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Participatory Appraisals

comunidades art 001With a goal of inter-culturalism, in July 2008 we concluded the first phase of the development of participatory community appraisals in Choréachi, Coloradas de la Virgen, and San Carlos Ejido (Pueblo Wasachike). The appraisals include socio-economic, political, cultural, and environmental facets. We used research methodologies that yielded both qualitative and quantitative data.

The proposal for the development of the appraisals is based mainly on research and reflection carried out jointly with the indigenous communities. We start from the premise that those who are directly involved should be the ones who analyze the community's felt issues of greatest importance, present alternative solutions, and achieve the commitments necessary to effect the desired changes.

We used the version of the Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) methodology adapted for working in rural Mexico. The Alianza Sierra Madre then further adapted this methodology to the unique cultural characteristics of the Ódami and Rarámuri peoples of the Sierra Tarahumara.

The process of developing the appraisals consisted of two phases of research: fieldwork conducted jointly with indigenous researchers and library research. We analyzed issues related to productive activities, the family, and gender; migration; territory; use and management of natural and cultural resources; seasonal movements; territorial organization; and internal and external power relationships.

In 2009, we are continuing this process, returning the results of the appraisals to the communities so that they can validate them, evaluate their results, prioritize their needs, and organize themselves to undertake actions they consider to be pertinent.

We feel that this form of work will permit us to accompany and facilitate processes of empowerment of community actors. We are returning the appraisals to the Choréachi and Coloradas de la Virgen communities in participatory workshops, where we work with men, women, young people, girls, and boys.

This project will permit us to place and accompany the development of community projects dealing with health, education, housing improvement, soil recuperation, and the use of traditional agricultural techniques, among others. We expect there will also be projects on strengthening traditional government systems and indigenous medicine.

The appraisals will be the basis of productive, environmental, and cultural projects, and funding for them will be sought from the Mexican government, as well as other sources. The authorities of the Rarámuri and Ódami peoples, as well as the individuals in charge of each project, will have the necessary understanding to undertake the fund-raising process and meet with the appropriate institutions. In this way, they will be able to seek their own funding autonomously, without constantly depending on external assistance. The financial support of the government can be complemented by resources obtained by the Alianza for its work with these communities. Certain projects will not need financial resources in order to be implemented, as they only require local inputs.

Alianza Sierra Madre, A.C.

 

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