2016 – Maloca Working with Kamaiura of Brazil to Mitigate Impacts of Deforestation and Climate Change

Maloca is working with the Kamaiura to enable them to build a new village. The existing Kamaiurávillage that counts almost 300 people will split and a few families will move a new village as a measure to reduce the stress on the environment around the current Kamaiurá village, thus ensuring maintenance of livelihoods for all Kamaiurá people.

The Kamaiurá live in one village of about 300 people in Upper Xingu, in Xingu Indigenous Park (XIP), the largest indigenous park in the world. The area is of a unique beauty and richness in cultural and ecological diversity.

The Kamaiurá of the upper Xingú have been living relatively in harmony with their environment. Their main food is manioc and fish. Slash and burn cultivation is one of the subsistence strategies they have been practicing for hundreds of years to get their staple food, manioc. Fishing is also very important for them to complement their diet with protein. Today, changes in climate put a threat to their survival.

Extreme deforestation (intensive and large scale soy cultivation and cattle rearing) created drastic changes in the local climate of Xingu and these changes are already affecting all tribes inside the Park. The Kamaiura face the possibility of not being able to live off their land, as they have been doing for generations.

The raining season changed: rains come very late or do not come at all, affecting manioc crops, water levels (fish numbers decrease) and drying the forest (which create fierce wild fires). You can see these effects  in a beautiful film by Instituto Socioambiental and Instituto Catitu, Where Did the Swallows Go: https://vimeo.com/180574512

In the past couple of years rains started 2-3 months late or did not come at all. River and lake waters levels stay low affecting the availability of fish, the main food for the XIP inhabitants. Cassava crops that the Kamaiura planted died three times this year (2016) in the Kamaiurá village, leaving the Kamaiurá people on the verge of famine, with little more than water to eat for days at a time.

Because of extreme dryness of the air and vegetation, wild fires burned out of control this year, engulfing swaths of forest and savannah, killing animals, destroying their habitat for years to come and reducing even more the chance of future rains. I witnessed this devastation in August 2016 when I visited the Kamaiurá village and Xingu.

All these factors put enormous stress on the environment. In this situation, the stressed waters, forest and soil cannot sustain the Kamaiurá village anymore.

The Kamaiurá solution

The chief of the Kamaiurá, Kotok, is very concerned about the future of his people and he decided to act: he will split his  Kamaiurá village in two and open a new village where he and a few families will move. The new village will be still on  Kamaiurá  territory, where his ancestors used o live a few generations ago.

The proceeds of the fundraiser will help but tools that the Kamaiurá have asked for in order to speed up the process of building their village and ease the hard physical work they need to put. The village will have a few houses, all built according to traditional Kamaiurá architecture.

The chief of the Kamaiurá, Kotok, has been reaching out for help. Here is what he wrote in a letter to whoever is willing to help:

I, Kotok Kamaiurá, am cordially presenting my needs and I am asking you to receive my ask.
In the past few years the changes in climate have affected our livelihoods and our natural resources. These are diminishing in our region and every time it is more difficult to obtain them, including fish which is every time harder to find and fish is the base of our daily food; with fish and manioc we feed our families. The soil itself is every time more degraded also due to our repeated planting for years. On top of this, changes in climate (lack of rain) is making the soil less fertile than in the past.
Given this situation I have decided to migrate together with a few other families to a new place, on the other side of the lake. The name of the place e Yywatyp, where my ancestors lived. The plan of this migration process will start with re-opening the access path (closed due to years of us not travelling to that place anymore), hopefully in October this year. Once we have access to Yywatyp, we will start building 10 houses.
I leave it at your will to decide how you can help us and support our migration process by helping us obtain tools (gasoline to get to the new place by boat – the only way to access it now, machetes, boots, drilling machine).