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Amazon, Brazil, Fieldwork, Indigenous peoples

Building Community Protocols with the Ashaninka from Apiwtxa

DSC06871 (2)The community protocol meeting for the Ashaninka Land Monitoring Project happened on September 5, in Apiwtxa village, with the participation of the community, of the anthropologist Carolina Comandulli representing the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) research group, and of the partner organization Comissão Pró-Índio do Acre (CPI-AC).

In the morning, the anthropologist presented to everyone what had been done since January 2015, including the free, prior, and informed consent with the community, the iterative construction of the monitoring application and the training given to the monitors in using the application and in transferring data to the computer and visualizing it. Soon after there was a group dynamic in which the community responded to two questions: “How can the project be improved?” and “What are the risks of collecting this information and how can we avoid or mitigate them?”. The monitors requested that we continue the training both in the use of the application and in the data transfer. As to the risks, some suggestions were to protect the identity of the monitors, to not confront the invaders, and to organise an educational activity for the schools in the surrounding areas to raise awareness about the prohibition of hunting, fishing and logging in indigenous lands.

DSC06893 (2)In the afternoon we discussed about the information flow (“Who can have access to the information?”, “Who is allowed to send it to other institutions?”; etc), and about the contents of the final version of the community protocol. The first part of the protocol consists of questions and answers about the functioning of the project (such as “Who collects the data?”, “Who is responsible for the equipment?”, “How to reduce the risks of the monitoring activity?”; etc). Then, there is a session on the technical and methodological support, another about the logistics support and finally one on the data sharing protocols.

During the meeting, the Ashaninka leaders also presented to the community other equipment for land monitoring they received from the partner NGO House of Indians, which consisted in a number of GPS trackers and surveillance cameras. They also talked about the strategies to
protect their territory that will happen as a part of the recently approved project with the Amazon Fund. Their idea is to integrate the use of the ExCiteS’ application, the cameras and the GPS trackers,
DSC06905
with the territorial protection activities included in the project.

To celebrate the success of the meeting, there was a big meal offered to the community and also a pyarentsi ritual, in which they gathered to drink their traditional beverage made out of fermented manioc.

The next steps for the project are to continue training the Ashaninka monitors and to plan the integration of the use of the application with the coming activities of the Amazon Fund project.

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