Latin America / Caribbean

Photo: Paul Jeffrey/Act Alliance


Chaco Region of Argentina, Bolivia, and Paraguay


USD $351,000

Food & Rights in the South American Chaco

The Gran Chaco is the largest dry forest in the world and has some of the highest levels of poverty and inequality in all of South America. The CWS Chaco Program accompanies the indigenous peoples of the Chaco as they reclaim their ancestral lands, supports improved food security and nutrition, empowers indigenous women, youth and organizations and utilizes a small grants fund to fight the conditions of poverty and inequality that are endemic for indigenous communities in the region.

CWS and our local partners in the Gran Chaco program provide legal support and accompaniment to communities in their land claims process, including one of the largest claims in all of South America for an area the size of Washington D.C. and involving some 15,000 people. Argentina signed a decree in June 2014, handing over legal title, ending a 20-year struggle and beginning a new phase: sustainable community development for 12 communities.

CWS focuses on sustainable development and land management for these newly re-acquired lands. This includes participatory community mapping that provides detailed information on natural resources such as water, land available for hunting and gathering, the locations of the nearest public services and identifying areas of potential conflict. We are protecting at-risk human rights defenders and community leaders working non-violently for justice and to fight inequality in the Chaco. Strengthening community-based organizations will build on this work for years to come.

Indigenous communities in the Chaco region of Bolivia and Paraguay are seeing improved food security as a direct result of this work. In partnership with Foods Resource Bank, CWS is providing technical and material resources for kitchen gardens, honey production and handicraft start-ups, empowering women and families to diversify their livelihoods and start new income streams — all while improving the nutritional intake of their children and communities.