Fundacion Amigos del Choco - AMICHOCO

Amigos del Choco Foundation is an environmental NGO that fosters the sustainable use of natural resources and the improvement of life quality of the people of the Colombian Choco bioregion. We do this through the implementation of productive projects, communication and environmental education and capacity building initiatives; linking local communities with the national and international community.
Jun 2, 2011

Motivation and baseline activities

Baseline activities with children from Turbo
Baseline activities with children from Turbo

This month in our Children´s Land Project we began working with the kids from the Normal Public School in Turbo on the definition and design of their Children´s Land plot. Several motivational workshops were developed with the participation of children, their parents and teachers; the objective behind these workshops are to identify what motivates children to join the project and what they understand when they hear the word environment.

Over 80 boys and girls from the Normal Public School participated, along with 15 parents and 6 teachers.

We also developed the "gincana" or scavenger hunt to raise important information for the project´s baseline. In groups of 10 the boys and girls participated in a competition where their knowledge and understanding of their environment was tested; the groups that reached the end of the race first won. Through the scavenger hunt we can determine how well the boys and girls know their immediate environment and what needs to be emphasized and addressed in the project.

Questions like: "What plant is this?" and directions like "You will find the next clue of the race in the place were the tadpoles live" were used during this activity.

The motivational workshops and the scavenger hunt were open to anyone from the community who wanted to participate and a special invitation was made to the children and their parents through a local radio station.

We also worked closely with the school's teachers on the project's action plan and were the Children's Land was going to be constructed. There were several options on the school grounds and 2 plots of land were pre-selected; the boys and girls will make the final decision.

Finally, AMICHOCÓ began working with the school´s teachers on integrating the Children´s Land Plan to other environmental initiatives already on their way in the institution. In the next months we will work closely with the recycling campaigns, the Water Protector´s Club, and with a greenhouse initiative that runs on school grounds.

Baseline activities with children from Turbo
Baseline activities with children from Turbo
Recycling campaign
Recycling campaign
Girls presenting their Children´s Land vission
Girls presenting their Children´s Land vission
FUNDAUNIBAN staff  on local radio
FUNDAUNIBAN staff on local radio
Acelga plantation: school´s environmental program
Acelga plantation: school´s environmental program
May 5, 2011

Project Presentation to Communities and Diagnosis

Family parcel before intervention
Family parcel before intervention

During the last months the Analog Forestry Project was socialized with 20 families from the municipalities of Puerto Conto, Napipí, San Martín, Bellavista and Vigía del Fuerte. The producer families were presented with the analog forestry methodology, the production chain on forest products and the field team. The short, medium and long term challenges and goals were also socialized and discussed as well as the benefits and obligations each family will have because of the initiative.

A diagnosis was made of each of the family units parcels and their surroundings. Their location was georefrenced and the conditions of the land and vegetation were assessed and recorded. Additionally, the different activities developed by the families in the parcels were identified and recorded (fishing, hunting, animal grazing, etc.) and a list of appropriate species for each parcel was determined.

It was observed that most of the parcels are in conditions to start working on the analog forestry methodology. Most of the parcels are located in high ground and a few were identified to be in lower ground near the river basin which poses challenges for the growth and maintenance of the analog parcels. Species that are resilient to floods and adapt to climate change will be bred here to assure the success of the project.

Family parcel suceptible to floods
Family parcel suceptible to floods
May 5, 2011

Coordination meeting with field and school staff

Environmental activities in local public school
Environmental activities in local public school

AMICHOCÓ´s team visited the municipality of Turbo and met with the field team of FUNDAUNIBAN and the Normal Public School which is the project´s local beneficiary organization. In this meeting the project´s timelines, activities and budget was presented and discussed with the 2 institutions. Additionally, the monthly action plan was created and agreed upon; this plan includes the official start of the project with the children, the definition (with the children) of where the Children´s Land will be developed and meetings with local institutions that have the potential of becoming allies of the initiative.

The Normal Public School was visited and its environmental program and projects were presented to AMCIHOCÓ. One of the main challenges of the project will be to integrate the Children´s Land initiative into the schools environmental curriculum; the professors in charge of this area within the school were very pleased with the prospect and very enthusiastic about getting the project going.

It´s important to point out that Colombia and the Urabá region have been suffering from the worst rainy season in decades and most private, public and social organizations are currently trying to tackle the natural emergency in which the entire country is immersed. Turbo was greatly affected by the rainy season and over the last months most of its main roads have been closed; this has affected the project´s timeline, but we have made adjustments to the overall timeframe in order to make up for lost time and meet all of the projects goals.

Students of the Normal Public School
Students of the Normal Public School
Normal Public School staff
Normal Public School staff
Plantlife breeding in local public school
Plantlife breeding in local public school