Our non-profit organization is named after the Putumayo River, where, until recently, we were very active. The Putumayo River forms the border between Peru and Columbia. The area's rich biodiversity is protected by a nature reserve, the Zona Reservada Guëppí, and the indigenous peoples living in this remote area want to build themselves a sustainable future, but have to face numerous challenges in terms of organization, education, health and economy. Vzw Putumayo joins them in their struggle for self-determination!
Vzw Putumayo has been working for and with the indigenous peoples of Loreto, Peru, since 2002. A number of Belgian students travelled to the Putumayo region, and were so touched by the difficult situation the native people of these remote areas find themselves in, that they decided to support them in their struggle. The non-profit organization cooperates mainly with the Kichwa peoples living in the Alto Putumayo area. These 27 communities are represented by the Federación Indigena Kichwa Inti Runa - FIKAPIR. Vzw Putumayo works with them in order to ensure their right to self-determination, by supporting the education of their youth, by strengthening their organization, their leaders and their women and youngsters, and by offering help through the exchange of information, through legal/administrative follow-up and through policy influencing activities.
In October 2012 the Zona Reservada Güeppi (ZRG) in the Alto Putumayo was definitively categorized, after years of struggle by the indigenous federations. This ZRG was split up into one national park and two communal reserves. Moreover, the company Petrobras abandoned oil block 117 in august 2012, which brought along profound changes in the context and the legal/territorial situation of the ZRG. Oil block 117 overlaps with the native territories. By this withdrawal, the Alto Putumayo is free from oil concessions. Still, new oil concessions remain possible in both communal reserves, on condition that SERNANP (Servicio Nacional de Areas Naturales Protegidas por el Estado - the National Service of Natural Areas Protected by the State) approve them, and provided that the indigenous peoples are consulted in advance. The native people feel insecure about these changes and the implementation of the three protected areas, due to a lack of information and knowledge. That is why Putumayo vzw will continue supporting FIKAPIR, mainly through the empowerment of their youth: by monitoring their studies and offering workshops and specific information (Sui Sui programme).
For many years and at the request of the indigenous federations, vzw Putumayo supported the annual congresses and youth congresses, where all native communities come together to take important decisions about their future and to evaluate the past year. Furthermore, vzw Putumayo has financed a sustainable agricultural project, through the acquisition of a rice peeling machine, and has committed itself to the strengthening process of the indigenous federations.
Since April 2014 vzw Putumayo has been cooperating with the Programa de Formación de Maestros Bilingües de la Amazonia Peruana - FORMABIAP to implement the educational programme Sui Sui. FORMABIAP is a programme that forms part of the national indigenous organization AIDESEP. This partnership has been agreed upon for a period of five years, with the possibility to be prolonged. The Asociación Interétnica de Desarrollo de la Selva Peruana - AIDESEP looks after the interests of the native people of the Peruvian Amazon. It represents 1500 indigenous communities, 68 federations and 9 regional associations of the Peruvian Amazon. Their strategic goals, as defined in their Plan de Vida Plena, are aimed at the recognition and titling of the ancestral lands of the indigenous peoples, the free determination of these peoples, indigenous jurisdiction, and the right to an intercultural and bilingual education and health service, recognized by the Peruvian state. FORMABIAP is the educational programme of AIDESEP, and is organized as a speciality for intercultural bilingualism within the Institute of Public Higher Education 'Loreto' - ISEPL. The programme aims to address the cultural and linguistic needs of native youth, boys and girls. It wants to create a new generation of indigenous people who exercise their individual and collective rights, and defend their territories sustainably, according to the principles of autonomy and self-determination.