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Towards a sustainable Gran Chaco

ICCO Cooperation is implementing its new project “For Our Sustainable Gran Chaco: Active participation in models of land management for environmental conservation integrated with sustainable production”. 

Towards a sustainable Gran Chaco

The new project, financed by the European Union, will benefit vulnerable indigenous communities, youth and women. A total of 43,000 people (of which 21,092 women) and 240 staff members of institutions will be reached, all of them inhabitants of the trinational Chaco from the communities in the municipalities of Salta, Santa Fe and Santiago del Estero (Argentina), Villamontes, Yacuiba, Entre Ríos and Caraparí (Bolivia) and the department of Alto Paraguay (Paraguay).

Biome at risk

Despite being the area with the most biodiversity and forestry in the continent after the Amazon, the Great South American Chaco is one of the regions with the highest rates of deforestation in the world. It is a biome at risk due to the impact of climate change (prolonged drought, reduction of precipitation and prevalence of economic activities that put pressure on the territory: overgrazing, degradation of the soils, extractive activities, etc). It is a complex ecosystem with fragile soils, where the interests of its inhabitants do not match with external interests that seek to exploit the natural resources. As a consequence, indigenous and peasant families are the first to face limitations such as scarcity of water, lack of basic services, supplies, limited access to markets, low income and low rates of political participation.  

Project activities include:

  • The civilian organizations (indigenous and women's organizations) will be strengthened so they can represent and defend these elements in the spaces of local, national and international debate, promoting the inclusion of indigenous peoples and women. 
  • We will improve the productive capacities of indigenous peoples and peasants in the conservation of environmental functions, for example in the production of artizan and culturally produced products. Also facing the challenges that emerge as a consequence of climate change, with respect for Mother Earth and the biodiversity of the region's ecosystem.
  • With respect to the productive capacities, technical assistance will be provided and supplies will be given to producer families so they can improve their traditional productive activities and can complement them with other income-generating activities which do not affect the environment (organic). 
  • The development of strategies of resilience will be promoted in the population of El Chaco, which will allow the exercise of their human rights (economic, social, cultural, political).  
  • Replicable models of sustainable development will be created and strengthened, which are compatible with the conservation of the environment. This will be done in the framework of a popular participation strategy in the governance mechanisms.
  • Traditional, integral and sustainable livestock systems will be facilitated (especially in Argentina). 
  • The capacities for forest management and productive use of forests will be improved, in order to contribute to mitigating climate change through the increase in tree biomes and the absorption of Carbon Dioxide by the forest (phenomenon known as Carbon Sequestration). 

Experience in Gran Chaco

ICCO together with Kerk in Actie (KiA) has worked over 25 years in Gran Chaco. The new project connects to the program ‘Sustainable Chaco’, in which ICCO and KiA implemented actions towards land and indigenous peoples’ rights. This project benefits indigenous people of the region, who have been historically marginalized and excluded from the public policies that guarantee the access to water, diversification of production, education and health. 
In the last 5 years, the work of KiA and ICCO has prioritized the strengthening of economic activities in order to create sustainable livelihoods, the defense and promotion of rights and access to basic services for the local communities. 

About the project

The project is financed by the EU’s Zicosur Project, which focuses on the conservation, sustainable use and and good governance of biodiversity in four vulnerable biomes in the centre of South America, amongst which Gran Chaco. The project is carried out in a consortium of COOPI (Italy), FUNDAPAZ (Argentina), Tierraviva (Paraguay), CERDET (Bolivia), FUNDECOR (Bolivia) and ICCO (lead). The project receives EUR 2,567,440 and will be executed in three years. 

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