Building the autonomy of Quilombola communities in Brazil

Building the autonomy of Quilombola communities in Brazil

ARQMO president explaining the Quilombola Fund mechanism to the member of the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Pará, which validates the leading role that Quilombola representatives have had in the creation and implementation of the Quilombola Fund.

The Quilombolas are slave-descent settlements in Brazil, whose ancestors were able to escape their fate working mostly in sugarcane plantations and mining. CIAT, along with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and local implementing partner the Amazon Conservation Team (ECAM), is contributing to the collective establishment of the Quilombola Fund. A fund conceived following a commitment by the mining company Mineraçӑo Rio Norte, whose activities take place in the Quilombola territory, to actively engage in compensation mechanisms for local communities. To better plan and coordinate future fund disbursements, a program called “Sustainable Territories Program” (PTS) was created. The PTS targets five development areas for improved socioeconomic and environmental management of the Quilombola territories in the Oriximiná region, in the State of Pará.

Within the framework of this inclusive private sector engagement initiative, a seminar took place in the city of Santarém, Pará, on 25 June, aimed to present the financial mechanisms to be implemented, including innovative territorial management instruments that promote the autonomy of the Quilombola communities. The seminar brought together representatives from the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Pará, Quilombola Communities Association in the Municipality of Oriximiná (ARQMO), and communities and associations of seven Quilombola territories; partners representing the Sustainable Territory Program (PTS), the private sector, USAID, and CIAT, as well as the Foundation for Forest Technology and Geoprocessing (FUNTEC) – the partner responsible for the financial management of the Quilombola Fund.

Created in 2015, with goals and results to be achieved over the next 15 years, the PTS intends to maximize the territory’s potential to create an integrated and democratic municipal management model. One in which the local territorial development is in line with collective interests, including sustainability and inclusiveness, and achieved through the strengthening of public institutions, provision of economic alternatives, and enhanced social participation, considering the preservation of traditional cultures and environmental conservation practices. With this in mind, the Quilombola Fund deploys a financial mechanism aimed at guaranteeing the autonomy of the Quilombola communities in the integrated management of their territories, preserving their culture and natural resources of their territories. To this end, the fund will address the priorities identified by the communities themselves in the Life Plans established for the Quilombola territories.

During the seminar, the Quilombola Fund was presented as a financial mechanism, and a work agenda was built jointly with the Public Prosecutor around its creation. Important aspects of the governance, financial management, and legal security of the Quilombola communities and associations in the process of implementing the fund were also discussed. Other concerns addressed included the expected autonomy levels of the Quilombola communities, transparency mechanisms in the fund implementation, implementing partners, and planning beyond the objectives of the Quilombola Fund.

Over the course of the discussions held during the Seminar, the Quilombola communities demonstrated their leading role in the fund design, thus assuring that the fund has been conceptualized and created in a participatory manner with the effective involvement of relevant stakeholders, including ARQMO and other Quilombola associations.

The Financial Mechanisms: Paths for the Construction of Quilombola Autonomy Seminar, 25 June 2019, Santarém – Pará, Brazil.

The representative from the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Pará (at the center of the circle) makes inquiries about the expected autonomy levels of the Quilombola communities.