Development plans for indigenous peoples must take into account their goals, UN says

16 February 2005

With 300 million indigenous people pushed to the margins in many countries, the United Nations agency for agricultural development convened representatives from five countries to discuss integrating their perspectives into the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) designed to halve extreme poverty worldwide.

With 300 million indigenous people pushed to the margins in many countries, the United Nations agency for agricultural development convened representatives from five countries to discuss integrating their perspectives into the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) designed to halve extreme poverty worldwide.

The indigenous leaders at the meeting yesterday represented six organizations in Guatemala, India, Nicaragua, Kenya and the Philippines.

“We are interested in indigenous peoples not only because of the extreme poverty they face but their enormous untapped potential,” Cyril Enweze, Vice-President of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said as the agency’s Governing Council prepared to start its annual session today.

IFAD greatly appreciates the value systems of indigenous peoples and recognize their knowledge and stewardship of natural resources and biodiversity.”

For political and historical reasons, however, indigenous peoples have been moved to the least fertile land with the most fragile ecosystems, IFAD said. “In these isolated and harsh environments, many indigenous peoples find it difficult to grow enough food to eat, earn a living, access medical care, receive an education and improve their lives, while preserving their cultural identity.”

IFAD said it has channelled loans totalling $800 million towards indigenous projects in Asia and Latin America, while in Africa it has been helping nomadic herders and vulnerable ethnic groups, like the Imraguen of the Banc d’Arguin National Park in Mauritania and the Twa people, also known as Pygmies, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Rwanda.

 

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