Latest news about the Collective, our fieldwork, experiences and learning

Progress towards greater recognition and integration of traditional knowledge in Guyana

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The Darwin Initiative ‘Integrating Traditional Knowledge into National Policy and Practice‘ project has been working closely with Indigenous communities associated with protected areas in Guyana since its commencement in September 2017. The focus has been on the valuable role of traditional knowledge for maintaining cultural heritage, and the application of such knowledge, practices and innovations towards improving the management of the country’s natural resources. As highlighted in the country’s Green State Development Strategy: Vision 2040, “Traditional Indigenous knowledge is valid … Read More

Bridging the north south divide

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There aren’t many opportunities for young people from the North and South Rupununi to meet, share information and spend time interacting with each other. In this article, we hear from Marshalla Perry from Maruranau Village in the South Rupununi, who spent three months as an intern on the Darwin traditional knowledge project, based at the NRDDB office in the North Rupununi. It has been with great pleasure that I had the opportunity to work with the NRDDB team through the … Read More

Hearing from community researchers – testimonials from the Darwin Traditional Knowledge project

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Much of the work we do is through local community researchers. These peer researchers are recognised members of, and have kinship, ties, and alliances, with the Indigenous communities with whom research is taking place. They play a vital role in ensuring that the information collected is representative, respectful of different views and opinions, and that the research process is community owned. Here we hear from some community researchers working on the Darwin Traditional Knowledge and Conservation project about their experiences, … Read More

A journey up the Rupununi River for fieldwork in Apoteri and Rewa Villages – Part 2

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Onwards to Rewa, through the eyes of Grace Albert, Cobra Collective Consultant, Darwin Project The next day, we were on our way to Rewa Village where we would repeat a similar process of working with the local community researchers (their names are Devon and Peggy). The focus of Rewa’s community owned solution (COS) video is ‘traditional farming’. Fortunately, the journey to this community was sunny, unlike our boat ride a week before. This allowed us to really enjoy the beautiful … Read More

A journey up the Rupununi River for fieldwork in Apoteri and Rewa Villages – Part 1

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Working in Apoteri, through the eyes of Sean Mendonca, Policy & Technical Coordinator, Darwin Project It began with me jumping into a bus in Georgetown on a Monday afternoon. I arrived at my destination at about 8:30am – many hours later – the next morning in Annai Central. As I step out of the bus my excitement grows. It is a welcome break from my daily routine of sitting behind a computer screen in the office, and more importantly, I … Read More

Mental health project kicks off in Guyana

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Over one billion people globally struggle with issues related to mental health, including depression, substance abuse and self-harm. Lack of research in implementation and policy change is further impeded by stigma, capacity shortages, and fragmented service delivery. In collaboration with Guyanese communities and stakeholders, and funded by the British Academy, the Cobra Collective is participating in ARCLIGHT (‘Action Research Community Led Initiative Guyana Health Team’), an ambitious new research project which will develop, implement and evaluate a capacity building and … Read More

How Indigenous knowledge contributes to Mother Earth

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Mother Earth is a common expression for our planet in a number of countries and regions. It is intended to reflect the inter-linkages that exist among the natural world and people. These include the interactions and interdependencies between the many natural processes occurring around us every day and all other living things. The Earth’s ecosystems provide the entire planet with fresh air, clean water and a host of other services which people benefit from – sometimes even unknowingly. Sadly, due … Read More

Travelling South: my first field trip

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Betsy Alvin, an intern on the Darwin Initiative Traditional Knowledge in Conservation in Guyana project, reflects on her visit community visit. Well! This was my first experience on a field trip going anywhere to do project work. Mr Bernie couldn’t go because his mom was ill and Ms. Rebecca couldn’t go by herself so they called me and said to pack because you are heading south. Going along with us would be Mr Neville Adolph, the new project community liaison … Read More

COBRA Co-Director Jay Mistry wins £10 million Leverhulme Research Centre award

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We are thrilled to announce that our colleague Jay has been awarded a £10 million Leverhulme Trust grant to set up a new research centre on Wildfires, Environment and Society. Here is an extract of an interview Jay gave at Royal Holloway. We understand that you and your colleagues have recently won £10 million funding in the 2018 Leverhulme Research Centre awards on a project for; Wildfires, Environment and Society. Could you tell us a bit more about it? I’m … Read More

Parikwarunawa – Land of the heavy breeze!

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Continuing our trip, we moved from Maruranau to Parikwarunawa. Just after concluding the video screening, the team began packing to make an early departure the next day. Sigh! But it was not time for home and more so Christmas yet! But it was on my mind as we packed. We left on the 11th December for the next village clear back across the savanna to the south central district of the Rupununi. Close to Lethem that you could almost touch … Read More

Pantani Book – 33 Amerindian Tales from the North Rupununi, Guyana

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If you happen to visit the Rupununi region of Guyana, and take a hike with a local guide, it is likely you will hear plenty of fascinating stories and legends, as it happened to me. At the end of January 2014, I travelled to the south of Guyana with a group of researchers and had an opportunity to visit a place called ‘Skull Mountain’. During the trip, our local guide shared many tales and stories about the rivers, and valleys … Read More

Kaimen! Working with the Wapichan from the South Rupununi

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A team consisting of three – Ryan Benjamin, Rebecca Xavier and I (Grace Albert) – departed the north savannas for our journey to the south savannas on the 1st December, 2018. Driving through the North Rupununi Wetlands left the feeling of going away for a while. Bearing in mind, we were indeed going to be away for about 20 days.  The team overnighted in the township of Lethem to do our grocery shopping. The next day, after lunch, we were … Read More

Engaging Communities to ensure Free Prior Informed Consent (FPIC)

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On-going community outreach in the Rupununi Community engagement continues, as the Darwin Initiative project focused on the Traditional Knowledge and its role in Biodiversity Conservation, seeks to ensure a Free, Prior and Informed Consent process. Project team member Grace Albert shares her experience after completing Kanuku Mountains community visits. Recently, a team from the Darwin project visited the communities in Central Rupununi, Region 9, thus completing our round of visits to all communities associated with the Kanuku Mountains Protected Area. … Read More

Participatory video empowering Indigenous youth

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Celebrating the United Nations International Youth Day Read our article in the latest Darwin Initiative Newsletter which features how our on-going project activities are seeking to empower youth in Indigenous communities. The article shows how the project is engaging young people through participatory video to explore how traditional knowledge contributes to conservation and the relationship between Indigenous communities and protected areas. It highlights the benefits of participatory video in providing skills and confidence to young people to research their own … Read More

Screening community videos with policymakers

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Phase 2 – analysing films and collating information http://projectcobra.org/wp-content/uploads/Integrating-traditional-knowledge-02.mp4 Over the past year of the project, Indigenous communities in the protected areas of Guyana have begun making videos on the importance of traditional knowledge to these places. This video showcases the next phase of the project which involves analysing the videos and collating the information into short videos to be screened to policymakers in Georgetown.

Looking Ahead: engaging the policy makers

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Community engagement has been going well and the team is working toward fine-tuning the first set of Community Videos that will be screened to decision-makers. As that time approaches, the team benefited from some more training. The communities of the North Rupununi have captured their opinions through participatory video on issues related to traditional knowledge and protected areas. As the final videos are being compiled, we have begun to think about the process of engaging the policy makers. To do … Read More

Documenting community owned solutions in the North Rupununi

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In April and May, the NRDDB Darwin Team visited the North Rupununi villages associated with the Iwokrama Forest to begin documenting their community owned solutions for managing the protected area. Bernie Robertson, NRDDB Community Researcher reports on their activities. During the trip, the team provided additional training to the community researchers in using transcripts to sort their videos. They also assessed progress made in making the three videos on traditional knowledge and protected areas. Following this, they began working alongside … Read More

Photostory: Engaging Indigenous villages around the Kanuku Mountains Protected Area

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  http://projectcobra.org/wp-content/uploads/Photostory-_-Outreach-to-KMPA-associated-Villages2.pdf In the month of May, a team conducted an outreach to Villages associated with another Protected Area in Guyana. The main goal was to share information about the project regarding its scope and benefits in relation to the aim of better recognition of and practical applications of traditional knowledge to local conservation efforts. This photo-story gives you some insight into the team’s recent journey to some of the Indigenous Villages in the South Rupununi who have a vested … Read More

International Day for Biodiversity (IDB) 2018

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Celebrating 25 years of ‘Safeguarding Life on Earth’! As we celebrate the world’s diverse variety of life, IDB 2018 is an opportunity to raise awareness about the growing threats and challenges facing biodiversity. Action is needed now more than ever, and traditional knowledge can play an important role in this process. To read the article online click on the link below: https://issuu.com/gytimes/docs/guyanatime_20_may_2018 (see page 14)

The integrating of traditional knowledge into national policy project continues to touch communities

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Communities using participatory video to communicate with policy-makers Darwin Project: Integrating Traditional Knowledge into National Policy and Practice is one-year into its community work. Communities that have already been trained are making their videos. Work scheduled to engage communities associated with other Protected Areas in the coming months. Very exciting! The NRDDB team is still on the go; communicating with and visiting communities of the North Rupununi and afar, working to building capacities and enhancing the skills of the young … Read More

Masakanarî Village: The Unexpected

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Engaging with Guyana’s only ‘Community-Owned’ Conservation Area The Darwin field team recently visited the Wai Wai indigenous community of Masakanari in the Kanashen District. Full support for the TK project was evident as community members participated in training and had a chance to engage their fellow community members through interviews as they practiced what they were learning about participatory video. Author – Bernie Robertson It was decided! We were going to the end of Guyana, Konashen – Wai Wai Territory … Read More

Review of traditional knowledge within Guyanese policy

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  Review-of-TK-within-Guyanese-policy_1718 This working paper presents a policy review method that has been developed to assess the level of integration of both traditional knowledge and Indigenous peoples rights in Guyana’s policy and acts. The report provides a baseline of how well traditional knowledge and Indigenous peoples rights are integrated and will serve as a comparison for annual policy reviews over the next four years, and thus enable the Darwin project to measure if the level of traditional knowledge integration is … Read More

Community engagement in the North Rupununi, Guyana

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http://projectcobra.org/wp-content/uploads/Integrating-Traditional-Knowledge_low.mp4   This video shows the first phase of community engagement in the Darwin Initiative funded project “Integrating Traditional Knowledge into Conservation in Guyana”. Focused on the North Rupununi communities associated with the Iwokrama Forest protected area, it highlights how involving young people as researchers in their own communities can increase understanding and value for the role and importance of traditional knowledge for conservation.

Voices of the communities

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Feedback on training and working with participatory video Between November 2017 and January 2018, the NRDDB Darwin Team visited four North Rupununi communities to provide training in participatory video techniques. The communities were Apoteri, Aranaputa, Fair View and Rewa. The training introduced participants to the techniques used on capturing and editing videos. The participants then got the chance to plan, capture and edit short videos on a topic of interest. On completion of the training, two persons were chosen to … Read More

Traditional Knowledge in Guyana: Let’s talk about Wetlands!

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Celebrating World Wetlands Day 2018 As we join the world in observing World Wetlands Day, let us reflect on the important role they play in supporting and maintaining healthy ecosystems that contribute to human health and well-being. We need to also recognizing the significant linkages of these unique ecosystems to the life of Indigenous peoples and their role in helping to protecting them through traditional and cultural activities. Traditional Knowledge in Guyana: Let’s talk about Wetlands! Guyana, as ‘Land of … Read More

Traditional knowledge challenges and community owned solutions

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Exploring issues and opportunities Building capacity was not the only activity the local North Rupununi District Development Board team was engaged in during their visits to the communities of Apoteri, Rewa, Aranaputa and Fair View. The team also worked with community members to explore the challenges they believed they were facing when it came to their traditional knowledge. The villagers were asked to work on two main tasks. The first was to identify challenges to traditional knowledge related to both … Read More

Building capacity in participatory video in the North Rupununi

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First phase of community engagement on traditional knowledge and protected areas kicks off One of the main goals of the Darwin project is to build the capacity of community members in documenting community owned solutions through the participatory video technique. Over the course of the last four weeks – 19th Nov to 16th Dec – the North Rupununi District Development Board project team, supported by Claudia Nuzzo of the Cobra Collective and Deirdre Jafferally of the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples’ … Read More

Getting Creative

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Videographic training at Bina Hill, North Rupununi, Guyana Claudia Nuzzo, participatory video expert from the Cobra Collective, joined the North Rupununi District Development Board (NRDDB) Darwin Team at Bina Hill, North Rupununi to work on their video and editing techniques before they head into the communities to begin community research and build local capacity. The NRDDB Team, who previously worked on the COBRA Project, are using this opportunity to build their repertoire in how to edit more dynamic videos, as … Read More

Free, Prior and Informed Consent Process begins in the North Rupununi for COBRA 2.0

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The team from the North Rupununi District Development Board began visiting the communities of the North Rupununi District to introduce a new project that is of much interest to the communities. Dubbed COBRA 2.0, the project entitled “Integrating traditional knowledge into national policy and practice in Guyana,” began implementation on 1st July 2017. The project aims to address the goal of Aichi Biodiversity Target 18 which looks at developing a national action plan and process that would allow for the … Read More

Developing a theory of change for traditional knowledge and conservation

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First partner meeting in Georgetown, Guyana The Darwin Initiative inception meeting took place on the 6th September 2017 at the Ministry of Indigenous Peoples Affairs and gave project partners a first chance to discuss the key aspects of the project face-to-face The meeting was also attended by Minister Sydney Allicock, who had insightful comments and inputs into the project goals and impacts. He emphasised the importance of using more locally, Indigenous owned words to describe the project, particularly relevant to … Read More

Darwin Initiative project launched in Guyana

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British High Commission hosts launch of project in Georgetown At his residency in Bel Air, Georgetown, British High Commissioner Greg Quinn began the evening of presentations and video screenings, followed by project partners, and culminating with Minister of Indigenous Peoples Affairs, Sydney Allicock, emphasising the need for a national plan for traditional knowledge, a key output of the project. Read media reports of the event here: http://gina.gov.gy/integrating-traditional-knowledge-project-officially-launched/ http://demerarawaves.com/2017/09/05/guyanas-indigenous-amerindian-traditional-conservation-strategies-may-be-shared-with-guiana-shield/ http://www.inewsguyana.com/integrating-traditional-knowledge-project-officially-launched/ See article in Stabroek News:  

Protecting and promoting traditional knowledge on UN Indigenous Peoples Day

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10th Anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was adopted by the international community ten years ago. The Declaration expresses the rights, freedoms and standards for survival, dignity and the well-being of Indigenous peoples. Today marks the United Nations International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. According to the United Nations, there are an estimated 370 million Indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. … Read More

Launch of Darwin Initiative project

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Integrating Traditional Knowledge into National Policy and Practice in Guyana Working in Guyana, this project will address Aichi Biodiversity Target 18, incorporating traditional knowledge [TK] into biodiversity policy for poverty reduction, by 1) evaluating TK integration using case studies focused on protected areas management, 2) building institutional capacity in TK integration, and 3) developing a National Action Plan for TK. Download the project flyer here: Darwin Flyer

Electricity Generation as a Community Owned Solution – Webinar

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For the last 20 years, Andrea Berardi has been working with marginalised communities in strengthening their governance of local resources so as to promote ecological sustainability and social justice. Having experienced the disastrous failures of imposed top-down and centrally designed development interventions,  Andrea has engaged communities in developing and implementing grassroots interventions: ‘community owned solutions’. In this webinar, Andrea presents a generic organisational model for community owned solutions, and uses the example of electricity generation to compare and contrast the … Read More

First meeting of the Participatory and Intercultural Fire Management Network

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  Sharing experiences and developing action plans Between the 8-11 July 2015, more than 60 Indigenous, institutional and academic representatives from Venezuela, Brazil, Guyana and the UK came together at the Estación Científica Parupa, with the support of the Comunidad Indígena Kavanayén, Gran Sabana, Venezuela. This first meeting of the Participatory and Intercultural Fire Management Network aimed at exploring ‘community owned’ Indigenous fire management i.e. fire management practices that emerge out of the traditional wisdom and experiences of Indigenous communities … Read More

Kapoto at the start of the dry season

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  Kremkrem team meet to map and record traditional and prescribed fires In June 2015, partners of Project Kremkrem met in Aldeia Kapoto, a beautiful area of cerrado (savanna) that burns every year….. Following an evaluation visit by project partner Andrea Berardi in November 2014, it became clear that the Indigenous researchers working on the project required further capacity building to carry out project tasks, and that more work needed to focus in the Kapoto area of the Indigenous territory … Read More

Project Kremkrem kicks-off in Brazil

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  Partner meetings and training in Project Cobra approaches In April 2014, partners of Project Kremkrem met in Aldeia Piaraçú, Mato Gross do Sul to initiate the project….. Photo Jay Mistry – Creative Commons “Considero a presente iniciativa um marco sem precedentes no Xingu. A ação antrópica e o desmatamento gerados pelo agronegócio têm potencializado, dia após dia, a sensação de insegurança entre os metyktire. O projeto é oportuno e chega em boa hora, oferecendo metodologia adequada com tecnologia de … Read More