Indigenous Peoples Generate Income and Create Training Opportunities

Indigenous lands in Maranhão improve management of 2 million hectares

April, 2023 – The Integrated Environmental and Territorial Management in Eastern Amazon Indigenous Lands project supports 3,500 Indigenous people with new income generation opportunities. It recently delivered training to 300 students and they developed collective territorial management actions. 

Since 2019, over 2 million hectares of Indigenous lands benefited from improved management. These results were presented during the program's evaluation and closing meeting, held on March 21-22 in Imperatriz, Maranhão. Indigenous representatives discussed priorities and strategies for integrated environmental and territorial management of Indigenous lands in Maranhão and in northern Tocantins.

This USAID/Brazil sponsored project was implemented by the Centro de Trabalho Indigenista (CTI) with the Instituto Sociedade, População e Natureza (ISPN). It involved the Associação Wyty Catë das Comunidades Timbira do Maranhão e Tocantins, Coordenação das Organizações e Articulações dos Povos Indígenas do Maranhão  (COAPIMA) e Articulação das Mulheres Indígenas do Maranhão (AMIMA). 

The project contributed to the development and implementation of Territorial and Environmental Management Plans (PGTAs); continued the training of Indigenous environmental agents; and helped to promote small community projects aimed at conservation, sociocultural reproduction, and income generation for over three years.

Other achievements included the increased engagement of Indigenous women in training programs, events, expeditions, and inclusion of their perspectives to socioenvironmental conservation. Indigenous representative organizations were technically and politically strengthened.

In addition, Indigenous youth communicators were trained in Maranhão and Northern Tocantins.  Forty Indigenous students, including 17 female students were engaged in the promising program. 

The program was divided into four modules: Indigenous Leadership; Introduction to Photography; Introduction to Audiovisual Production; and Introduction to Graphic Design for Social Networks. It included face-to-face and online classes. Students were given technical equipment to develop their own productions (more information here)

Distance Learning – To address the difficulties resulting from social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, between 2020 and early 2021, the project delivered distance training. This was an important component to support the project beneficiaries during a difficult period. 

Known as Pryhhrejara Wiràmiri—Territorial and Environmental Management in Indigenous Lands, the program was accredited and considered an extension program by the State University of Maranhão (UEMA). It involved Indigenous students from other communities, as well as non-Indigenous public servants and social justice activists. 

The program delivered basic training on the National Policy for Land and Environmental Management of Indigenous Lands (PNGATI) and topics associated with sustainable territorial and environmental management, including on Indigenous Peoples' rights and climate change. 

During the closing seminar, course participants shared testimonials about the importance of the course in their development (available below). 

According to the Program Manager, Pollyana Mendonça, the challenges posed by the pandemic led to adjustments to ensure the original goals were met and new results were added. “The range of results included direct improvements in the villages as well as wider territorial management beyond the boundaries of Indigenous lands, building on socioenvironmental studies carried out under the project,” she adds.