The following article brings some good news from La Guajira, where a participatory-research project has resulted in a thriving community garden.
Currently, they have crops of watermelon, squash, corn, beans, melon and yucca. The rainwater has also made possible the significant increase of goats and goats, and the care of the cows recently incorporated. This production directly benefits 45 families from the Taiguaicat, Pañarrer and Limunaka communities of the Manaure reservation, in which 206 people live.
"And here I am asking Juya - Father of the Rain, to visit these lands soon, because the livelihood and economy of hundreds of families throughout the La Guajira peninsula depend on the rain and much more in this confinement due to the pandemic."
By Covid 19 Hunger and thirst get worse in Wayuu territory
"With the closure of all commercial activities by governments as a preventive measure to avoid the spread of Covid-19, the Wayuu are forced to abandon their daily activities such as the street selling of food, checheres and handicrafts, the offering of means informal transportation systems, and the high migration flow that takes place at the border to commercialize anything that can be bought or sold has stopped."
Colombia: Indigenous Children at Risk of Malnutrition and Death
"'The indigenous communities of La Guajira do not have access to enough food or the water necessary to practice basic hygiene, including washing their hands, and information and access to health care is extremely deficient,' said José Miguel Vivanco , director for the Americas from Human Rights Watch. 'This situation has contributed to the fact that for years the Wayuu have suffered one of the highest levels of child malnutrition in Colombia, and it is extremely worrying in the current context of Covid-19.'"
"The coronavirus pandemic has further undermined the fragile situation of Colombian indigenous peoples. One of the most worrying cases is that of the Wayuu, who make up 20 percent of the total indigenous population of the country. As the data shows, the situation was dire before covid19 arrived."
"According to the Wayuu, although the healing properties of traditional medicines are not scientifically proven, several cases of daily life in the communities show encouraging results about their usefulness in preventing and curing the symptoms of covid 19."
A fantastic virtual museum dedicated to food and climate issues in La Guajira has been created by Dejusticia, a Colombia-based research and advocacy organization. The museum displays a series of beautiful artwork which, in their own words, "shows one of our crudest realities: the constant violation of the fundamental rights of the largest indigenous people in Colombia and Venezuela."
The following fieldnotes and photographs have been prepared by a research assistant on the Four Stories project. They outline some of the challenges faced by Wayuu communities today.
La Guajira, Colombia
Notes and Photographs from the Field, January 2020
Prepared by Natalia Giraldo Osario
Rancheria (Settlement) St. Martin du Puloy
This community is made up of approximately ten families of Wayuu Indigenous people, who go through the seasons there. Families have major problems with access to food. All the food comes from outside since the land is very dry to cultivate and they do not have irrigation systems. Economic livelihoods depend on temporary jobs and selling handwoven bags (mochillas) made by the Wayuu women.
At about 5:00 a.m. you start to smell the wood fire that announces the beginning of the day. Women gather in the kitchen to prepare food, and they collect water and care for the children. The men perform animal care and look after the land and housing arrangements.
There are many children in the community, who spend their time playing with discarded items found throughout the ranch. They also help to collect firewood and do chores. The school that was at the ranch was recently closed, meaning children must now travel to Manaure to receive their education. Children are the people most affected in the crisis situation occurring in La Guajira.
Women in the community have created mutual support networks, and help to provide each other with items including food, water and other essentials. In addition, some are specialists in traditional medicine. Women are in charge of caring for the nuclear family.
To get to the mill, the only place where there is access to water, involves a walk of about 20 minutes. Women are in charge of collecting the water. This vital element for life, both human and other-than-human, plays a very important role in the social order and cultural life of the settlement. The Wayuu territory is facing challenges of water injustice, which exacerbates their food crisis.
To the rhythm of the drum and the sound of the wind, the Wayuu people dance the Yonna. This is a very important dance for the Wayuu because it is an opportunity to perpetuate their cultural traditions.