TReeS is responding to an urgent request to supply solar powered laptops, printers and associated materials to four remote indigenous communities in the Peruvian Amazon to enable the communities to improve their communications and enhance their capacitation to deal with urgent issues such as the Covid-19 pandemic, community organisation and the provision of community services.
The four Matsigenka indigenous communities - Tayakome, Yomibato, Sarigemini and Shirerishi – are located within Manu National Park, in the department of Madre de Dios, in south-east Peru. The communities can only be accessed by river, taking 2-5 days from the nearest roadhead. Manu is Peru’s premier protected tropical rainforest and regularly features in BBC and National Geographic wildlife films.
In 2020, satellite based, solar powered, internet communication systems were installed in the communities, part-financed by TReeS. This now enables each community to have a real-time link to the outside world. They are able to communicate directly with their own representative organisations, local government authorities and other local support organisations. This was very timely given the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The community leaders and members of the four communities will be able to receive, process and respond to official documents and correspondence more effectively. Consequently, they will be able to participate more comprehensively in the official decision-making associated with their communities. They will also be able to advise their communities of official directives and emergency advice issued by the government, indigenous organisations such as FENAMAD and COHARYIMA such as those linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, or the current extreme temperatures resulting from climate change.
Each community would be able to distribute information more comprehensively and, as a result hold more fully informed meetings in which there is greater community participation. Indigenous Amazon communities are often those least capacitated, least informed and least integrated into Peruvian society.
It will also support economic, social and educational links with the communities. This, for example, may enable health workers based in each community, to disseminate Covid-19 related information or teachers to receive materials and provide an enhanced educational experience for students.
These communities are also the neighbours of those indigenous peoples choosing to live in 'voluntary isolation within the forest' in the region. These peoples are also extremely vulnerable to illnesses introduced from outside such as Covid-19. The Matsigenka communities are likely to be on the frontline should Covid reach these isolated peoples.
The equipment: consists of a HP laptop, printer, and Poly-150 watts solar panel with batteries, plus supporting materials such as a USB and printer ink. The funding required is £1,250, including delivery from Cusco, and installation, per community.
The funding will be distributed in Peru via FENAMAD (Federation of Native Peoples of Madre de Dios) and COHARYIMA (Council of the Harakbut, Yine & Matsigenka peoples), the representative organisation of the three indigenous groupings living in the upper Madre de Dios, of which the Matsigenka are one. COHARYIMA is a sub-organisation of FENAMAD and will co-ordinate the installation of the equipment.
**UPDATE - Thanks to a large donation from the technology company Softwire, direct donations and funds raised by TReeS members and supporters earlier in the year, it was possible to provide the funding to supply the laptops and equipment to two communities in July 2021. We are now seeking funding to support a third community.
(Photo copyright - FENAMAD)