02/10/2023, 18.41
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Power systems managed by Indigenous communities in Luzon receive award

A project by a Philippines NGO boosts the right to self-determination of Indigenous Igorot people in Luzon’s Cordillera region. Their Council of Elders makes the main decisions, while youth and women are involved in management. For this initiative, the NGO received an award from the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum, which is currently meeting in Rome. Pope Francis today met some of the delegates attending the event.

Rome (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis today met with some Indigenous leaders attending the 6th Global Meeting of the Indigenous Peoples’ Forum currently underway in Rome in connection with the Governing Council of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a UN agency.

The award for the Best performing non-IFAD project went to a Philippine NGO, Sibolng Agham at Teknolohiya[*] (SIBAT), for a project involving Indigenous communities in producing renewable energy.

In his address, the pontiff said that the “contribution of indigenous peoples is fundamental in the fight against climate change”.

In fact, “We should listen more to the indigenous peoples and learn from their way of living, to understand adequately that we cannot continue to devour natural resources avidly,” he added.

“If we truly want to take care of our common home and improve the planet on which we live, it is essential to make profound changes in our lifestyles” as well as our “models of production and consumption.”

As ambitious as they may be, such goals are achievable, as evinced by SIBAT’s project for Igorot communities in the provinces of Abra, Apayao and Kalinga, Cordillera region (Luzon Island) to create community-based renewable energy systems (CBRES) and micro-hydro power systems (MHPs).

Over three years (2020-2022), such systems were built to provide power to 14 elementary schools and village (barangay) health centres as well as other community facilities, including 11 rice mills, two corn mills and four sugarcane pressing facilities to serve 1,684 hitherto off-the-grid Indigenous households (8,420 people).

Local indigenous communities were involved in the project from the start, in a free and informed manner, from the initial design to the implementation phase. The systems are now managed by locals (women, men, youth, and people with disabilities) chosen by local communities and trained by SIBAT.

Indigenous youth and women were involved in activities related to construction and are involved in the maintenance, while seniors and people with disabilities in the Council of Elders play a key role in making major decisions and upholding local customary laws and traditions.

The project has given local communities an opportunity to protect and preserve their rivers and waterfalls, but also promote their identity and culture, asserting their right to self-determination.

The Indigenous Peoples’ Forum also recognised two, IFAD-funded development initiatives designed to boost food security in Cameroon and Bolivia.

[*] Wellspring of Science and Technology.

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