Quality of Life Plans in Peru in the COVID era
Working with local communities in conservation priority areas so that they are recognized as trusted partners in conservation is a cornerstone of the Keller Science Action Center’s efforts, and Quality of Life Plans are a critical tool. QoL Plans identify community strengths, opportunities, and challenges in a holistic way, encompassing different aspects of what it means to live well, such as culture, nature, economics, social relations, and political life, enabling communities to identify realistic priorities that are compatible with conservation. Since June of this year, Senior Community Conservation Coordinator Ana Lemos and Peruvian consultant Mitchel Castro, with partners at the Machiguenga Communal Reserve (MCR) and its administrative organization the ECA Maeni, have adapted the Museum’s QoL Plan methodology to train nine communities virtually, due to the pandemic. The teams are currently training community leaders and developing QoL Plans in one community (Tangoshiari) with two annexes (Mashia and Santa Fe) in the Urubamba watershed in Peru. The work is being done remotely through Google Meet with community representatives that serve as facilitators, data collectors, data analyzers, and translators.
The pandemic has had a profound impact on the Action Center’s partner communities, emphasizing the importance of a holistic view of conservation that centers on the community’s wellbeing. Many Indigenous people are isolating themselves and relying on the resources found in their gardens/chacras, underscoring the value of access to healthy rivers, forests, and gardens, as opposed to relying on urban stores and commercial supply chains—and also underscoring the importance of QoL Plans. Tangoshiari’s QoL Plan will be the first to be developed via a fully virtual means, and is a great example of the resilience of Amazonian communities and strategic partners like the MCR and ECA Maeni.