This project is based on a global vision of an integrated network that includes health, food security, adequate water management, environmental quality and basic economic development. This is done with emphasis on empowering socio-environmental groups via grassroots inclusive participation, in particular with women’s and indigenous groups, and street youth.

It is this concern with integration of different dimensions of the social reality which characterizes the project. In conjunction with OTB capacity strengthening, in terms of ecodevelopment training for leaders that goes beyond community specific initiatives, the “Ecominga” project distinguishes itself from other projects by strengthening interdisciplinary university research, intersectorial training and community service, and by adopting a bioregional approach, which has not yet been well defined, studied and tested in the field of sustainable development.

The expression “community ecodevelopment allows us to specify the type of development that we hope to support and sustain. It is about meeting the objectives of community-based social development whose economic dimension is anchored in the local reality, but also consists of a global vision, along with sound ecological management of resources and human activity where, in the spirit of solidarity, concrete projects are designed, implemented and sustained by implicated community groups. In the framework of this project, ecodevelopment initiatives will be linked to the advancement of environmental health.

The concept of environmental health refers to the close link between the health of a population and that of their surroundings (environmental quality). Emphasis will be placed on access to drinking water and foods that are healthy (not containing biocides or other contaminants) and diversified (containing iodine, iron, vitamins, proteins, etc.), via community-based projects whose revenue generating initiatives aim to encourage greater self-sufficiency. Working to improve environmental conditions also amounts to improving human health, and vice-versa. Let us take, for example, the environmental sanitation (monitoring stagnant waters) aimed at avoiding potential malaria outbreaks, or the promotion of regional biodiversity for agricultural commodity and pharmaceutical production. In particular, the theme of water and its relation to food production is given special treatment, being that it is a universal vehicle circulating through ecosystems and living beings, as well as agricultural systems and food production processes (water, being at the base of food production, is vital to food security). It interacts with ways of life, economic activity and waste treatment.

General objectives

Reinforcing the capacity of universities in the Bolivian Amazon in terms of training, research and community services in order to encourage community ecodevelopment and environmental health, with regard to water and food;

Reinforcing the capacity of the Territorial Base Organizations (OTB) in the Bolivian Amazon in terms of community-based ecodevelopment and environmental health, more specifically by supporting community-based initiatives in realtion to water and food.

Strategies

Structuring and professional developing of university-based community ecodevelopment teams geared towards environmental health (water and food);

Designing and implementing training programs for OTBs in each of the three Bolivian universities, especially for indigenous leaders, women and young street workers;

Supporting community-based project development, in tandem with leadership training, centered on issues surrounding water and food security;

Developing an Ecodevelopment and Environmental Health Pedagogical Resource Centre;

Developing research programs;

Creating an Interuniversity and Intersectoral Community Ecodevelopment and Environmental Health Network;

Carrying out of symposiums, seminars and regional, national and international conferences.