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Guiding decision making in agriculture for a triple-win

Posted by Ricci Symons Wednesday, August 17, 2016 0 comments

A CIAT blog originally posted here

When this study called for policy makers to set realistic targets towards meeting the Paris climate agreement some weeks back, authors were calling for real milestones to measure global progress.
But action towards specific emission targets can’t happen without guidance on what change needs to happen and where. To that end, this new study outlines a methodology tried and tested within communities. It’s called the “Climate smart agriculture rapid appraisal” tool.

This tool can feed directly into pledges made by individual countries towards the Paris agreement.

It delves into social, cultural, economic and environmental contexts to present farmers – and decision makers – with exactly this: what CSA options work to meet a triple-win, increasing productivity; enhancing resilience and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, where, and why.
It’s designed to bring solutions which can feed directly into pledges made by individual countries in the Paris agreement. And, it can feed into national mitigation and adaptation programs across Africa as well.

Terraces in Lushoto Tanzania help conserve the soil.
The tool rates a list of context-specific agricultural practices which farmers use on their farm.

Ground-up targets

Focusing on two case studies in Uganda and Tanzania, the methodology provides a step-by-step guide for researchers or development organizations to present farmers with options which address the three pillars of Climate-Smart Agriculture: improved food security, adaptation and mitigation.
How? The “Rapid appraisal” tool, essentially rates a list of context-specific agricultural practices which farmers use on their farm and which boost harvests, but also lower carbon footprints and strengthen farms against the impacts of climate change in future.


“Getting the ‘ground-up’ viewpoint from farmers is vital – after-all, they are the ones to implement the practices towards targets”. 
Caroline Mwongera
Farming Systems and Climate Change specialist , CIAT
Farming systems are complex, and they differ widely across Africa. There is no solution that will fit every ecosystem; every community; every farm.
So getting the “ground-up” viewpoint from farmers is vital – after-all, they are the ones to implement the practices towards targets.
Central to the methodology is getting ideas from farmers themselves about which practices work on their farms; which new practices they might adopt in future; why and how might they work out? These “best” options – are also culturally aware, gender appropriate and likely to be adopted.

At the same time, the practices need to be realistic and scientifically sound. And they need to be part of national planning and policy, so input is needed from different stakeholders – like local-level agricultural experts, district-level extension agents, private companies, donor organizations, and policy makers – to ensure the options are practical at different levels.
The process of including both quantitative and qualitative inputs into the tool, is what separates this methodology from others. Most take one approach or the other.

From crop and climate calendars to resource mapping

To find site-specific solutions, every aspect of agriculture on the farm is rigorously analyzed through the methodology. What time of month are seeds sown? Which month are crops harvested, and who is responsible for harvesting – men or women? How will the new technology impact different social groups?
The process of investigating these questions brings to light some interesting issues. For example: imagine for a minute you don’t have internet access. You are in the field for the whole day and you’re busy. What’s the best way to reach you with an important message?
This is a question which plagues researchers, as they look for ways to get information about climate change to farmers. This methodology puts the conundrum to farmers, to find out which shops farmers frequent most, which organizations they are part of – to find places where farmers can easily be targeted with information – about drought-resilient beans, for example.


Flow of information from farmers to policy makers
Using crop and climate calendars, the methodology also aims to identify practices which are appropriate and fit within the context of the on-farm social fabric. A farmer can’t reduce the impact of a dry spell on her cattle if she can’t get water from the river for example – and she might not be able to get access to the river for a whole host of social or other reasons.
Interestingly, farmers also perceive seasons in a different way depending on things like access to resources. For example, the farmer who can’t access the river might rate a season much drier than someone who can easily water their cattle.
The report makes clear that the tool is rather a process that gathers information from stakeholders, which include smallholder farmers and groups, to guide investments at national level and build in community resilience and productivity at farm level.
The options which come up as a result of this process will not only improve food security, but also help farmers improve their lives and the environment for a triple-win.

Flow of information from farmers to policy makers

Using crop and climate calendars, the methodology also aims to identify practices which are appropriate and fit within the context of the on-farm social fabric. A farmer can’t reduce the impact of a dry spell on her cattle if she can’t get water from the river for example – and she might not be able to get access to the river for a whole host of social or other reasons.
Interestingly, farmers also perceive seasons in a different way depending on things like access to resources. For example, the farmer who can’t access the river might rate a season much drier than someone who can easily water their cattle.
The report makes clear that the tool is rather a process that gathers information from stakeholders, which include smallholder farmers and groups, to guide investments at national level and build in community resilience and productivity at farm level.
The options which come up as a result of this process will not only improve food security, but also help farmers improve their lives and the environment for a triple-win.

Call to action:

  • Locally appropriate actions can be prioritized anywhere, to identify investment opportunities linked to local and national priorities and enhance adoption of CSA technologies to cope with increasing climate change impacts.
  • Decision making on climate change adaptation and mitigation investment often focus on top-down approaches. Rather, this process should be participatory, aligning with stakeholder desires and contextual realities – this methodology does that.
  • CSA prioritization can be used by all development practitioners to identify best-bet CSA investment options that help achieve food security, increase resilience to climate change, and promote the development of a low-emissions agriculture.
This research is carried out with support from the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

Par Anja Rabezanahary, Junior Professional Officer, Genre et inclusion sociale, FIDA

Que veulent les jeunes ruraux ? C’est la question que pose le FIDA pour la Journée Internationale de la jeunesse . En cette année 2016, les Nations Unies ont choisi comme thème - La route vers 2030: Éliminer la pauvreté et parvenir à des modes de consommation et de production durables.

"Le monde compte un milliard de jeunes qui portent en eux un milliard d’espoirs d’un avenir meilleur, un milliard d’idées pour changer le monde." (un.org)


Six jours pour se mettre en route vers le changement

Six jeunes hommes et jeunes femmes membres de l’organisation paysanne Fiavotana ainsi que  douze membres du staff du programme FORMAPROD se sont rassemblés pour dessiner un avenir meilleur, le planifier, le mettre en pratique et le faire rayonner. 

Ce vendredi 12 août 2016, on célèbre la Journée Internationale de la Jeunesse et le quatrième jour de l’atelier GALS ou Gender Action Learning System (système d’apprentissage pratique sur le genre). L’atelier est organisé par le FORMAPROD à Tamatave, Madagascar, du 08 au 13 août, avec l’appui du bureau Genre du FIDA.
Notre vision : développer la couture et exporter nos produits. 

Tout commence par une vision

La vision est un excellent moyen de donner un rêve aux jeunes et les pousser à envisager une vie meilleure. L’outil appelé "Route vers la vision" permet de réfléchir sur sa vision personnelle, puis collective, la visualiser puis le dessiner.

Cette étape nous a pris deux jours entiers car elle est fondamentale dans le processus de changement.

Selon les jeunes: "L’outil de la vision nous ouvre l’esprit. La vision nous aide à penser à notre futur." Une jeune a particulièrement apprécié le dessin:  "Dans toutes les formations auxquelles j’ai assisté, j’écrivais beaucoup. Cela m’embrouillait un peu. Dans cette formation, j’ai dessiné et cela m’a aidé à comprendre ma vision."

Les membres du staff sont aussi surpris des résultats. Ils ont réalisé que quel que soit l’âge, jeune ou adulte, on peut aspirer à une vie meilleure. Pour eux, ces dessins vont faciliter leur travail d’accompagnement: "Avec la vision, je pourrai suivre plus facilement les jeunes parce que je saurai où ils veulent aller."

L’atelier offre également au staff une opportunité pour apprendre: "J’ai découvert que je pouvais apprendre au même titre que les jeunes."   

La méthodologie est inclusive, accessible à tous, même les personnes analphabètes. Tout le monde, riche ou pauvre, staff ou bénéficiaire, adulte ou enfant a besoin d’une vision pour prendre la responsabilité de sa vie.

Les jeunes discutent, définissent et dessinent  leur vision collective.

Une vision à réaliser avec tous les membres du ménage, du groupe et de la communauté

Ensuite, les jeunes et les participants ont analysé les activités, les ressources, les décisions et les dépenses réalisées au sein du ménage. Ils ont identifié les déséquilibres et les changements qu’ils souhaitent apporter pour une meilleure harmonie, un meilleur équilibre dans le ménage pour réaliser leurs visions. 

L’outil de l’Arbre d’équilibre du genre est une belle découverte: "Nous dépensons trop d’argent, pour se coiffer, pour se maquiller, pour le téléphone et Facebook, pour les jeux vidéo, etc. Nous passons trop de temps devant la télé, à se balader et bavarder entre amis. Ce temps et cet argent, nous pourrions l’utiliser pour travailler à atteindre notre vision."

Pour le staff, cet outil était aussi une excellente occasion de comprendre les questions liées au genre. "L’arbre d’équilibre du genre a permis de comprendre les questions liées au genre sans théorie. Cela devient facile à saisir et à comprendre à travers cet outil."

Aujourd’hui, chaque participant définira comment il  partagera la méthodologie aux membres de son ménage, de son groupe et de sa communauté. Il quittera l’atelier avec une vision sur un an pour mettre en pratique son propre changement, celui de son ménage et également de sa communauté.

Une méthodologie très appréciée par le personnel du FORMAPROD

Au fur et à mesure de l’atelier, les participants réalisent la pertinence de la méthodologie pour leur mandat auprès des jeunes ruraux et des exploitations agricoles familiales.

Des jeunes femmes discutent des inégalités au sein de leurs ménages
"Le GALS offre un  moyen d’identifier les besoins pour la formation des jeunes et leurs parents au niveau des communes et pour les encourager à prendre en main leur développement."

"La méthodologie de facilitation est très participative, tout le monde peut s’exprimer et interagir. De nombreuses méthodes ont été combinées, avec beaucoup de pratique, aidant à une meilleure compréhension de l’approche. Ces techniques de facilitation pourront facilement être répliquées dans les communautés. L’utilisation de visuels n’exige pas de  compétences en art de dessiner. Une fois adoptés, les symboles permettent de comprendre plus facilement sa situation et celle des autres."

Beaucoup d’espoir est né de l’atelier, un désir de changement et une vision d’un futur meilleur. Main dans la main, le projet et les bénéficiaires vont alors entamer la route vers l’achèvement de leurs visions. 

Rendez-vous dans un futur proche pour partager les changements advenus et lire de nouvelles histoires.

Les conseillers en insertion professionnelle des jeunes du projet.

What do rural youth want? Ma Van Hieu

Posted by Beate Stalsett Friday, August 12, 2016 0 comments

In honour of International Youth Day, held annually on 12 August, IFAD is featuring seven rural youth from around the world to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face, and to discover what they need in order to improve their lives and feed the world.


Name: Ma Van Hieu
Age: 27
Location: Yeng Thuong, Viet nam

In this interview, Chloé Desjonquères, a development studies student from France speaks with Ma Van Hieu, 27, a tea farmer from Viet nam. Van Hieu live in Yen Thuong, a small, remote village near the centre of the country and is married with two children. He was recently chosen by a local project implementer as a successful role model in his community.

Below is their conversation -

Q: Can you describe what you do to earn a living?
“I am a tea farmer.”

Q: How did you get into this type of work?
“In my village, people traditionally work as tea farmers. My parents worked with tea, so I followed in their footsteps.”

Q: What are some of the main challenges you face living in a rural community?
“Some of the challenges we face as tea farmers are climate change and the droughts, especially during the last two years. Droughts reduce tea yields and lower our income.”

Q: How did you overcome these challenges?
“ To overcome these challenges, my family decided to start producing livestock, and I sometimes work as hired labor. My wife takes care of the livestock production, and I work as a construction worker.”

Q: What support did you receive?
“We got a lot of support from the IFAD supported Agriculture, Farmers and Rural Areas Support Project (TNSP). TNSP provides us with input (fertilizers and pesticides) for the tea plantation. We also receive training for tea cultivation, and sometimes we go to the livestock production training.”

Q: What issues concern you the most as a young person?
“As a young person, I am very concerned about climate change, because of its negative impact on yields. And it is very difficult for young people to earn a living in rural areas because, traditionally, we have to follow our family’s line of work and we cannot do anything else. It is important to focus on that work and to dedicate ourselves to our family tradition.”

Q: What do you think are the biggest opportunities for young people?
“In the village the Youth Union is a great opportunity because by earning more money we can contribute to the common fund, and help younger generations with their farming.”

Q: What do you think governments and development agencies can do to support rural youth in your community?
“We are very thankful for the international donors and government support. The funds provide us with a lot of encouragement to make a living and develop our production. Even more support - in infrastructure and technology - would help us improve our productivity and living conditions.”


Q: Some young people may have a negative view of farming, rural areas and agriculture. What are your thoughts?

“Some young people may think negatively of rural life, but I think we have to try our best to develop our village and community with what we have. I think it is possible to achieve this through tea farming and livestock production, so that everyone can have a better life.”

Q: What do you think would make rural life attractive to young people?

“To make this life more attractive to young people, rural areas need to improve the overall infrastructure and technology to facilitate our daily work and help us earn a better income.”

Q: What is the greatest lesson you have learnt in life so far?

“The greatest lesson I have learned in life is that it is important to focus on helping younger generations. I hope to help make the lives of younger generations, of my community, and of my family better.”

Q: Who inspires you in your life?

“My parents inspire me the most because they encourage me to be dedicated to and carefully pay attention to their plantation and livestock production. Thanks to them, I have improved our lives with farming.”

Q: What advice would you give to other young people who want to do what you are doing?

“I would advise young people to focus on their career, because in farming dedication is very important. They should focus and apply the knowledge they get to have good production. The training helped me a lot to be more dedicated to my production.”

Q: What are your dreams and plants for the future?

“In the future, my plans are to keep tending my plantation so I can achieve my dream of having a better income for my family and contributing more to the Youth Union.”


In honour of International Youth Day, held annually on 12 August, IFAD is featuring seven rural youth from around the world to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face, and to discover what they need in order to improve their lives and feed the world.




Name:  Marian Taore
Age:  19
Location: Sokourani village, Mali

In this interview, Sekou Coulibaly, an IFAD project advisor from Mali spoke with Mariam Taore, 19, a young mother living in a remote rural community about 10 km from the capital of the municipality of Narena. Taore was born with albinism, a congenital disorder in which people lack colour pigmentation in their skin, hair, and eye. Her parents were the founders of her village.

Below is their conversation -


Q: Could you describe what you do to earn a living? How did you get into this type of work?

A: Every day I go looking for vegetables and other fruit products available depending on the period and sought after on the market. I buy them and sell them along the road, located in one kilometer from the village to passers-by, motorists, motorcyclists, passengers or even the villagers and so on.


Q: What are some of the challenges you face living in a rural community?

"The challenges are huge. Poverty, loss of profits, lack of employment or income generating opportunities, lack of training or professional learning, no modern facilities, no schooling opportunities for children etc.”

Q: What key issues concern you most as a young person?

"As albinos, we are often totally excluded and we have to even hide sometimes."

Q: What are your plans/dreams for the future?

"I want to specialize in poultry farming. I want to have a large farm with poultry, various chickens, guinea fowl etc. My dream is to become a major producer recognized in the area. I want to be known as someone whose handicap did not stop them from being open to the world and starting a business."

Q: Some young people may have a negative view of farming, rural areas, and agriculture. What are your own views/thoughts?

"Young people have ambition but not the means to achieve them. Many move to the cities or even try and migrate to Europe to work! My opinion is that living in a rural environment is like living in paradise. There is not a lot of noise and lot of natural clean air."

Q: What do you think would make rural life attractive to young people?

A: Create conditions for expansion. Build cultural houses, organize activities, cultural events, training centers and provide communities with light and basic needs (mills, drinking water, health, and social structures).

Q: What has been the greatest lessons you have learned so far?

A: I have learned that working hard pays off. I have learned that patience is a golden path riddled with uncertainty but better than deadly landslides in the mines [laughs]."

Q: Who inspires you in your life?

A: It is a widow in my community. She is very brave with a rather extraordinary story. She has had success through market garden production activities in the village. She's a fighter woman who inspires me."

Q: What advice would you give to other young people who want to do what you are doing?

A: Do what you love to do. Fight hard. Give a lot of attention and expertise towards what you are doing. Put your heart in it."



In honour of International Youth Day, held annually on 12 August, IFAD is featuring seven rural youth from around the world to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face, and to discover what they need in order to improve their lives and feed the world.




Name: Carlos Melendez
Age: 28
Location:  Caserio El Espejo, Urdaneta municipality, Venezuela

In this interview, Paulina Schwaner, an IFAD consultant and former Chilean journalist, speaks with Carlos Meléndez, 28, a dairy and vegetable farmer from Venezuela.

Meléndez began raising his own animals and growing vegetables around the age of 16. After several failed attempts, he finally managed to hit his stride. Meléndez has now become a successful dairy and vegetable producer in his rural community in north-east Venezuela.

Below is their conversation -

Q: Carlos, you began working in agriculture when you were very young. You are now a successful rural entrepreneur and a community leader. How would you describe your journey?

“In life, you lose some and you win some. During the rough patches, it is normal to try to cling onto the good memories and successes to keep going in order to attain your goal. In my experience, it was not easy at the beginning because I could not count on anyone's help; I only had my own resources and my goal clear in my mind, but no financial support. Up to now, I feel that I have not yet achieved all my ambitions, therefore, I have to keep working towards that. That is why I can tell everyone: you need to have an objective and work hard to attain it.”

Q: You had a vision, you dug and you found water. How important is water for your community? How do you address the challenges of water scarcity?

“Water and soil are two essential elements for life, without them one cannot work to produce food.  In my village in Venezuela, as well as in the rest of the world, we are going through a difficult moment as the water is getting more and more scarce and it is harder to find. Five years ago, I dug a bore well with my own hands.

Unfortunately, I could not find any water near my land, so I had to move two kilometers away to get water. Finally, thanks to electric engines, I managed to get some water out of the ground and I could start producing. During the year, we collect water in a dam to irrigate the crops. But due to the alarming water scarcity and pests we are limited to growing fewer plants. There have been tough years and we have also been hit by the change in climate.”

Q: How did you face the issues that were challenging your work? What kind of support did you receive?

“My family really helped a lot when I had challenges in my work and I must admit that the past few years have been quite hard, but I am doing all I can to make things better. My wife played a pivotal role in my success as she comes from a family of farmers and she understands when things get difficult in the field, therefore she was the one who has helped me the most. The truth is that when I fell in love with her, I also fell in love with crops and the rural life. I am saying this from the bottom of my heart.”

Q: As a young entrepreneur and community leader, what do you think is the biggest potential that young people possess? What kind of advice would you give to rural youth?

“Sometimes in life, we need to overcome hurdles before we can achieve our goals. We, as young people, go through several life experiences that make us stronger and our biggest potential lies in having time, strength and a long path before us. My advice to young people who want to start working in rural areas is to work with commitment and with love for what they are doing because this way you will surely achieve positive results.”

Q: How, in your opinion, could governments and development agencies alike support rural youth?

“Governments should create more institutions that take into account the needs of young entrepreneurs. For example, here in Venezuela, the IFAD-supported Sustainable Rural Development Project for Food Security in the Semiarid Zones of Lara and Falcon States (PROSALAFA III) project has helped me a lot through capacity building and workshops on animal rearing.

More institutions should take into account the plight of rural youth, because there is a general lack of attention to young people. However, we are slowly starting to see young people getting involved in institutions and taking a leadership role. For example, I am currently the spokesperson of my area’s food committee within a broader network called Mercal. The network helps to connect raw materials and food rations with 220 families from the municipality and my community. I have been lucky that I have been entrusted with this position.”

Q: Your experience in agriculture has been quite positive, however, some young people have a negative outlook on agriculture. How could we make agriculture and rural life more attractive for those youth?

“I come from a family that has had nothing to do with agriculture, however, I have been fascinated with rural life. You need incentives to engage youth in agriculture. This is the reason why I have always been convinced that schools should provide classes on agriculture from the very first grade to high school graduation and it should be based on the understanding that without agricultural production there is no food. These classes should also stress the importance that agriculture holds for our lives. This is what should be taught to the generations to come.”

Q: What are the challenges that you see yourself facing in the future, both as an individual and as part of a community?

“My main challenge is becoming a successful agricultural and goat farmer, empowering my area, my local municipality and my country too. I would like to generate employment in my community and become a role model for young people. A very specific need we have in my community is for a satellite connection so that we can be connected with the rest of the world. Right now, we need to travel for about one hour from our village to get phone network, and clearly, we don't have an Internet connection either. If we had a communication network our life would be much better and we could work more easily.”


In honour of International Youth Day, held annually on 12 August, IFAD is featuring seven rural youth from around the world to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face, and to discover what they need in order to improve their lives and feed the world.



Name: Sofiatou Ouedraogo
Age: 34
Location: Burkina Faso

In this interview, Mathilde Zins, an IFAD intern from France, speaks with Sofiatou Ouedraogo, 34, an entrepreneur from Burkina Faso.

After studying in the city, Ouedraogo decided to work in rural communities and has set up an organization that offers services to rural enterprises and small farmers, helping them to access finance, training and inputs.

Below is their conversation -


Q: Describe what you do to earn a living?

“I am the founder of Hourya Advice, which is an enterprise that provides a range of services and consultancies adapted to the needs of rural areas. We work to promote entrepreneurship and facilitate contact between local entrepreneurs and existing support systems in rural areas.”

Q: How did you start to do this job?

“For my education, I completed a Bachelor in Management in Rural Micro Business. I then worked as a business consultant for a project financed by IFAD. I've seen that there was potential in rural areas, and I have continued my work as a business consultant.”

Q: What are some of the challenges you face living in a rural community?

“There are different challenges. First, there is a strong need for services aimed at rural women. Consultancies are important for entrepreneurs, and incomes are low. The second challenge is illiteracy as well as social and cultural considerations.

During the project and programme that I carry on in the community, I try to explain what people can do [to increase their incomes]. I work to activate the partners in the community and show the potential of local products and practices.

Q: What key issues concern you most as a young person?

“There is a huge lack of trust in young people by financial partners. There is also reluctance from men to follow women's advice. Some people do not accept that women can become independent. I am the oldest in my family. I had to manage four siblings, manage my private life and professional life. When women dare [to dream], we can do it.”

Q: How did you overcome/address your challenges?

“Since 2008, I have evolved my consultancy to target rural areas. Now I want to develop cross-cutting aspects of my business. I want to be able to provide services in rural areas from the beginning to the end to satisfy all the needs of small farmers. I hope to invite graduate students to create more engagement for entrepreneurship in rural communities. I'm looking for associates for my project, two or three that can help rural entrepreneurs.”

Q: What do you think governments and development agencies can do to support rural youth in your community?

“We have to make agriculture more modern in order to make it more attractive. Today, young people don't conceive a farm as a business since they don't conceive that it can be profitable. Also, we need to make water available and facilitate the settlement of young people. For example, land insecurity for young people is a big issue. We always ask for experience in order for youth to get access to financial products, which is difficult to have when they are young and just starting.”

Q: What are your plans/dreams for the future?

“I want to grow my own business and become the main rural entrepreneurship resource. I want to add a branch in agricultural production and the processing of agricultural products, livestock and literacy. I would like my business to collaborate with financial structures capable of helping young people to undertake new ventures.”

Q: Some young people may have a negative view of farming, rural areas and agriculture. What are your own views/thoughts?

“My country's education system does not introduce entrepreneurship in vocational training schools and universities. It would be a good thing to promote agriculture and livestock training in schools.”

Q: What has been the greatest lessons you have learned so far?

A: Many lessons! I have learnt that rural areas are bursting with potential, however many rural areas have poor access to development opportunities. Many of the financial products that are available are not adapted to rural areas.”

Q: What advice would you give to other young people who want to do what you are doing?

“To live and work with the rural population, it is necessary to know the local needs and strategies needed to best support rural businesses. Also, try and gather some experience. My first job at an IFAD-supported project allowed me to have the experience in this field. You have to work for the long term, while taking risks and daring to try new things.”

In honour of International Youth Day, held annually on 12 August, IFAD is featuring seven rural youth from around the world to discuss the challenges and opportunities they face, and to discover what they need in order to improve their lives and feed the world.


Name:  Dali Ángel Pérez
Age: 28
Location:  Zapoteco region, Mexico

In this interview, Paulina Schwaner, an IFAD consultant and former journalist from Chile, spoke with Dali Ángel Pérez, 28, a young indigenous leader from the Zapoteca, the indigenous people of Mexico.

When Pérez was a child, her family fell victim to the ongoing agrarian conflict and were forced to flee their homes to take refuge elsewhere. Years passed before they were able to return to their home. Pérez became committed to defending her land which belonged to her forefathers and was soon bestowed upon her.

Driven by the idea that young people have a responsibility towards defending the land, she set out to empower and educate indigenous peoples of her community through an IFAD-supported organization, CIARENA.

Today she is the co-chair of the Indigenous Youth Caucus that is represented at the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.

Below is their conversation -


Q: Dalí, at 24-years-old you were awarded the National Youth Award in Mexico 2012 in the Human Rights category. What did it mean for you to receive this award?

“The prize is a recognition given by the Mexican government to youth in general. This was not a prize aimed at ‘indigenous’ youth as such and I was nominated by different organizations in which I have been involved. It is not an individual award, rather I like to consider it a recognition of all the work we along with other young people at a community level are doing.

Certainly, the award has been an incentive for further progress, but not everybody sees it as a final goal but rather a resource that gave us an opportunity to promote the participation of young people, even though, there is still much to be done, especially with public policy issues addressed to indigenous youth.”

Q: Currently you are working with an Indigenous women’s organization called CIARENA. What is your role there?

“My role in CIARENA is coordinating the youth and childhood committee that looks into representing and building on youth aspirations through workshops.

We are a committee composed of six young people who work daily in the communities to advocate and provide tools for human rights and rights of indigenous peoples and, specifically, the rights of indigenous children and youth.

After a series of training, these young people form their own collectives (groups) and define what activities that young people can organize in groups and replicate in communities and disseminate information.”

Q: In your line of work, what challenges have you faced?

“Our main challenge is highlighting the regional and community level issues youth face in an international arena. One fundamental challenge has been attempting to have more youth representation in these spaces.

We seek to encourage other young people from communities to participate, but it is not always easy because sometimes there is a lack of appreciation for youth participation. In fact, sometimes we hear people say: “What are young people doing here when they don’t know the history?”

Some elders see youth as being inexperienced and this discourages young people from getting involved. Although, we have found great leaders who have supported us, such as Dr. Myrna Cunningham, who has always encouraged us to continue to participate and acquire the tools to be informed and have clear messages that we want to communicate because if we don’t have that, we will not achieve anything.”

Q: What do you think is the greatest potential of young people?

“Young people are innovative with fresh ideas and are full of energy. We want to change the world and the current negative situations that young people are living in. There are many indigenous young people who want to change their history of violence and discrimination and racism. Indigenous youth want to change this and turn the issues around. We have great energy and desire for change.”

Q:What do you think could make rural life more attractive for young people?

“In our communities, there are a lot of youth migrating and they go to the cities or they go to the United States for a number of reasons and factors. To begin with, there is a lack of support towards rural development and for young people to achieve their own initiatives.

With the lack of support, these situations lead to depression amongst young people. In the area where we work, there are many agrarian and land conflicts and the young generations are finding it difficult to access land in order to cultivate crops.

Since they cannot see a way to survive in their communities they decide to migrate to seek opportunities. There is also a big problem on the issue of identity; many young people don’t want to accept their identity, either they don’t want to feel indigenous or they deny it.”

Q: How do you envision the future for indigenous youth people in Latin America?

“I think that there has been much progress on indigenous peoples issues that were previously not recognized as such; at least now people call us indigenous peoples.

The theme indigenous youth is starting to emerge as it has happened with indigenous women. I feel in the near future, the articulation of indigenous youth will progress together with the collective rights of indigenous peoples.

If we continue to work in coordination with other indigenous movements, indigenous women – not individually but collectively – we will definitely move forward. And this remains, in the years to come, we will see a change in public policies within the institutions that have to do with youth, where there will be a real participation of indigenous youth that would narrow the gaps.”

Q: And for you?

“I want to keep working with indigenous peoples and indigenous women. We have to keep sowing the seeds for the new generations and I want to take this process forward adding more people to the growing movement. I see myself accompanying this movement from where I am based.”