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04 de October de 2018Gran Chaco: Social Innovation to Overcome Poverty
1img - Gran Chaco: Social Innovation to Overcome Poverty

The Chaco Tri-national Initiative is taking sustainable development and social innovation to one of the poorest, most environmentally sensitive areas in Latin America.

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Gran Chaco represents the world’s largest continuous dry forest. It is a vast ecosystem that covers large tracts of northern Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay. Life is hard in Chaco. It is a remote region where long droughts alternate with heavy flooding. It is far from the major development poles of the three countries, and there is a substantial deficit of utilities and transport infrastructure. Economic opportunities are limited and the unsatisfied basic needs index exceeds the national average in all three countries.

Until recently, the remoteness of El Chaco had helped to protect this fragile ecosystem. In recent years, however, it has become a key area for agricultural and livestock expansion, often with unfortunate consequences regarding deforestation and threats to biodiversity.

But this situation can be seen from a more optimistic perspective today, in a large part thanks to the Gran Chaco Tri-national Initiative: Conservation and economic development, which has improved income generation, food security, access to safe drinking water and environmental sustainability of many communities in the area.

The Tri-national Chaco initiative was launched in 2013 with the support of CAF-development bank of Latin America-, the French Global Environment Facility and other partners. Led by three organizations from Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay (Pro Yungas Foundation, NATIVA and Moisés Bertoni Foundation), the initiative aims to build a development model to improve the social conditions of the populations of Chaco in an environmentally sustainable manner. After years of work, partnerships were established with local, national and international institutions of the three sectors. Altogether, a shared vision for the future of Chaco has been developed as a tri-national ecoregion to be managed transcending national borders, to ensure its prosperity and environmental sustainability.

“Through this initiative, we have shown that working hand in hand with communities, we can overcome poverty and generate better opportunities for increased quality of life in vulnerable populations. The idea now is to scale it with the help of all models that have proven successful,” said Ana Mercedes Botero, Director of Social Innovation at CAF.

In this sense, the project’s continuity has been guaranteed with the recent approval of a EUR 1.5-million loan from the European Union.

Botero explained that the support from the multilateral agency focused on financing small community projects based on high-impact models adapted to local conditions, and with the potential of being replicated throughout the Chaco territory. The results are promising and have generated an important demonstration effect. Delivery of water filters to 1,600 families, and training them in their use and maintenance, resulted in a 80% reduction in the incidence of diarrhea and other diseases in children, while the installation of 45 community orchards helped improve nutrition in several communities.

Capacity building in activities such as beekeeping, crafts and tourism, with subsequent improvements to production and marketing, resulted in revenue increases for more than 600 families. And in the field of animal husbandry, the dissemination of best practices through technical assistance and training to 400 small producers and their families demonstrated that they can raise income and reduce environmental impact at the same time.



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