EWEA mission in Colombia - Day 5

EWEA mission in Colombia - Day 5

20/07/2019

Fifth day, Guayabal, municipality of Uribia (La Guajira, Colombia)

Today we leave a little later... 7 in the morning. It’s the last two days in the field and each team will spend the night in one of two communities. We were to stay with the community of Guayabal in the municipality of Uribia located north of La Guajira and indigenous capital of Colombia. In my team, we are: Maira Alejandra Deluque (cook, hygiene and industrial safety expert), Iris Laudy Gómez (agricultural administration expert and currently studying social work), Humberto Rodríguez (project coordinator), Ever Tomás Suarez (community assistant with an agricultural focus), Niccolo Lombardi (Early Warning, Early Action team member from Rome), our drivers, Nelson Montiel Gómez, John Rodriguez Rojas and Andrés Murillo (photographer). Before separating between those who go to Maischipa and those who go to Guayabal, we all stopped by Uribia to refuel and pick up supplies.

We arrived a little late, it’s five in the afternoon. This was because before Guayabal, we stopped to talk to the members of a control community. You may remember that in order to evaluate the results of FAO’s activities, data is collected through interviews with a sample of FAO beneficiaries and to compare with households in the same area who have not benefited from the project (what we call a control community).

We are welcomed by adults, the majority of whom are women, and by children. All very elegant. They show us some of the bags they knitted that are even more beautiful than those we bought in Riohacha; well, it was mainly Niccolò! We started with curiosity driven questions, simultaneously translated from Wayúu into Spanish and vice versa by Iris, Maira and Tomas. One of the questions is about which of FAO’s intervention seemed the most important to them. The community agrees to say that they were all extremely important.

At the beginning when she started working on the plot, Maria Eugenia did not believe at all that it would have worked. “The preparation was very difficult, this land does not give anything because it does not have water.” She tells us that she did not understand the CDC concept all the techniques well. But she adds that when she saw the incredible results it was giving, she understood and began to hope for a better future. She tells us that the animals are much better thanks to the vaccines provided by the health brigades, as well as the feed received from FAO. Tanisia explains that before she did not know many of the vegetables that they learned to plant, such as cabbage and eggplant, and most of all without the nutritional training and the recipes they learned, she would not have known how to cook them after the harvest.

Mr Icreto begins by reminding us that here he is the decision maker representing the authority of the community. He tells us that life in the upper La Guajira is very hard, that many aid workers have come, they have promised so much, and in the end they left without doing anything. So when FAO arrived, I was very skeptical. He clarifies that if something does not go well, if for example

FAO had not complied with what was agreed, he would have lost face with the community. Luckily he ends up saying that he is satisfied with the way he worked with FAO, and what was most important to him, is everything that was done for water management, such as having fixed the well or the drip irrigation system. They have talked a lot and said so many things, it is already night and everyone has to leave to go back to their homes. And we have to organize ourselves to spend the night in the community as well. We have no idea how to place the hammock that they lent us... luckily, Iris sees us struggling and gives us a hand.

All other FAO colleagues set up their own hammock clearly without any help from Iris. Meanwhile, Maira and some members of the community are cooking so we can have dinner. In this community, there is no light, so everyone has a torch or a head torch like those used by people who work underground. The cooks too.

Read more about the next and last day of the mission.