Paraguay Lower Chaco
$28,599 needed of $90,000
Church World Service (CWS)
The Gran Chaco region is an immense and little-heard-of region in the heart of South America. It is the biggest forest reserve on the continent after the Amazon and one of the largest dry forests in the world. A major ecosystem, it is also a region with great cultural diversity, home to 25 different indigenous ethnic groups including communities of Guarani, Wichi, Qom and Enxet Sur, who for centuries lived as semi-nomadic hunter gatherers before losing most of their land.
The purpose of this three‐year program is to partner with 588 families (approximately 2,200 people) in six indigenous communities (16 villages) of the Paraguayan Chaco region of South America to create durable improvements in the areas of access to water, food security, community development and organization. The program provides culturally‐sensitive technical assistance in family and community farming and livestock, community capacity‐building and support indigenous‐led advocacy.
Busy as a Bee with Vegetable & Honey Production
People look up to Alodia in her village. As the head of a five-member household, you’d think she’d be busy enough caring for her family, managing her beehives and marketing her honey. Yet she has also taken on leadership of the work in the community vegetable garden established by the program.
“Before [local partner] Pastoral Social Diocesana de Benjamín Aceval came, we didn’t have very many opportunities here,” she recalls. “We were limited in what food we could produce, and there were even fewer options for earning an income.”
Alodia and others in the village received training on vegetable gardening and soon joined in the effort to prepare beds for a community garden. The program provided technical assistance, tools, seeds, and barbed wire for fencing against animal damage.
Alodia grows her own food in one of the plots and works alongside her neighbors as they tend theirs. Cooking classes ensure that the local families know how to incorporate the vegetables they grow into their regular diet. “We’re especially enjoying the lettuce, parsley, and other leafy greens that we didn’t have before.”
She also received training on beekeeping and the tools she needed to maintain her bees and establish a small business selling honey.
“With the good production of honey, I’ve been able to earn an income. That money is really significant when it comes to caring for the needs of my family. The beehives we received let us harvest more honey, which we sell either to neighbors or through farmers markets in the city,” says Alodia.
She expressed sincere gratitude for these new opportunities. “Thanks to the honey money,” she says, “life has improved a great deal. And it’s a joy to be eating better using just what we’re growing ourselves in our own community.”
Paraguay Lower Chaco Program
Led by Church World Service and Local Partner Pastoral Social Diocesana de Benjamín Aceval