Around 22,000 Awá people live in the Nariño region of Colombia. The Awá are officially recognised as a people threatened by extinction, and many of them live in poverty. They have been negotiating a Safeguard Plan with the government, but agreements have been delayed for years.
In the past, the Awá people lived by gathering fruits and using the rivers as a source of water and food. But armed conflict and coca plantations have taken over much of their land, placing them in the centre of conflict and human rights violations. Now, the rivers are not clean enough to drink from, or fish in, and they only eat crops they can grow, which is mainly bananas. This lack of varied food means their diet is very poor. A shocking recent report found that as many as 70 per cent of indigenous children in Colombia are malnourished. The changing climate in this remote rural
location means that floods and droughts are now a frequent problem, which is exacerbating the already difficult situation for the communities.
During our previous work with Awá communities, they told us that the lack of clean water and proper sanitation facilities is the biggest challenge they face as it impacts on all aspects of life - their health, their ability to farm and work, and the safety of women and girls, who have to walk long distances to fetch water supplies.
The project will address this by installing or repairing water and sanitation facilities suitable for each community, as the terrain and water access differs greatly. We will also support members of the community to live and work together better, including addressing prejudices about women's rights, planning for emergencies, and training the community to maintain healthy environments. This project will give the Awá people the chance to build a brighter future.
How we're helping
This year, more than 4,000 men, women and children from the Awá community will directly benefit from the repair and installation of water and sanitation facilities. This is the total population of the 14 communities this project is working in, so these people will also benefit from the trainings in self-protection and women's rights.
The project will also indirectly benefit a further 3,545 people in neighbouring communities, because the water and sanitation facilities have been strategically located in places where Awá community meetings take place, and where communities forcibly displaced by the armed conflict can be received.
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