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Indigenous Peoples

Highlighting the State of Indigenous Peoples in Poverty and Development

Harry A. Patrinos's picture

Blogging from the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York City.

As world leaders gathered this week at the UN for the MDG Summit, the World Bank called critical attention to the state of indigenous peoples throughout the world - who show higher poverty rates and lower schooling rates than their peers - with a session that reviewed key findings from a new global study.
There are approximately 300 million indigenous peoples in the world. They make up fewer than 5 percent of the global population, but account for about 10 percent of the poor. Nearly 80 percent of indigenous peoples in the world live in Asia. Indigenous groups in China and India alone account for more than two-thirds of the world’s indigenous population. 

Whānau Coalition Building: Intra-Group Relationality ≠ Best Practice Transferability

Naniette Coleman's picture

The beads in her traditional red, black and white headpiece rustled in response to her subtle bow.  Although the degree took years of work, it took only a matter of seconds for her advisor, Professor Mark Warren, to loop her Doctoral hood around her neck and drape it down her back. On May 26, 2010, Malia Villegas became one of very few Alaska Natives (indigenous) with a Doctorate.  Stanford educated Malia, co-editor of “Indigenous Knowledge and Education, Sites of Struggle, Strength, and Survivance” Malia, Fulbright scholar and newly minted Doctor of Education from Harvard University Malia is not one out of a thousand, not one out of a hundred or even fifty.  In 2008, there were only 21 Alaska Natives who obtained a PhD from any school at anytime in the United States.  It is safe to say that Malia is perhaps one of twenty-five or thirty. 

Community Connections -- How One DM2009 Winner Develops Them

Tom Grubisich's picture

One of the cardinal rules of development aid -- the new cardinal rule -- is, Don't just “deliver” assistance, but instead make sure it's "accepted.”  DM2009 competition winner Sarstoon Temash Institute for Indigenous Management (SATIIM) has been following that not-always-embraced rule since the community-based nonprofit indigenous environmental organization was formed in southern Belize in 1997.

SATIIM’s mission is "to safeguard the ecological integrity of the Sarstoon-Temash region and employ its resources in an environmentally sound manner for the economic, social, cultural, and spiritual well-being of its indigenous people.”  For SATIIM, this isn't just window-dressing verbiage.

The Q’eqchi Maya Indigenous People of Crique Sarco in southern Belize have been active participants in SATIIM programs to rescue the region's rich but endangered 13 forest ecosystems while collaborating with the Q’eqchi to reduce poverty by creating jobs and also delivering a range of social, health, educational, cultural, and civic benefits.

As SATIIM awaits the arrival of its DM2009 grant of US$200,000, it is already involving the Q’eqchi in the forest-management/community betterment project that will be financed.  With its long history of working with the Q’eqchi in Crique Sarco, SATIIM knows the total tapestry of the community –- as shown in this richly informative report to the DM Blog by SATIIM technical coordinator Lynette Gomez (photo at left), with the help of SATIIM Executive Director, DM project leader, and Maya activist Gregory Ch'oc:

DM2009 Siberia Winner Reports on Indigenous Peoples' Progress

Tom Grubisich's picture

The 40 Indigenous Peoples of the North, Siberia, and Far East in Russia have had to struggle mightily -- not only against a hostile environment but also what they see as sometimes arbitrary governmental action. But they're making fresh progress, according to this emailed report from DM2009 winner Rodion Sulyandziga (holding award in photo at right), Director of the Center for Support of Indigenous Peoples of the North (CSIPN), which has spearheaded recognition and -- more important practically -- enforcement of Indigenous Peoples' rights:


"On April 14-15 in Moscow the Russian Association of Indigenous Peoples of the North (RAIPON) -- the umbrella organization that includes CSIPN -- will be hosting (in partnership with the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation) the Arctic Indigenous Leaders Summit, with the main focus on climate change in the Arctic. The participants are international experts, academia, Arctic states, regional governments, business, and Indigenous Peoples. The Summit will create a good basis for our future activities and networking. It's vital for us to involve federal, regional governments, and business from the scratch.

"We are also invited to the high-level international meeting "The Arctic: Territory of Dialogue" on April 22-23 under Russian Premier Putin to make a presentation on behalf of Indigenous Peoples. This is a good progress."

Why Climate Adaptation Has to Begin at Home

Tom Grubisich's picture

DM2009 finalists focused on community-based adaptation (CBA) to climate change because the struggle against intensifying drought, storms, flooding, and rising sea levels in developing countries often must begin not in national ministries but at home.  Why that's so is summed up cogently in this slide show from CARE, the global  organization that focuses on helping the poorest individuals and households  The slide show was presented at the pre-Copenhagen U.N. climate meeting in Poznan, Poland, in December 2008, but it's as relevant today as it was then.  Maybe more so.

'Some Current Approaches to Climate Adaptation May Bypass Local Institutions'

Tom Grubisich's picture

Carbon dioxide -- the chief cause of manmade global warming -- doesn't park itself only in the atmosphere over major emitting countries.  So, obviously, the response to climate change requires global action.  But drought, storms, flooding, and rising sea levels demand climate adaptation tailored to circumstances that will vary by region and even locality.  For example, farmers in one part of southern Zambia may have to respond with a hybrid maize seed that differs significantly from what needs to be planted in another part of that climate-besieged food bowl.  The issue in southern Zambia is not just more intense drought, but how it can, and does, vary in intensity even within one region.  Dry weather may be so severe in one area that farmers there may have to give up maize cultivation and plant an entirely different crop.

Such fine-tuned local adaptation can't come primarily out of ministries of the national governments of developing countries trying to cope with the mounting adverse impacts of climate change on people and resources.  It requires local institutions to meet the capacity gap.  But national governments aren't collaborating that closely with civil society at the community level.

This from the new book Social Dimensions of Climate Change (World Bank, 2010):

"It is unfortunate that some current approaches to adaptation planning and financing may bypass local institutions.  The current push to formulate national adaptation plans of action [NAPAs] seems to have missed the opportunity to propose adaptation projects for community- and local-level public, private, or civic institutions."

DM2009 Finalists Build Strong Presence on Blog

Tom Grubisich's picture

DM2009 finalists have been major participants in this blog.  Since the site re-launched on Oct. 27, 2009, 33 finalists from 25 countries have contributed 12 articles, been interviewed 14 times, quoted 18 times, and commented twice.  Here's a breakdown of finalist contributions by country.  The linked names will take you to the finalists' projects, and the linked titles to the finalists' contributions.








El Salvador












































All finalists also contributed videos to the DM Channel on YouTube (featured on the upper-right-hand side of this page), and some participated in video interviews that are also included in the Channel.


DM2009 Winner Sees Public-Private Gap on Climate Adaptation

Carlos Daniel Vecco Giove's picture

In my country of Peru, climate adaptation planning at a national level isn't effective.  In fact, there aren’t any plans to speak of.

It would be great if all civil society groups could help to build an effective national plan that would produce results benefiting people and resources.  But this will require a process, and there is a lot to be done.

This not only a problem for government.  Even among NGOs there are factors that limit the participation of all organizations and people.

In our experience as a small organization, we were able to bring change in a concrete way at the regional level after a long and big effort. Our achievements were ignored during a long time by the main public institutions and big NGO.  Only after 10 years of hard work with scarce resources are we beginning to see results in terms of a change in the attitude of politicians that govern the region.

We are supporting in a very important way the regional political environment. But it is necessary to show how a small project like ours, which is being co-financed by DM2009, will contribute to this objective.

(Vecco [photo above] was team leader on the winning DM2009 finalist project in Peru that  will use its US$200,000 grant to help1,500 indigenous people in the Peruvian Amazon better manage their agricultural production systems, protect their forest, and increase their income.)

Climate Threats Hit Low-Income Countries Hardest

Tom Grubisich's picture

As the table shows, many low-income countries face the most climate threats, as identified by the World Bank.  A number of the most-threatened countries are also in the Least Developed Countries category, and six of them are in "fragile situations," also as identified by the World Bank.

Among the hundred finalists in the recent DM2009 competition, 26 of them came from most-threatened countries.  Bangladesh, which ranked first among most threatened, had five entries, but no competition winners.

Pledges of Adaptation Collaboration Need a Close Watch

Tom Grubisich's picture

Many developing countries are busy planning to adapt to climate change that is already heavily impacting their people, natural resources, and economies, especially agriculture.   But what actually works in particular countries, and at what cost, are often questions that National Adaptation Plans of Action (NAPAs) and other strategies don't adequately answer.
To find answers that can be tailored to the conditions of individual developing countries -- there are 130 -- the World Bank is leading a pilot study of climate adaptation in Bangladesh, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Mozambique, Samoa, and Vietnam.

The concept note says "overall oversight of study progress" will include, besides the six national governments, "civil society representation."  But some DM2009 finalists say they see little evidence, based on their own experiences, that governments in their countries are serious about collaboration with the private sector.

Successful climate adaptation depends on public-private collaboration, especially on the community level, where so much adaptation integrated with economic development has to take place.  NGOs with strong community roots -- like many of the DM finalists -- can also help close the capacity gap that hampers public programming in developing countries.