PCAB programs encourage quilombola communities to map public policies and strengthen their cultural and territorial identity

"The results have been important to the protection of quilombola rights and territories; the recognition of our cultural wealth, including family farming, hunting, fishing; and the identification of our struggles." Raimundo Magno, Network of Remaining Quilombo Communities in Pará (MALUNGU)


"The quilombola world has become more widely known, both by the communities themselves, and by others who did not know them well." Celenita Gualberto, Tocantins State Network of Quilombola Communities (COEQTO)


"The project has given young people the opportunity to engage in data collection. When we are the researchers, and not just a research object, our community develops more trust." Elizabete, Quilombo Ribeirão Mutuca Rural Black Community Association, in the state of Mato Grosso


Celenita’s, Raimundo, and Elizabete’s words are an amalgamation of quilombola communities’ assessment of results of the New Technologies and Sharing Worlds program. All three participated in an online event held in early December, which marked the end of another project stage. 

The programs lasted for nearly 15 years, and benefited more than 200 traditional communities, including quilombolas and Indigenous Peoples, in the nine states that form the Legal Amazon. Key initiatives included surveys and socioeconomic analyses. The programs are a result of a partnership involving USAID/Brazil, the Amazon Conservation Team (ECAM), CONAQ, Google Earth Outreach, Imaflora, and Natura.

The studies supported communities in their quest for autonomy and sustainable development. The results include the publication "Quilombos and quilombolas in the Amazon: The challenges of (re)cognition.” The survey was carried out by over 100 communities in six states. the inclusion of quilombolas in the official census carried out by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE); and the inclusion of CONAQ and ECAM in a working group of the National Plan for Quilombola Response to COVID -19.

"This publication has become a reference for awareness-raising among civil society and local, regional, and federal government about the presence, strength, and identity of quilombola communities in the Amazon. Our global objective is to empower communities with technological tools, especially at this stage during the COVID-19 pandemic – as in a reference to the famous phrase “Information is power”. Considering the ability to analyze information, and the power to reveal the presence and identity of quilombola communities, I enjoyed Magno's examples about the possibility of defending rights, improving territorial management, and making decisions about the future of communities. This is essential," said Catherine Hamlin, USAID/Brazil’s Director of Environmental Programs.

She also mentioned the fact that the event was held right after November, the month when Brazil celebrates Black Awareness. "It is important, at this moment, to highlight the racial and ethnic diversity of Brazil and the Amazon. We are reflecting on the importance of communities as project beneficiaries for the future of the forest.”

Hamlin also highlighted the role of traditional populations in protecting the Amazon. “Climate change is a very real crisis, and one of the lessons we have learned about biodiversity conservation and sustainable development is that we need to develop the communities that live in the area. With the results of this project, communities can now show how development is achieved not only through ecosystem and biome conservation, but also through human identity."

For the program coordinator Meline Machado, mapping public policies and the challenges people face when accessing these policies was essential to support communities in their efforts. “It is necessary to strengthen the communities and the quilombola movement in order to continue demanding public policies that match the reality of our local communities. I believe that these programs had an important impact on their claims, and helped to strengthen these populations,” she said.

ECAM's executive director Vasco van Roosmalen highlighted the results of the program. “Some impacts were amazing, and had national reach, such as the Supreme Court ruling in favor of vaccination and COVID-19 prevention actions for quilombolas. This project has put quilombola communities on the map,” he stated. 

Among these continuous results, José Carlos Galiza from CONAQ stated the surveys carried out in Pará will be used for the georeferencing of 20 areas and will be included in land regularization processes. 

Background – The project started in 2007, when the Paiter Suruí Indigenous People contacted Google Earth Outreach to develop a cultural mapping of their region. The objective was to keep the forest standing and preserve the history and culture of the Suruí. The project, known as New Technologies, was expanded to other communities in the Amazon. As a result, new data collection tools were added and there was an increase of community visibility.

About 230 young quilombolas were trained to use the tools. The knowledge was shared in their communities and reached over 800 people, who also started working on data collection and analysis. 

Building on these successful activities, New Technologies launched a second phase, known as Sharing Worlds, aimed at assisting communities in analyzing data. It focused on strategic use of information to support the demands identified by the communities in the areas of health, infrastructure, and food safety etc. The program objectives included developing a format that could be adaptable to different realities and communities in the Amazon. 

More information on the results of Sharing Worlds is available here (in Portuguese). Watch the closing event (in Portuguese only).