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The City Council of Alcobendas and Abenin join as allies in La Guajira.

Photo no. 1. Wayuu children from the Câlata community expressing themselves in Workshop No. 1 on prevention and containment of the spread of COVID-19.

Source: PALACIOS, L. Câlata Community, La Guajira, Colombia.

Humanitarian actions for the survival of Wayuu children and youth in Colombian La Guajira amid the COVID-19 pandemic


Maria Paula Herrera Salazar
FUCAI field professional

The Wayuu people are one of the 115 ethnic groups that self-recognise themselves as indigenous in Colombia and represent 20% of all indigenous people in the country. 90% of this indigenous people is located in the Colombian-Venezuelan La Guajira, a territory with multiple natural resources (extraordinary landscapes, flora and fauna sanctuaries, salt, coal, and natural gas exploitations, among others); but also with great challenges at a social and environmental level.

For several decades the Wayuu people have been going through a serious humanitarian crisis, the main victims of which have been their children: it is estimated that between 2008 and 2013 more than 4,000 Wayuu children died from preventable causes, related to malnutrition or lack of of drinking water and this figure increases over the years. After a rigorous evaluation, the Constitutional Court of Colombia issued judgment T-302 of 2017, in which it declared the State of Things Unconstitutional by recognizing the massive, generalized, structural and systematic violation of the rights of Wayuu boys and girls against their right of access to: water, food, health and participation.

Today, four years later, the Court tries to take more efficient measures to comply with the sentence after verifying that: the socio-environmental conflicts, the lack of coordination between the state entities responsible for ensuring the well-being of the Wayuu people and, in particular, the their boys and girls; The lack of knowledge of the traditions and ways of life of this people, corruption, poverty and structural inequality, continue to put the lives of indigenous children at risk.

The health and social emergency caused by COVID-19 has worsened the situation, since the main sources of income for Wayuu families are: the sale of their fabrics and handicrafts on the beaches or populated centers of the region, herding, and marketing. of their sheep, goats or fish in the local markets. The prolonged confinement, without the guarantee of enjoying basic fundamental rights and the measures associated with mitigating the spread of COVID-19 have reduced the possibility of obtaining the income that they previously earned and thus obtaining a minimum amount to buy food. In addition, the temporary closure of educational institutions and community care units for the early childhood population (UCA) has left hundreds of children and young people out of coverage of the system that provided them with some health, nutrition and educational care. directly.

The situation of the communities is serious: many of them do not have a drinking water supply and malnutrition rates are eight times above the national average; the indicators of mortality due to preventable causes are high, placing the department in first place in deaths of children due to malnutrition with a contribution of 23% of the total number of children killed in the country; Furthermore, the levels of poverty and inequality continue to rise dramatically.

Faced with the contagion of COVID-19, the Wayuu population has not had an articulated and universal plan for information and mitigation of the pandemic, which explains the scope of this disease and provides biosecurity elements or advice against contagion, with a differential ethnic, contextualized and pertinent approach. It did not have it at the beginning of the pandemic, nor does it have it today, when Colombia is experiencing one of the most widespread peaks in Latin America.

In this context, the Asociación Ben por la Infancia – abenin and its local partner, Fundación Caminos de Identidad – Fucai, are happy to announce that they have started the project Prevention and containment of the spread of COVID-19 for the survival of children and Wayúu indigenous youth and their communities in Colombian La Guajira , subsidized by the Alcobendas City Council. It is estimated that this project will directly benefit at least 500 people from approximately 100 families from five communities: Mechuamana, Câlata, Jasainap' Teshimana, Jotomana and Alapalein; in addition to nearly 1,000 indirect beneficiaries from the surrounding communities. We thank the City Council and the citizens of Alcobendas for their solidarity with the Wayuu people and we urge them to follow the development of the activities through our social networks.

The ONGD abenin was born in 2003 to work in favor of children's rights. He dedicates his effort to working on awareness, cultural and international cooperation. Registered with the International Cooperation Agency, AECID. In the Community of Madrid and in the Alcobendas City Council. Make collaboration agreements with other organizations that work in the world. WEB: ig: @ong_abenin

The Caminos de Identidad Foundation - Fucai has been working for more than 30 years for the recognition, inclusion, respect and development of indigenous communities in the Colombian and Latin American territory, with highly satisfied results on the part of the beneficiary communities, local authorities and the entities financing the projects. It has carried out processes focused on improving the quality of life of communities in four fundamental axes: family, childhood and youth; education, food sovereignty and self-government. Guaranteeing access to the rights of indigenous children and adolescents from highly vulnerable communities has been a constant goal of Fucai. WEB: IG: @fucaicolombia_org

Learn more about Abenin.