Internet access and hygiene protocols introduced by projects supported by PCAB became lifelines for rural populations in the Amazon State

Deep in the Amazon forest, communities whose contact with the outside world depended on long boat trips lasting days, became more isolated because of the COVID-19. In the last few years satellite internet and hygiene protocols brought by a PCAB supported project in the Medio Juruá river, became increasingly  useful in communities managing pirarucu fish.

São Raimundo, Roque and Nova Esperança communities, whose only access to the rest of the world is by a 36 hour trip on the Juruá river, followed the spike of cases in the city through the satellite wi-fi installed by the Medio Juruá Territory project to facilitate access to market prices for sustainable forest products.

With travel restricted to prevent the spread of the disease, news could be watched on TV, but communications from the communities relied heavily on the internet. That included requests for health assistance. By October, the whole municipality had almost 3,500 cases and 22 deaths, according to official data. 

The producers association (ASPROC), an important local partner in the medio Juruá Territory Project (an initiative of Coca-Cola and Natura, coordinated by SITAWI, which is PCAB’s implementing partner) installed the internet in the communities back in 2018.

Together with pirarucu managers from the Médio Juruá and other partners, ASPROC has sought to improve the wild pirarucu value chain in a project coordinated by the Chico Mendes Institute for Biodiversity Conservation (ICMBio), with technical assistance of the US Forest Service, highlighting the responsibility of increasing conservation by mobilizing and organizing local communities.

"The internet has been an important achievement, as people can now communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world, at any time. In addition to benefiting individuals who were previously isolated, this is also an important collective tool," explains Adevaldo Dias, from ASPROC.

Safety steps

As it happened with other food supply chains, the work has not stopped in those remote communities because of the pandemic. ASPROC staff and local pirarucu counters ran the fishing visual counting in the fresh water lakes formed after the river recedes in the dry season, in July. With the total numbers, they can calculate the quotas for fishing this year during the season (September to November). 

Additional protocols were put in place, such as testing all people involved in the fishing operation, including vessel crews. In addition, health professionals accompanied the works. 

ASPROC has been participating in the Collective Pirarucu since last year and is part of the Taste of the Amazon brand, sold in big markets such as São Paolo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília. An increasing number of communities have practiced the pirarucu sustainable management as an important source of income. In the whole State of Amazonas ASPROC affiliated communities have grown from eight in 2015 to 60 in 2019, reaching now 11 protected areas. Almost 300,000 kilos are being sold to consumers and the fishing season is now in full swing despite the pandemic and with increased hygiene and safety measures. 

Learn more about the Médio Juruá Territory Program here.