Guatemala: Reclaiming Mayan knowledge to address climate change

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Guatemala: Reclaiming Mayan knowledge to address climate change

WACC is supporting a project in Guatemala that seeks to document and popularize ancestral Mayan ecological knowledge for climate change resilience and mitigation.

Guatemala, which has been experiencing extreme weather conditions ranging from severe droughts to devastating floods, has been ranked among countries most vulnerable to climate change and disasters. Climate change has been driving the migration of starving farmers and their families to places like the United States, where they are not exactly welcome.

Asociación de Mujeres Mayas Majawil Q’ij, Nuevo Amanecer, a local Indigenous women’s NGO which works to preserve Mayan history, identity, and culture and fight for their rights, will implement the project.

“This project seeks to contribute to the strengthening of the legitimacy and validity of ancestral Mayan knowledge as an alternative towards building more equitable societies, free of violence and that mitigates climate change,” says Asociación de Mujeres Mayas Majawil Q’ij in its project description.

The project will work with ancestral men and women leaders and young people in developing content about ancestral knowledge for community radio stations and social networks. It will provide community platforms for inter-generational exchanges that will result in the transfer of knowledge, and conduct research on how to protect and conserve ancestral seeds.

Asociación de Mujeres Mayas Majawil Q’ij notes that today’s generation of Guatemalans are losing their link to ancestral knowledge because of many factors, including longstanding discrimination, racism and social conflicts resulting from its battle with the government and multinational corporations over land and water rights.

“The research shows that the effects of climate change will affect people in different ways. Vulnerable women, particularly in rural areas, will be especially hard hit, especially as the economic base they rely on are affected,” said Lorenzo Vargas, WACC program manager for Communication for Social Change. “In this context, the work of Asociación de Mujeres Mayas Majawil Q’ij is innovative as it seeks to advance traditional ecological knowledge using a gender sensitive lens.”

About 60 people, 36 of them women, will directly benefit from the project. Indirect beneficiaries include about 300 families and people closely related to the direct beneficiaries, and a potential audience of more than two million people who listen to community radio, and/or engage in social media networks.

Above: A Mayan woman tends to her flowers and crops. Photo by Robin Canfield/Unsplash