Innovative training program promotes experience sharing to strengthen community project management

With an innovative, collaborative and demand-based approach, the Formar Gestão training program has its focus on experience sharing. Fifty-one participants from several regions in the Amazon attend, and include collectors, representatives from Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities, managers of local associations and cooperatives, as well as advisers to civil society organizations. 

Formar Gestão gives them an opportunity to improve and strengthen their knowledge on legislation, management techniques, leadership, and other topics. They were selected from communities in protected areas supported by the Partnership for the Conservation of Amazon Biodiversity (PCAB).

The program – scheduled to last until early 2022 – has four thematic modules: organization, governance, finance, and marketing. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is being delivered online. 

Formar Gestão builds on the experience of the International Institute of Education of Brazil (IEB) with Formar Castanha: a modular program aimed at training Brazil nut collectors on good practices and marketing for the Brazil nut sustainable value chain. It is part of the Program on Sustainable Value Chain and Territorial and Environmental Management of Protected Areas in the Amazon. This project is supported by USAID/Brazil through the PCAB and managed by IEB. 

The teaching committee includes representatives from seven organizations: Native Amazon Operation (OPAN), Water Pact (PACTO), Vitória Amazônica Foundation (FVA), Chico Mendes Memorial (MCM), Mamirauá Sustainable Development Institute (IDSM), Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), and the US Forest Service (USFS). 

Participants share their experience in Formar Gestão:

1) Karolina Paz de Matos – Karolina is an açaí and wood manager at the Arioca Pruanã Extractive Reserve, located in the municipality of Oeiras do Pará. She is also a member of the Arioca Pruanã Extractive Reserve's Residents Association.

“Some women in our community have a very active engagement, but they are still a minority. That's why I joined the association and started participating in local projects. I decided to attend Formar Gestão because I realized that I need to learn more about management, legislation, and project management, as well as how to deal with the public. I saw Formar Gestão as an opportunity to make up for some gaps in my training.

It’s been very enriching to participate and meet people from other states and other value chains, such as the pirarucu. The training sessions highlight what needs to be improved in each project, and they enable us to exchange knowledge and ideas with people from different regions. The Amazon is very diverse, and this is enriching.

I would like to invite all women to expand their participation in projects, training, and other programs. We feel very small among so many men, and many women feel cornered. But this barrier needs to be overcome. We have to hold hands to give other women more confidence, and let them know they will be supported.”

2) Josias Cebirop Gavião – Josias is a Gavião Indigenous leader from the Igarapé Lourdes Indigenous land (TI), in the municipality of Ji-Paraná (state of Rondônia). He is also the secretary of the Zavidjah Djiguhr Indigenous Association (ASSIZA).

“I have always wanted to attend management training programs. I felt the need to do that because of our Indigenous Association. At Formar Gestão, we have the opportunity to keep in touch with people from other regions, and representatives of different Indigenous movements. These are things we had heard about, but never got involved with. In this exchange of experiences, we can understand how these issues influence our association.

We need to train our people, getting them involved and to attract them to the association. With a new vision and reality, we ought to restructure our internal processes so that young people have an opportunity to work, whether in the administration of the organization or through it. 

Now we are encouraging people to produce more – not only the Brazil nuts, which are already part of our culture (and keep us busy a few months of the year), but also other crops: bananas, cassava, manioc… We want to place these products in an institutional market, to generate income for families. Formar Gestão will increase this, adding elements that can deepen and strengthen the association.”

3) Breno Zúnica – Breno is a coordinator at Formar Gestão and a socio environmental analyst at the Brazilian Education Institute (IEB). 

“It's been very interesting to learn about different perspectives on management, projects, and territories. It is also interesting to see how people work together. Our participants include both young and older people – some aged 50 or more. Some projects are very recent, while others are more consolidated – operating in different areas, and sometimes setting the base price for their products in the region. The course participants include very diverse people, and our discussions have been very fruitful. 

As the course is online, we have noticed that some people find it harder to access or handle technology. But we have been trying to overcome these obstacles, seeking alternatives such as discussions in smaller groups during class, or exchanging messages through WhatsApp.

This is a first-ever course, adapted and customized to the realities of these projects. Both our activities during the course and our contact with course participants are constant. We use their feedback to plan our next sessions. It is the first time that we run a course focused on the reality of community projects in the Amazon, including all their particularities – and that makes a huge difference.”

More information about Formar Gestão is available in Portuguese here