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Colombia: Helping indigenous populations to withstand climate change

Malteser International is educating and empowering the indigenous Wayu people of La Guajira and Magdalena in Colombia to strengthen their resilience and combat the social and economic inequalities they face.

The Wayu –150,000 – strong are the largest indigenous group in Colombia. The Wayu have survived on farming for generations, and they depend heavily on nature for maintaining their health and livelihood. The soil and the water of the Don Diego and Tapia rivers in Colombia’s northern region are especially important to them. However, climate change and its effects have had detrimental effects on the Wayu by putting these resources more and more at risk. Inadequate health care and a lack of access to, and knowledge about, hygiene, nutrition and health care compounds the problems which they face.

Our new project “Strengthening Resilience for Indigenous and Afro-Colombian Communities Climate Change” will help improve the health of the community, as well as support the long-term health of the environment – the Wayu’s most precious resource: protecting their way of life and helping to build a sustainable future.

Taking their traditional farming practices as a basis, 100 Wayu farmers will be taught about sustainable and environmentally friendly farming, the importance of a diversity of crops, and a balanced diet. The farmers will also be introduced to alternative ways to provide for themselves and their community, such as beekeeping. As a result of our work with pregnant Wayu women and mothers: teaching them about food safety and nutrition during pregnancy, childhood and youth, future generations of Wayu will be able to live healthier lives. A community WASH station will also be built to avoid water contamination, which will help maintain the health of the entire community by preventing the spread of water-borne diseases and epidemics.

Malteser International is working with our partners on the ground: ABIUDEA (Association of Biologists of the Universidad de Atlántico) and PDPC (Programa de Desarrollo y Paz del César/Development and Peace Program of César), to ensure that the needs of the Wayu are met. The project is supported by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.


Katharina Kiecol
Email: katharina.kiecol(at)malteser-international.org

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