The indigenous peoples of the Colombian Amazon and how they face climate change

In indigenous language, Guainía is "land of many waters" by the hundreds of rivers that cross its territory. [Foto: Federico Buelvas, VOA]

In the heart of the Colombian Amazon, located in the department of Guainía bordering Brazil to the south and Venezuela to the east, the indigenous communities of Curripaco, Sikuani and Puinave are feeling how climate change is negatively impacting their lives.

A tour of the voice of america by the territories of the three ethnic groups, which occupy this natural ecosystem of about 72,000 square kilometers, allowed to verify these effects in the voice of its inhabitants.

These indigenous tribes, who spend their days in this territory made up of a long fluvial network, mountains, plains and jungles, gave examples of the changes, regardless of the time of year, ranging from increased temperatures and droughts to heavy rains in the Amazon.

“Climate change has manifested itself in different ways, the intensity of the rains and summer have varied and this has led to changes in the reproduction of fish, the ripening of fruits and the arrival of migratory birds,” he explained. to the VOA Cecilia Durán, indigenous from the Curripaca community.

According to a report from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) of the United States, the planet continues to register increasingly hot temperatures.

However, despite the rise in temperatures that has affected them over the years, the indigenous communities of Guainía, which in the Yarí language means “land of many waters”, are tirelessly seeking how to protect their area.

“We work in environmental work, advancing care in the forests, rivers and fauna,” he told the VOA Carlos González, guard of the Porvenir community.

Harnessing ancient wisdom is a key strategy in this endeavor. This was stated by Óscar Cuiches, an indigenous member of the Puinave ethnic group, who recalled that “they are instilling the knowledge of the elderly in the youngest to face climate problems” at a time when the weather conditions “have changed drastically ”.

In the indigenous language, Guainía is “land of many waters” due to the hundreds of rivers that cross its territory. [Foto: Federico Buelvas, VOA]

The impact of drought and high temperatures on the elderly

For these communities, climate change, specifically drought and high temperatures, has “significantly impacted” the elderly. Observers indicate that this is because for many years “they have lived a life cycle that is beginning to change.”

“It has changed, for the grandparents it has been more impressive because for many years they have lived a certain cycle for cultivation, fishing, hunting animals and others, they have told us that it has been a sudden change,” explained Cecilia Durán, an indigenous curripaca.

“In the elderly, the climate affects them, it has brought diseases caused by high temperatures that we were not used to,” says Óscar Cuiches, an indigenous member of the Puinave ethnic group.

These communities maintain that their job is to raise awareness of the importance of this tropical rainforest, while stressing the gravity of the changes.

“It has confused us in many places… at the time we plant… we are in May and it is warming up, it is supposed to be raining,” concluded Cuiches.

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Written by Editor TLN

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