Global Diversity Foundation

GDF has a dual mission. Through our regional programmes, we support indigenous peoples' and local communities' efforts to protect their biocultural diversity, and peacefully achieve just and autonomous decision-making regarding their territories, resources and futures. In collaboration with diverse institutions, we provide support for communities to elaborate their own research, development and advocacy programmes. Areas of specific focus depend on community interests, although they tend to be community access to lands and resources, community-led conservation, advocacy and campaigning for social and environmental justice, the continuity of ethnobiological and biocultural knowledge, and he...
Feb 11, 2014

The Way Forward: Community in Action

Buayan girls; faces of the future
Buayan girls; faces of the future

As construction of the first stage of the Biocultural Heritage Centre in Buayan village comes to an end, we would like to send a special thank you to those who supported this project.

This Centre is not just a building. Original plans laid out a few years ago defined the Centre as ‘a communally owned and managed resource centre’; it was ambitious, yes, but the progress since then has shown us it is something that can be achieved. Enthusiastic youth from Buayan are now taking steps to reenergise a legally registered community entity that will provide formal grounds for the community to take matters into their own hands. For example, a legal entity enables the community to effectively engage with individuals and organisations who believe in and will support the upholding of their traditional values.

A collaboration already exists between the Buayan community with Gakushuin University in Japan under the Dissolva Borneo Project. With their third annual visit being planned for the later part of this year, a team of community collaborators sanctioned by Tungkusan (the name of the community body in Buayan) could play a much greater role in all aspects of the visit. This includes designing community outreach programmes for the Japanese students to take part in; engaging with service professionals such as Arkitrek, which currently leads all aspects of design and build of the Centre, to create an extension to the current project; and collaborating with educational institutions such as Universiti Malaysia Sabah, which played a key role in promoting Ulu Papar to the Japanese university. Beyond that, as an officially recognised entity, the community can also seek further support by developing and managing fundraising campaigns for the long-term continuity of community-driven initiatives to improve their livelihoods while protecting their precious heritage.

Progress is well underway, with ongoing encouragement, both locally and from abroad, and with on-site developments, both tangible (the construction of the Centre) and intangible (community capacity building in conducting workshops; read this blog post by one of the participants on the first workshop, a second workshop is being planned for 22nd February).

Today (Wednesday, 12th February) is GlobalGiving’s first Bonus Day this year. If you’d like to consider making another donation to boost community action in Buayan, please do take advantage of the 30% in matching funds offered by GlobalGiving. Matching is available from 9 am EST (http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?iso=20140212T09&p1=263 or until funds run out or 11:59 pm EST (http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/fixedtime.html?iso=20140212T2355&p1=263).

Dec 18, 2013

Greenery everywhere: A Lalla Aouda Saadia Update

Duranta erecta shrubs lined up along the paths
Duranta erecta shrubs lined up along the paths

It is truly a pleasure to report the completion of the third and final phase of the rehabilitation of the Lalla Aouda Saadia High School garden. Four gardeners worked in October and November on the garden, further enhancing the school’s central courtyard as a welcome green space for the high school girls.

The new metal benches were first covered with an antirust coat, followed by a soothing green paint that blends nicely with the garden environment. Duranta erecta shrubs were planted all around the edge of the garden and over time they will be pruned into a natural hedge. The plot earlier set out and reserved for a small aromatic plant garden is now filled with basil, geranium, iris, lavender, lemon verbena, marjoram, sage, santolina, thyme and wormwood. Various ornamental plants, including atriplex, bougainvillea, hibiscus, oleander, plumbago, roses, and pennisetum and stipa grasses are featured throughout the garden. The greenery is now well established, and will be maintained by an irrigation system that effectively reaches each and every plant.  We have left open spaces for small gardening projects, such as a demonstration plot of local fruits and vegetables, that can be carried out by the school’s environmental club and other groups.

GDF will continue to support the upkeep of the school garden over the coming months, giving administrative staff, teachers and students at Lalla Aouda Saadia time to establish an ongoing program to protect and expand this small but important green patch in Marrakech. We are positive that they will strive to upkeep the garden. As Charlotte Burrows, a GlobalGiving representative who visited the project and interviewed some of the girls wrote in a recent blog post, "The girls I spoke with were incredibly grateful they now have such a haven in which to read and relax, and the teachers I spoke with were thrilled that the girls no longer wander outside the school gates meeting boys…" In many ways, the garden now resembles the impressions that some of the students created at the very beginning of the project three years ago.

Now that our efforts at Lalla Aouda Saadia High School are winding down, we would like to give a sneak preview of our other Regreening the Medina projects. In this and future reports, we will provide glimpses of our efforts to develop other school gardens in the Marrakech medina and nearby rural areas. Let’s start with the Dar Taliba girl's boarding house in Ourika, in the foothills of the High Atlas mountains. As part of our Educate 1300 Girls by Restoring Marrakech Gardens project, we are supporting the development of gardens and an herbarium of useful plants collected by the girls from Amazigh villages who board here, serving as a platform to educate the students on traditional ethnobotanical knowledge and practice. Stay tuned!

The students busily planting the Duranta erecta.
The students busily planting the Duranta erecta.
In the ground and watered: a hedge in the making.
In the ground and watered: a hedge in the making.
A hired gardener weeds the garden
A hired gardener weeds the garden
Drawing of a
Drawing of a 'perfect school garden'
The Dar Taliba herbarium
The Dar Taliba herbarium

Links:

Dec 16, 2013

A Base for Outreach for the Ulu Papar People

The design of the Centre
The design of the Centre

Over the past few months, emotions have been running high among the Ulu Papar community as news of plans to build the Kaiduan Dam once again reared its ugly head. For those new to the scene, the proposed project, as outlined in earlier terms, severely threatens several of the Ulu Papar villages by essentially putting them under water. Should the plans proceed, the community would be forced to move. In 2009, the people of Ulu Papar united in a fierce fight to voice their opposition to the project, stating that no amount of compensation would make up for the loss of their homes and ancestral lands should their villages end up submerged.

Their fighting spirit clearly has not faded. The community, once again, is proving that they are up for the challenge to protect their homeland. Through the Task Force Against Kaiduan Dam, their protests are widely witnessed, both through physical presence (community members blocking access to their villages after hearing of plans by project consultants to survey the area) and online (actively creating awareness through the Save Ulu Papar Facebook page).

It is with this at the top of our mind that we hope the Bio-cultural Heritage Centre in Buayan, a communally owned and managed resource centre, will serve its original plans, as a:

  1. Focal point for community-driven activities to plan and manage access and use of resources needed for daily subsistence, such as medicinal plants, food plants, hunted animals, freshwater resources, construction and craft materials;
  2. Training base for community environmental education and outreach activities to all Ulu Papar villages to enhance community capacity to protect the ecological integrity of the Ulu Papar water catchment area;
  3. Place to foster transparent and accountable community-driven operations to build community capacity in resource use planning and management that enables the sourcing of future funding opportunities; and
  4. Headquarters to strengthen local community capacity to meaningfully and effectively engage in decision-making, management and policy on land use planning in the Ulu Papar area, including areas designated as community use, buffer and transitional zones to the Crocker Range Park and the Crocker Range Biosphere Reserve.

What does this mean, exactly?

Putting it simply, this means the Ulu Papar community can use the Centre to promote the biocultural significance of Ulu Papar. Research results obtained through collaborative initiatives between the community and both government and non-government agencies clearly define the inextricable links the Ulu Papar community have with their environment. Links that define their culture and traditions; links that should never be broken.

Progress, to date.

The construction of the community centre has progressed well over the past month, heightened by the arrival of a group of energetic young Malaysian volunteers earlier this month (read Tom’s latest blog on Buayan Work Week). Work on site continues.

As part of the outreach microprojects developed earlier, community researchers are currently converting historical stories told by Ulu Papar’s elders into exhibition materials that will feature prominently at the Centre.

Descriptions of Photos

The design of the Centre: Exhibition, performance and meeting spaces are available to carry out outreach programmes. 

The 3D model of Ulu Papar: Created through community participatory research techniques, the 3D model of Ulu Papar shows the location of sacred and other important sites in Ulu Papar. 

The Gayatas Stone in Kalangaan Village is derived from a legendary female warrior during long ago wars. The stone is protected by the Ulu Papar people due to its cultural and historical significance.


The 3D model of Ulu Papar
The 3D model of Ulu Papar
The Gayatas Stone in Kalangaan Village
The Gayatas Stone in Kalangaan Village

Links:

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