Garifuna Disaster Response as Pro-active, Holistic Development

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Garifuna Disaster Response as Pro-active, Holistic Development

Honduras
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Garifuna Emergency Committee of Honduras responded to Hurricane Mitch?s devastation by partnering with 16 communities to acquire land for rebuilding; build & repair homes, community centers, schools & businesses; equip schools & health centers; & work for 7 years to restore livelihoods & food security. We have pioneered the recovery of agriculture & fishing?traditional life among the Garifuna -spearheading a recovery of traditional root crops, medicinal & artisanal plants as well as reforestation with wild fruits, grafted fruits, hard wood trees & coconuts. We have provided seeds, seedlings, cuttings & rizomes, & training on improving production, organic composting, pesticides & fertilizer, etc. Fostering Garifuna resilience to the constant threat of storms, flooding, drought & hurricanes?we have achieved food security & sustainable livelihoods & restored our culture.We have supported women & youth in forming collectives to increase production ? without harmful chemicals & assisted them in marketing new surplus crops, creating the 1st Garifuna farmers market: Mercado Wabagari. Weve created an agricultural tool bank & distributed mechanical yuca (manioc root) grinders to insure a stable food supply. Low- or no income women, who have been subsistence level farmers, have led these efforts. Encroachment, violence, & the assassination of our leaders led us to assist, train & empower communities to defend their rights to land & determine their futures.

About You
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Your idea
Sector of activity:

Livelihood<br/>integrated livelihood recovery and expansion

On the mosaic diagram, which of these factors is the primary focus of your work?
Factor

Existence of marginalized communities magnifies devastation

Principle

Use local knowledge and priorities

Innovation
Description of your products or services:

The Garifuna Emergency Committee of Honduras responded to Hurricane Mitch?s devastation by partnering with 16 communities to acquire land for rebuilding; build & repair homes, community centers, schools & businesses; equip schools & health centers; & work for 7 years to restore livelihoods & food security. We have pioneered the recovery of agriculture & fishing?traditional life among the Garifuna -spearheading a recovery of traditional root crops, medicinal & artisanal plants as well as reforestation with wild fruits, grafted fruits, hard wood trees & coconuts. We have provided seeds, seedlings, cuttings & rizomes, & training on improving production, organic composting, pesticides & fertilizer, etc. Fostering Garifuna resilience to the constant threat of storms, flooding, drought & hurricanes?we have achieved food security & sustainable livelihoods & restored our culture.We have supported women & youth in forming collectives to increase production ? without harmful chemicals & assisted them in marketing new surplus crops, creating the 1st Garifuna farmers market: Mercado Wabagari. Weve created an agricultural tool bank & distributed mechanical yuca (manioc root) grinders to insure a stable food supply. Low- or no income women, who have been subsistence level farmers, have led these efforts. Encroachment, violence, & the assassination of our leaders led us to assist, train & empower communities to defend their rights to land & determine their futures.

Description of innovation:

We are proud of how we have taken what is undervalued in the dominant society ? Garifuna traditions & values ? & made them the strengths of our projects. Preparing casave bread requires straining the grated root in a tube-like item, made wild vine (balaire) woven by talented Garifuna artisan workers. With the deforestation by outsiders, balaire has become scarce, endangering the elaboration of the ruguma & the production of casave. The concerted effort to preserve & plant it will protect entire eco- systems & promote bio-diversity. It generates income for planters & continues traditional artisan & culinary practices. Wild growing plam ? yagua ?a hard wood palm is now our focus. We cut it with the correct moon phase, & its wood can last for decades (ideal for our hand-built, thatched roof houses). Also scarce, we have a project to grow it with schools & farmers. We reforest with trees that are used for canoes & other ?crafts? e.g. mahogany. We also have an unusual reforestation project of wild fruits such as cocoplums, sea grapes, river apples, wild almonds, & coconut varieties. Combating erosion and protecting biodiversity led us to cultivate seeds & genetic material for crops not grown by the ethnic majority or commercial growers (malanga, white yams, red grow yams, & white & pink sweet potatoes). Our planting of fruit trees helps us mark communities? ancestral lands, provides an income & improves diets. We are teaching villages tree grafting. Our projects work we

Key operational partnership:

Our partnerships at the community, national & global level ground, contribute to & increase the impact of our work. Community-based groups such as Water Collectives & women?s clubs provide grounding for our work; we help provide a vehicle for unity & sharing among towns. We have a valuable national alliance with the official Garifuna NGO representative to the government, able to open doors that we cannot. Here, we strive to be a model of cooperation rather than falling into the morass NGO competition, knowing that in unity there is strength. Globally, our key partnerships come through our membership in the global network of GROOTS International. Through them, we have had an opportunity to share practices, strategies, successes & challenges with women who have recovered from disasters in Turkey, India, Jamaica & Sri Lanka through exchanges and at Grassroots Academies. GROOTS amplifies our voice through access to policymakers at global conferences, the UN & World Bank; we bring the grounding of grassroots realities & an eagerness to share & learn to these fora. This has given our voice greater weight & leverage here in Honduras before a usually reluctant & resistant government.

Impact
Description of the financial model:

Our primary source of funding is through fundraising through foundations and other non-profit organizations. We have received funds for specific projects through partnerships with organizations such as Groots International and the Huairou Commission. Support has also come from religious-based organizations through fundraisers for emergency, cultural work, and programs to prevent and alleviate hunger. We have also obtained funds from diverse sources such as producing videos, books and competing in UNDP?s Equator Initiative competitions. Unfortunately, our funding has been short term, although many aspects of our work are self-sustaining once off the ground. The seeds and seedlings for example, all reproduce themselves, so each farmer who receives seeds is commited to return future seeds for redistribution to other farmers. Farmers are also commercializing their work and are in the process of selling their produce in the market and are able to use the initial earnings to cover costs for later marketing. The micro-businesses, after initial assistance, training and provision of materials, are now turning a profit and will soon be self- sustaining.

Client fees represent this approximate percentage of operational budget:

0%

State of implementation:

We are at the <i>Scaling Up</i> stage. We are currently at the stage of needing to scale up our work. Over these past 7 years, we have proven successful our strategies and returns on investments and moved mountains with a small amount of resources (almost $100,000/year). We have found we are too small to be considered by some places, while our current funding support is ending. Our projects have been so well received that many towns are clamouring to be included in our work, which puts us in an ideal place to begin to increase our scope. Particularly heading east, towards the Mosquitia, villages in the more remote zone have sent requests to be considered for agricultural recovery. The situation is even more dire after this season of onslaught of storms ? Wilma, Beta, Gamma and an unnamed cold front wrecked havoc on crops, homes and infrastructure without making any of the headlines of Mitch, the tsunami or Katrina.

What institutions, communities, populations or geographic areas have benefited most from your product/service?

Individual women farmers, farmer collectives, youth groups, community-based organizations, and new micro- businesses would benefit the most. Four principal towns in that remote area towards the Mosquitia, and seven more that we currently serve, are without electricity and all 16 towns in which we work were completely cut off from the bigger cities in Honduras this year. Two of the towns where we have strong programs are the Garifuna towns worst hit by Mitch, Barra de Aguan and Santa Rosa de Aguan. The River Aguan runs between them, after traveling through a large part of the country. When there are heavy rains, this river picks up water and crashes into the coast at the Aguan villages. In this way, in Mitch it killed over 40 people, destroyed hundreds of houses, carved out a new geography and drowned crops and cattle. These 2 battered towns would also be primary beneficiaries.

What specific partnerships do you need to be successful?

In order for the strengthening and expansion of our project to be successful, we need not only greater funding partnerships, but more cooperation from the government. Elections in November 2005 have brought a change of administration, and communities continue to get stronger in their capacity to advocate for themselves, so there may be some hope in that regard. Another way in which we need to scale up the work is to tackle some of the ongoing obstacle that communities face. There are untapped resources to help farmers deal with drought, and we have learned techniques for small scale pumps, tanks, reservoirs and irrigation, but we have not had the resources to implement these. Similarly, farmers would like to expand their productivity by cultivating with a tractor ? perhaps one shared among the 16 towns ? but until this point they still plant by hand with a machete, ?chancha? or pick

Replication strategy or expectation:
What plan, if any, do you have for replicating your disaster strategy? What policy, legal or institutional constraints must be overcome for you to be successful?

We will strengthen the project in 16 towns & extend it to 4 new ones, not replicating, but sharing lessons & strategies across national borders. We face substantial constraints & challenges, including lingering flood damage & erosion from Mitch & refusal by the government to assign land on higher, safer ground or to offer other help. Comite bought land & townspeople advocated to move the town themselves, securing a donor for housing & raising money to open a new road that would allow access without crossing the dangerous river Yet only the government could put in place a Bailey Bridge, available from another part of the country, for the road to go fully through. This is where the project is stalled, with housing commitment for housing in jeopardy and people of Aguan still at risk in the low- lying area they seek to leave. This key infrastructure has yet to be restored p

Which specific areas - and why - in your field would benefit most from investment by corporations, foundations, and other investors:

The community would benefit directly from investment for relocation by allowing for bridge transport, open up road access on higher ground, & permit the entry of materials for construction of housing. Timely investment would also allow us to provide seeds to farmers whose crops were wiped out by the series of storms in fall 2005, empowering them to prevent hunger and hardship in their villages. Even small amounts of investment can provide start-up materials and training to launch micro-businesses, helping towns be more self-sufficient and resilient. Small sums can also enable communities to carry out multiple forms of reforestation, which serve purposes of disaster mitigation, promotion of biodiversity, cultural preservation, and income generation. Each of these, make communities more resilient, reduce the costs in future disasters, & help prevent rural migration to cities.

Sustainability
The organization: How does the initiative fit with your overall organization's strategic goals and priorities? How did the initiative start?

The project follows our organizational goals because they are fundamental, mandatory requirements for our work. They include: supporting sustainable development, equality & preservation of Garifuna culture; combating racism, sexism, classism, homophobia and agism, poverty, & environmental destruction; promoting cooperation, self-sufficiency, unity & solidarity; supporting land struggles and human rights; motivating democratic participation of marginalized people & promoting leadership, especially for women, the young, & low and no-income people; strengthening community organizations to confront obstacles & search for their own development path. We work by planning and executing projects in health, education, culture, artisan work, agriculture, fishing, women's issues, reconstruction from disaster, and collaboration with communities & local, national and international organ

Is there a social entrepreneur behind this idea?

As in any movement or successful project, there is not a single individual but, teams of people whose collaboration make success possible. All are motivated by a deep love & respect for ?su gente?, their people. Ana Lucy Bengochea is a Garifuna woman from Honduras, & the current coordinator of the Comite. She has long been a community organizer and advocate for her community. She?s always sought out by groups to give advice, lend a hand, speak at a rally, or provide leadership, & she does so selflessly. Suzanne Shende is a Trinidadian American woman who has lived in Honduras for the past 9 years. She brings her background as a human rights lawyer, as well as a long time activist to the entirely different work she does now with the Garifuna. While she brings certain skills, passion, and commitment to the Comite, she feels she learns just as much, from her colleagues & the companeras/os of the villages. Balbina Chimilio serves as one of the Garifuna ?elders? that giudes the Comite. She too has much experience in community activities, but her wealth of knowledge also extends to the herbs, plants, rituals, foods, artisan work, dances & culture of the Garifuna. Juan Arzu is a teacher, a gentle soul, an expert on water systems, farming and some mechanical subjects too. He is also a story teller, a teller of the Garifuna ?uruga?. He?s always served for the betterment of humankind, and brings a calming, generous spirit to the work. Martin Martinez, former coordinator of the Comite, specializing in livestock, farming, plumbing, is determined to see the Garifuna people get ahead & protect their ancestral lands. The Comite has witnessed too much injustice, in disaster and otherwise, & are determined to empower those affected to shape a better future.

Organization's legal status:

Non-Profit NGO, w/ Honduran Equivalent to 501 (c)(3) status

Number of Employees:

3 full-time, 6 part-time