Mercedes Benitez, 10, of the Sanapaná indigenous community in Laguna Pato, Gran Chaco, Paraguay, with a watering can in her local community vegetable garden.
Until recently, the Sanapaná people survived entirely as nomadic hunter, fisher gatherers. But as commercial farming has encroached dramatically on their traditional lands, they are now living in a reduced area of land, very small by Paraguayan farming standards, unable to move as they did between hunting and fishing grounds, and according to seasons for gathering in the forests. They are finding it hard adapting to the changes. While they still survive mainly by hunting and fishing, their diet, nutrition and food security has suffered. They live in very remote areas, and buying food is from travelling salesmen called 'macateros' is difficult because they are so overpriced and their incomes, from occasional labour on nearby farms, are so low.
Church World Service supports the community by teaching them to grow vegetables for themselves and providing the seeds for community vegetable gardens. Despite setbacks from floods and droughts, the projects have been taken up enthusiastically by the indigenous people.
- Sean Hawkey, all rights reserved
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- Indigenous communities, Gran Chaco