Meet the winners of the Indigenous Peoples Awards 2023

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Meet the winners of the Indigenous Peoples Awards 2023

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The Sixth Global Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum at IFAD © IFAD/Flavio Ianniello

Indigenous Peoples play a special role in conserving ecosystems and managing resources sustainably.

The global community should look to them for guidance on how to respond to  changing climate and support Indigenous Peoples in driving their own development, and in building their culture, identity, knowledge, natural resources, intellectual property and human rights.

Through the Indigenous Peoples Awards, IFAD celebrates inspirational development projects that partnered with and made a real difference to indigenous communities in 2022.

Best performing IFAD-funded project: Protecting indigenous livelihoods in Bolivia

A member of the Ayllu Lerco community stands in front of a mobile pen. © PRO-CAMÉLIDOS

In the Bolivian Andes, Aymara Quechua indigenous communities have long depended on llamas and alpacas for meat, natural fibre and transport. But as harsh conditions become ever more common – like drought, heavy snowfall and intense frost – the animals’ health suffers. More animals miscarry, and it becomes harder for herds to grow and flourish. For many Indigenous Peoples in these communities, climate change is threatening their only means of subsistence.

To protect the animals’ wellbeing and reduce mortality, PRO-CAMÉLIDOS

provides people belonging to the Ayllu Lerco community with mobile pens, haylofts, and access to water.

“Our priority is to tackle climate change,” says Dania Yasmin Peñaloza Gomez, a member of the Ayllu Lerco community and a local City Councillor. “We’re being hit by rising temperatures, sporadic rainy seasons and a shortage of water.”

Through PRO-CAMÉLIDOS, indigenous communities decide how to conserve ecosystems, manage projects and maintain their traditional livelihoods. Last year alone, the project helped 10,563 people, encouraging women, young people and persons with disabilities to take the lead.

“I participate in the programme because it is an initiative that helps gender equality and works with women and youth,” says Dania.

Best performing IPAF-funded project: Agroforestry for children’s food security in Cameroon

Cathérine Fleur Amban Nkoro receives an award from IFAD’s Ilaria Firmian for FEDEC’s work in Cameroon
© IFAD/Flavio Ianniello

In the lush forests of southern Cameroon, the indigenous Bakola and Bagyeli communities live off what the land provides. But agroforestry is also ensuring that children living in the Ngoyang village school consume nutritious food as they learn.

This project, which is implemented by FEDEC and funded by IFAD’s Indigenous Peoples Assistance Facility, established a 10-hectare agroforestry plantation with plots for traditional foods and other crops, provided equipment and constructed a warehouse to safely store produce. In 2022, it produced over a ton of cassava, which the community ate or sold, bringing in US$ 182 to finance activities at the school.

The hostel management committee established by the project is made up of local community members, with key positions assigned to women. The committee members bring together their traditional knowledge with training on agroforestry monitoring and techniques to counter erosion and mitigate climate change.

Best performing non-IFAD-funded project: Community-led green energy in the Philippines

SIBAT is helping indigenous communities to adapt and build resilience to climate change. © SIBAT

In the Philippines’ remote Cordillera region, many homes and businesses do not have electricity. But thanks to a project implemented by non-governmental organization SIBAT,1,684 indigenous households have set up small community-managed hydroelectrical power generation systems.

Now, homes, schools and health facilities across the region have electricity for the first time. Rural businesses, like rice and maize mills, run on clean energy, helping to build livelihoods and food security, while also being sustainable.

The project is designed using the principles of free, prior and informed consent through which Indigenous Peoples participate fully and effectively in decision-making processes that affect them. It brings together communities to oversee and operate the power system and set tariffs collectively. Older community members and persons with disabilities oversee and guide the project according to customary laws.

“I saw the difficulty of not having electricity in many areas, that’s why I took the job as a technician here at SIBAT – to help provide electricity in remote communities,” says Glendo Gayed of the indigenous Banao community.

Through the project, Indigenous Peoples are adapting and building resilience to climate change, while conserving the watersheds, rivers and waterfalls of their region.

“The thing I like most about SIBAT is that we don’t only provide electricity; we help the environment,” says Glendo.