Progressio development worker Bernardo writes:

Last week we had a meeting with an American organisation that works through young brigades, formed of volunteers who support short-term concrete actions. In our case, we are planning to build 60 ecological stoves, with a very low cost. That's a significant contribution.

On the other hand, after implementing the latest round of activities, we are once again paralysed in the process with PROMAREN (Programme for Management of Natural Resources in the Border Area - Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources).

Waiting for funds

We’re waiting for PROMAREN to disburse the funding – from our past experience we expect it's going to take a lot of time and that always means delays in the process.

There is a gap between the dynamics in the territory – what the people need and when they need it – and bureaucratic obstacles. It is very frustrating for us.

Agro-forestry can help reverse deforestation

With these funds we need to install agro-forestry plots and provide training and reforestation in Las Rosas and Los Cerezos. The reforestation activities are particularly important because of recent conflicts around forest fires and cutting of trees.

In Cruz de Cabrera, the problem is worsening in relation to the fires. 48 fires have been registered in recent months throughout the area of Restauración, with 25 fires in Cruz de Cabrera.

Logging causes conflicts in the communities

The Ministry came to support the construction of houses, but this has not solved the underlying problem.

The same Ministry controls permissions for the extraction of timber in the Cruz de Cabrera region, and is giving permission in some areas and not in others.

The extraction is to be used by the Ministry for the construction of cottages in the Sabana Clara, but the amounts extracted are too high and the Ministry is cutting trees owned by the farmers.

This is generating a conflict of land and property and undermining a lot of efforts we have been making during the last years.

Making progress on irrigation projects

On the other hand, we are tackling the water and irrigation problem in Cruz de Cabrera with the construction of five water storage systems. The GIZ promised to provide plastics to cover the storage systems, in order to avoid spoiling of the water. We are still waiting to get these.

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Photo: Farmer Federico de los Santos (known as Victor) showing a seedling in his food garden (photo © Fran Afonso/Progressio)