Partnership with the Asháninka people
Climate protection in the Peruvian rainforest
The City of Munich has been a member of the Climate Alliance (Klima-Bündnis e.V.) for many years. With this, Munich has committed itself to massively reducing CO2 emissions, to not using tropical timber and to supporting indigenous rainforsest peoples. In 1997, this led to a climate partnership with the indigenous people of the Asháninka in the Amazon rainfo
With approximately 80,000 people, the Asháninka are the largest indigenous people in the Peruvian rainforest. Due to the tranditional way of life of the indigenous peoples, the tropical rainforest is protected – and only with them can the rainforest also be preserved in the future. However, the Asháninka fight against the increasing threat to and destruction of their livelihood. Massive overexploitation by timber companies, the drug mafia, land seizures for industrial agriculture as well as the pollution of rivers due to mining and illegal gold mining are the greatest dangers.
The three pillars of the cooperation
- Support for specific projects in the Asháninka village communities
- Political support to protect the rainforest and its inhabitants
- Education and information campaigns to raise awareness in Munich for the significance of the Amazon rainforest for the world's climate
That way not only the Asháninka benefit from the partnership, but also Munich citizens, in particular due to encounters with the indigenous people. During their stays in Munich, they share about their life in the rainforest, the direct effects of climate change and about their concept of life: “Buen vivir” (The good life) in daycare facilities and schools as well as at expert discussions and conferences.
Munich residents have various opportunities to support the Asháninka: For instance by buying the fair trade München-Kaffees / Munich coffee, the rainforest calendar as well as the crafts by the Asháninka. With the proceeds, projects in the village communities are supported. People are very welcome to also get involved in the Arbeitskreis München- Asháninka of the Nord Süd Forum München e.V., actively supporting the partnership.
The cooperation projects
The cooperation between Munich and the Asháninka is characterised by a cooperation on an equal footing. The indigenous partners themselves develop suggestions for projects or for long-term support. In addition to providing some small financial support, Munich gives political backing for the issues of the rainforest people.
An essential aspect of the partnership is the support in terms of securing collective land rights. Traditionally, in indigenous villages, there is no private property. The village community only grants usage rights for the communal land . The common land can only be protected legally and be secured with an officially acknowledged and registered land title. The official recognition of the land rights is a lengthy and, for the village communities, costly process. With the help of Munich, the Asháninka could secure more than 35, 000 hectares of rainforest.
In places where the rainforest has been destroyed by timber companies, oil production or new settlers, the village communities struggle with the negative consequences: lack of food, a changed microclimate, water scarcity as well as simultaneous floods after heavy rainfalls. These challenges are met by several reforestation projects.
As an important element of the cooperation, bilingual education and cultural identity is promoted. Publishing the Asháninka-Spanish dictionary has great significance for the bilingual education. Until recently, also other reading materials in the language of the Asháninka have barely been available. The Association of Bilingual Teachers has thus tracked down oral stories and published a bilingual storybook. A selection of these stories is available in German
With the support of Munich, small registrar's offices were established in several villages of the Rio Negro district and approximately 20 indigenous registrars were trained, who by now also perform wedding ceremonies. Because in the past, oftentimes, the entry in the official birth register was not possible. Without birth certificates, however, the Asháninka were not able to attend school, to obtain an identity card and to vote. In this district, almost 95 percent of the people now possess valid birth certificates and identity cards and can thus exercise their civil rights.
Munich supports various initiatives of the Asháninka in terms of a solidarity-based economy. So women from several villages have specialised in producing jewellery made from natural rainforest materials. The women's groups are very successful: They now have a small shop and a company with its own label. With the proceeds, also training courses can be financed. The Arbeitskreis Asháninka of the Nord Süd Forum München e.V. sells the natural jewellery in Munich.