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...
Oct 15, 2012

Aspirations of the Students at Aouda Saadia

Impressions of the school garden
Impressions of the school garden

We have dug into the past to reflect on the original aspirations of the high school girls from Aouda Saadia. When the rehabilitation project first started two years ago, the girls were tasked with putting into pictures their impressions of an ideal school. We posed them with the question "Out of all the areas in your school, which area do you enjoy being in the most?”

The thirty girls were united in their answers, drawing pictures of clean and scenic gardens, reflecting their need to have a serene spot to relax and gain the strength needed for their studies. This need was particularly obvious amongst those who were residents of the school.

Historically, Marrakech was an oasis dotted with traditional caravanserais that served as a resting place and shelter for merchants from southern Morocco travelling to the north (and vice versa). This oasis motivated a lot of people to come from afar in search of its tranquil grounds. The images of peaceful gardens drawn by the girls reveal a connection anchored in Moroccan culture that the people of Morocco still have with their natural surroundings.

The drawing exercise was initiated by Charles Hamilton, a Masters student in Landscape Architecture at the State University of New York, as part of his university research project. He surmised that rehabilitating the school garden would greatly enhance the learning experience of the girls at Aouda Saadia.

Oct 14, 2012

Jenny, a Community Researcher from Ulu Papar

Uploading GPS points
Uploading GPS points

My name is Jenny Sanem. I am an  indigenous Dusun from Buayan village.

In 2007, I started working as a community researcher. At the time, I was only 21 years old, and was working as a shop attendant in Donggongon town. Although I was born in Buayan, I did not know much about Buayan except that is one of the nine villages that, together, is known as Ulu Papar. It is located in a remote part of the island of Borneo.

As a community researcher, I started to learn about my village and gained skills I had never even heard of before. Alongside other community researchers from Ulu Papar (we are called the Community Researchers Team), I learned how to create maps by collecting GPS readings, use different research techniques to understand the relationships that exist between my community and the environment we live in, monitor how my community use and manage the resources found in the forest, and share the story of our lives through photography and community filmmaking.

There are so many things about Ulu Papar that I was not aware of until I became a community researcher. The last few years has been challenging, and at times, scary. For example, in August last year, I delivered a presentation entitled “A Biocultural Perspective for Heritage Conservation in Ulu Papar, Sabah” to an audience of around 300 during the Asian Wetlands Symposium. Earlier this year, we had dialogues with high-level government officers to deliver the results of our research. As a group, we have stood up to defend our land. It has definitely been challenging, and through it all, I have learned to appreciate all that Ulu Papar has to offer.

I hope these photos give you an idea of my journey so far as a community researcher. 

  1. Uploading GPS points: Community mapping is a participatory method whereby communities are involved in creating maps of the area we live in. Here, I am showing community researchers from Bundu Tuhan how to upload GPS points on the computer. 
  2. Developing a Community Protocol: The Ulu Papar Biocultural Community Protocol was produced after 18 months of dialogues and workshops with the Ulu Papar community. As part of the process, we took the draft protocol back to the community to explain its contents and to get feedback.
  3. Conducting household interviews: We conducted interviews in all the villages in Ulu Papar to learn about how  households interact with the plants, animals and landscapes around them. 
  4. Zoning workshop discussions: A zoning workshop was held in Buayan in August 2008 to discuss how Community Use Zones in the Crocker Range could be established. Here I am presenting the results of a group discussion held during the workshop.
  5. Community filmmaking: Participatory video is a technique where communities are taught skills in filmmaking so they can use this to share the stories of their lives and the issues they face. We shared the skills we learned with the community from Terian village, another village in Ulu Papar.
  6. Taking GPS readings: Our team spent a lot of time in the field taking GPS readings of important sites. This included  forest types, farms, resource harvesting sites, historical sites and graveyards.
  7. Creating a Participatory 3D Model: This is a group photo taken with the 3D Model of Buayan-Kionop. We worked together with other community members and partners to create this scaled model.
  8. Having dialogues with the Government: Early this year, we started having dialogues with government and non-government agencies to share our findings and promote the unique values of Ulu Papar.

* story told by Jenny in Bahasa Malaysia, the national language of Malaysia.

Developing a Community Protocol
Developing a Community Protocol
Conducting household interviews
Conducting household interviews
Zoning workshop discussions
Zoning workshop discussions
Community filmmaking
Community filmmaking
Taking GPS readings
Taking GPS readings
Creating a Participatory 3D Model
Creating a Participatory 3D Model
Having dialogues with the Government
Having dialogues with the Government

Links:

Oct 14, 2012

Discovering our History

Village elder who told the story of Buayan
Village elder who told the story of Buayan's name

Towards the end of 2005, as part of the Community Researchers Team from the Buayan-Kionop area in Ulu Papar, we were trained by the Global Diversity Foundation how to conduct research on the history of Buayan. We held interviews and documented the stories told by our village elders.

Many among the younger generation in Ulu Papar do not know much about our history. As community researchers, we felt it was our responsibility to change this situation, which is the reason behind the exercise to collect and document the history of our community - to preserve the cultural heritage that is unique to Ulu Papar. Our history is what defines our identity as the original inhabitants of Ulu Papar. 

One of our interviewees was Puan Linggui Lunduan, from Buayan village, who told us the story of how Buayan got its name. This is how the story goes....

“A long time ago, Buayan experienced a 7-year drought that dried up the river that runs through the village. However, there was one section, a deep part of the river where fish liked to gather, that escaped this predicament. Unfortunately, this was not accessible by humans or animals because it was protected by a large river turtle that blocked the way with its body. Members from our community made many attempts but no one succeeded because the river turtle never left this area. The river turtle’s name was Suyan, a name bestowed on it because of how amazed our community was with the situation. After many failed attempts, someone offered a sogit (local term for offering) in the form of an egg to the river turtle. Upon receiving this, the river turtle made some room so that water could be drawn from the river. Since then, whenever a member of the community wanted to get some water, that person would offer a sogit to the river turtle."

This is how Buayan got its name.

* the interview was conducted in the native Dusun language, and translated by community researchers to Bahasa Malaysia.

Community researchers at work
Community researchers at work
Scenic part of a river that runs through Buayan
Scenic part of a river that runs through Buayan

Links:

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