BENEFITING: RAINFOREST FOUNDATION INC
Helping the Quechua Monitor Their Environment and Hold Oil Companies Accountable
Location: Upper Pastaza River, Peru
Partners: Quechua Federation of the Upper Pastaza (FEDIQUEP)
Why this project is important: The Rainforest Foundation US is working with the indigenous leaders of FEDIQUEP to ensure that their ancestral lands and their ecosystem are remediated from over 40 years of oil-related damage. With 70% of the Peruvian Amazon region under oil concessions, conflicts between oil companies and indigenous peoples are common.
Background: Peru’s oldest and most productive oil concession, known as Block 192, covers the Pastaza, Corrientes, and Tigre River b, which are home to several thousand Achuar and Quechua indigenous people. Oil extraction has been in active development in the Quechua territories of the Pastaza Region – represented by our partner FEDIQUEP – for the past 40 years, enjoying strong support from the Peruvian Government. The concession for Block 1AB expires in 2015, to be replaced by Block 192. In spite of the billions of dollars of oil taken from their lands, indigenous Quechua people sill lack acess to basic services and potable water, a jarring disjunction between their abject poverty and the natural weath being pumped out at a rate of 15,000 barrels per day. In order to renew the concession, the Peruvian government is carring out a prior consultation--one of the first under Peru's recent Prior Consultation Law. Skill building, rights awareness, and sharing information among indigenous leaders, communities, and federations will therefore be exceedingly important.
What we’re doing: The Rainforest Foundation US grants financial support to FEDIQUEP, providing them with the means to continue defending their rights. With the help of the Rainforest Fund and the Rainforest Foundation US, FEDIQUEP has partnered with neighboring indigenous organizations, founding the advocacy platform PUINAMUDT to:
1) improve an independent indigenous environmental monitoring program;
2) support strengthening FEDIQUEP as an organization, and provide tools and strategies for its leaders;
3) empower community leaders to play an active role in defending their lands; and
4) ensure that the collective rights of all indigenous communities affected by oil operations in Block 192 are respected.
In addition to funds, RFUS also provides technical support on international advocacy and strategizes with FEDIQUEP and other partners regarding the best avenues for action. FEDIQUEP is also partnering with Solsticio, a dedicated organization that provides legal and technical assistance to indigenous groups, and helps hold oil companies accountable.
Did you Know?
- Improving indigenous monitoring systems has proven to be one of the most effective ways of holding companies accountable for their activities on indigenous lands.
- A 2006 government study found that most indigenous people living along the Rio Corrientes had high levels of lead in their blood,and 11 out of 12 communities tested along the Pastaza River were drinking water contaminated by oil and heavy metals.
- Oil blocks 192 and 8 represent Peru's largest oil facility and generate nearly 50% of Peru's domestic oil production, yet state provision of basic services such as schools and health posts is limited or non-existent in this area.
- Due to exposure to chemicals, indigenous communities in many areas often suffer from vomiting, headaches, fainting spells, stomachaches, and skin infections.
- 59 of the 91 oil and gas concessions in Peru are in the rainforest. * The Quechua represent the largest population of any indigenous people in the Americas
- The Quechua language has been adopted by other smaller indigenous groups. As a result, while there are about 2.5 million Quechua people, there are approximately 10 million Quechua language speakers in the world.