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Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area – DAPA

Researchers travel to the Colombian Amazon to understand the relations between ecosystem services, food security and health using participatory methods


Indigenous community in the study area (Photo: Gisella Cruz-Garcia)

Indigenous community in the study area (Photo: Gisella Cruz-Garcia)

A team of biologists and anthropologists left to the depths of the Colombian Amazon, as part of the first phase of fieldwork for the ASSETS project ‘Managing ecosystem services for food security and the nutritional health of the rural poor at the forest-agricultural interface”. The fieldwork consists of the use of various participatory methods with different indigenous communities in the region. Although these communities are made up of people with diverse ethnic backgrounds such as Yucuna, Tanimuca, Cubeo, Miraña and Macuna, all of them depend directly and indirectly on the forest to survive.

Pilot-testing of participatory methods in the Colombian Amazon (Photo: Paul Peters)

Pilot-testing of participatory methods in the Colombian Amazon (Photo: Paul Peters)

The researchers followed a recent training on participatory methods prepared by the University of Southampton that took place in Leticia in February jointly coordinated with Conservation International (CI) and CIAT. Researchers learned to effectively use different participatory tools such as participatory GIS mapping, wellbeing rankings, transect walks, seasonal calendars, household system diagrams, cause-effect diagrams, community timelines, matrix scoring exercises, trend analysis and focus group discussions on land use, food security, coping strategies, ecosystem services and resource governance. As part of the PRA training, the researchers pre-tested the methods in a pilot site indigenous community located near Leticia.

Training in participatory methods, Leticia (Photo: Paul Peters)

Training in participatory methods, Leticia (Photo: Paul Peters)

The Lower Caqueta is characterized by the presence of large forest reserves assigned to indigenous communities that traditionally practice hunting, gathering, fishing, and slash-and-burn agriculture. The results from this region will be compared with those from the other study sites of ASSETS, where there are increasing levels of deforestation.

It is expected that PRA exercises in the Lower Caqueta will be finished by mid-June. The second phase of fieldwork data collection of the project will consist of household surveys to deepen the understanding and analysis of the topic.

The ASSETS project is supported by the ESPA initiative (Ecosystem Services for Poverty Alleviation).

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