the Chaco Region of Paraguay. Mingarã works with indigenous communities of the Chaco through assistance in accessing and securing ancestral land rights, promoting sustainable agriculture to provide food security and nutrition and facilitating access to safe water.

In March of this year I had the opportunity to spend time with the community of San Lazaro during a visit with Week of Compassion, CWS and Foods Resource Bank.  Just days before Holy Week the visit brought to mind the Raising of Lazarus  -  miracles of Jesus which fill us with hope and life – as the inhabitants of the San Lazaro community, after decades of struggle, finally managed to move to a piece of land which is rightfully theirs.

04/16/2015 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

FRB visit raises morale in Colombia

When Foods Resource Bank and Mennonite delegations visit the farmers who participate in FRB’s “Cacao not Coca” program in the Chocó region of Colombia, it becomes clear that the moral support implicit in their presence is quite meaningful.

The program encourages Afro-descendant and indigenous families whose desire is to turn away from illegal coca production, to return to traditional farming through training and follow-up. In May, visitors and farmers alike were shocked to find that their rice, vegetable and cacao (cocoa) crops had been erroneously wiped out by aerial spraying of glyphosate,

04/02/2014 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Juan and his community are living healthier lives & earning income in Bolivia

In the high plains of the Andes Mountains, a dozen indigenous communities participating in FRB’s Bolivia-Potosí program are enjoying better health, eating nutritious, varied food and drinking clean water, thanks to their successes in vegetable production. Ninety percent of families have established vegetable gardens, and 70% of these families have boosted their incomes by 70%. Advertising that promoted the communities’ organic onions and lettuce in the nearest city led to an increase in sales.

The 12 communities have received training in appropriate farming, irrigation methods and marketing, and program follow-up in the areas of nutrition, hygiene, and preventive health.

01/20/2014 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Training mothers reduces childhood malnutrition in Peru

Mothers, babies and families participating in FRB’s Perú-Chota program are enjoying improved health through workshops and follow-up on hygiene, home vegetable gardening, nutrition, agriculture, and clean water practices. These rural communities are also securing greater access to basic municipal services , and the program has developed standards for inter-agency coordination between health and educational centers. Hygiene, nutrition and school gardens are a part of school curricula, and mothers and teachers alike have a positive attitude towards the program’s activities.

Over a three-year period, 450 boys and girls under the age of five in the communities have experienced a 9% reduction in chronic and an 11% reduction in overall malnutrition.

11/27/2013 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Sowing peace, building food security after armed conflict in Colombia

After decades of armed conflict, FRB’s Colombia-Sincelejo program seeks to support human rights and peace building through training in sustainable agriculture, water management, organizational capacity building, and community transformation.The population suffered heavy personal losses during the nearly 50 years of conflict, as a result of the country-wide violence, displacement, corruption, and environmental degradation.

Colombia is now in the process of peace dialogues, and local program staff is committed to standing with the people

11/08/2013 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More

Reducing child malnutrition in Peru

By engaging mothers in workshops on nutrition, hygiene and home gardening, the communities involved in FRB’s Peru-Chota program are seeing a reduction in child malnutrition. The 450 children are consuming 50% more calories per day over the last 3 years because their families have been able to diversify and improve the quantity and quality of the food they grow and eat. Also, since they are drinking clean water and washing their hands, children are less likely to be sickened by intestinal parasites. Their bodies can take better advantage of the nutrition now available to them.

07/03/2013 | Comments: 0 | Add Comment | Read More
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