Community Garden Providing Food to Widows & Vulnerable Children

In Darlu, Sierra Leone a Village Care Initiatives (VCI) group was formed in 2011 on the basis of an existing social club. Members realized some successes in terms of raising food to carry them through the annual “hungry season” and in raising their standard of living and incomes.  The initial success of the group helped to attract new members, who then raised enough money to initiate a community garden that they shared with the group members as well as with widows that did not have enough food to feed their children. They also started a savings scheme to offer help to other families caring for vulnerable children. Gradually, the entire population of women in Darlu became interested in joining the VCI group. Since the group has grown, it has now divided into two groups for ease of management. The groups plan to start a school feeding program next year.

Health Care


 This web-version of the Appropriate Technology Sourcebook provides concise summaries of over 1,150 of the best do-it-yourself books. Use the Search or Table of Contents in the right-hand column to browse subjects and locate books. The complete text and graphics of these books can be obtained on DVD or CD-ROM in Village Earth’s AT Library. Click here for more information and to order.

“Each month a civil servant dies in the capital because there is no penicillin. Each day a child in the country recovers from a fatal disease because of a plant growing in the forest.”    —Benjamin Owuor, quoted by Aggrey Nyong’o

“We are dedicated to completely eradicating all anti-scientific attitudes and ideas.”    —Cuban doctor

These contrasting views are common among people who are dedicated to improving the level of health among the world’s poor. There is the romantic who unquestioningly believes in the general effectiveness of traditional remedies, and there is the crusading doctor who sees only superstition in native cures. Both perspectives are partly valid; traditional remedies range from the dramatically effective to the dangerous. The main weakness of traditional medicines has been the failure of its practitioners to question the validity of cures; due to coincidence and the power of suggestion, good and bad remedies are added uncritically to the medical kit of the indigenous healer. Nor has there been sufficient dispassionate review of what is effective, harmless, and dangerous within the drug arsenal of modern medicine. A major challenge in developing appropriate health practices and remedies is to draw together the effective, cheap, and safe treatments in both traditional and modern healing systems.

Equally important is the question of the kind of people and roles that are to be supported in a strategy for the development of a health care system or systems. Much has been written about why modern facilities cannot be extended to reach the entire population of most of the South. Among the many reasons for this, the great expense of elaborate facilities, the chronic shortage of professionals to work in rural areas, and the high cost of physician training programs are the most frequently cited. Because of these problems, health programs are increasingly involving lesser trained health workers from the communities in which they work. These people have in many ways a more demanding role than the doctor, requiring a broader range of skills and knowledge to successfully offer basic curative care, lead preventive and health education programs, and take part in community organizing. A unique and significant advantage Is that as members of their community they know it intimately. Schemes involving community level health workers are now operating all over the world.

The need for more “medical auxiliaries” is also acutely felt in the United States, a country which “imports” many thousands of graduates from the poor countries that can least afford it. This is no less than a national disgrace. We too need larger numbers of lesser trained health workers to become self-sufficient in health care. Such people are quite capable of treating most common health problems. Doctors are probably universally over-worked, whether in the halls of  “Mass General ” or in the rural areas of Central America. Even selfless service in a needy area, however, does not begin to meet the longer-term health care needs of the people unless it involves training members of the community so that they can begin to tackle their own health care problems. In developing countries the vast majority of problems are relatively simple ones, often avoidable through the application of basic principles of preventative medicine, and usually compounded by a poor level of nutrition and a lack of access to prompt treatment.

A villager whose main qualifications are the ability to read and write (3 to 6 years of primary education) and a sense of responsibility and compassion for his or her fellow human beings can be trained in two months to diagnose, treat, and prevent 95% of the health problems commonly found in developing countries. Often these local health workers have proven themselves to be more effective in diagnosing and treating common local problems than a small overburdened professional staff. They live among the people they treat and charge what people can afford. Because they have grown up in the community, they know the socioeconomic and family history of their patients, and they are sensitive to local concepts of health, disease, and treatment. For these reasons they frequently have insights into the causes of local health problems and their advice is more likely to be understood and followed.

Unfortunately, those who endorse the use of village health workers frequently pay only lip service to the depth and breadth of indigenous knowledge and skills. In health care, as in other related aspects of community development, outside agencies have often been quick to assert the absolute superiority of their (usually Western-based) methods. And people who have been long oppressed and belittled are sometimes also quick to accept what outside agencies offer, abandoning their own traditions. Making matters worse, the chief medical personnel in programs working with village health workers often have little faith in these people and allow them few responsibilities; too often the result has been the creation of little more than referral systems that continue to swamp understaffed clinics in towns and cities.

It appears that this situation is changing for the better. In the last ten years, a number of manuals for training village health workers (VHWs) have appeared which provide practical medical information while recognizing the validity of traditional health care roles and experiences. The success of Where There Is No Doctor, with over a million copies in print and translations in more than 50 languages is an indicator of the usefulness of and demand for this kind of reference material. Helping Health Workers Learn, by the same people is a wonderful collection of ideas and insights; many of them could be modified for use in non-health programs as well. In addition to other manuals reviewed here, three bibliographies concentrate on materials written for trainers and program leaders.

The classics, Medical Care in Developing Countries and Pediatric Priorities in the Developing World, should be required reading for all expatriate medical personnel, and there is much in them to be recommended to nationals in developing countries. Half a dozen books are to be found on the Chinese experience with health care, of considerable relevance to other developing countries attempting to meet the health care needs of large dispersed populations under conditions of limited resources. It seems paradoxical but true that increased self-reliance in health care depends greatly on supportive initiatives taken by the policy making centers in government. A notable new strategy for health education and community participation in preventative and basic curative health care is described in Child-to-Child. Recognizing that small children are often cared for and taught by their older brothers and sisters, the child-to-child strategy is to develop activities in which older children teach younger children simple practices (like the use of homemade toothbrushes) and identify children with hearing, eyesight, and malnutrition problems. These activities make learning an exciting adventure in which children discover for themselves how and why a problem exists, then together take an action to do something about it. Where health workers and school teachers have conducted child-to-child activities, impressive gains have been made.

In Child-to-Child and other manuals reviewed here, the words “child” and “children” appear again and again as the focus of rural health care programs. Especially vulnerable to disease below the age of five years and often malnourished, children constitute the majority of the Third World’s sick and dying people. Untreated infant diarrhea leading to severe dehydration in malnourished children is the leading cause of death in communities in developing countries. A simple rehydration solution that can be made in any village kitchen can save these lives. Through formal and informal education, including visits by village health workers, children and adults can be taught how to make this solution for early treatment at home before dehydration becomes serious. The World Health Organization is promoting the dissemination of prepackaged powdered mixes that accomplish the same thing.

In the long run, hygienic and public health measures, particularly the provision of a safe supply of water for washing and drinking, are critical steps in improving basic community health and reducing infant diarrhea and infant mortality. The control of communicable diseases (books on this subject are reviewed in this section) also depend heavily on a safe water supply and adequate waste disposal systems. Many of the references in the WATER SUPPLY AND SANITATION chapter are relevant here.

In addition to these factors, which visibly influence the health of the community, land reform and agricultural development have major roles to play in improving the basic health of rural people. Some health care programs are now including agricultural development projects and pressure for land reforms as part of a total effort to improve community health. Health care equipment that can be locally produced is described in Where There Is No Doctor, How to Make Basic Hospital Equipment, and Where There Is No Dentist. For equipment to help with physical therapy and disabilities, see Low Cost Physiotherapy Aids, Disabled Village Children, Independence Through Mobility, and Rattan and Bamboo. The equipment needs and proper operation of basic medical laboratories are the subject of A Medical Laboratory for Developing Countries and several other books.

 All of the following books are reviewed below and available for sale as a part of the Appropriate Technology Library (on CD 27* or DVD 2):

*Minimum order of 4 CDs.

Alternative Limbmaking

Anaesthesia at the District Hospital

Animals Parasitic in Man

A Barefoot Doctor’s Manual

Better Care in Leprosy

Better Child Care

Communicable Diseases

Dermatological Preparations for the Tropics

Disabled Village Children

Establishing a Refugee Camp Laboratory

General Surgery at the District Hospital

Handbook on the Prevention and Treatment of Schistosomiasis

Health by the People

Health Care and Human Dignity

Health Care in China

Health Records Systems

Health: The Human Factor

Helping Health Workers Learn

How to Look After a Refrigerator

How to Make Basic Hospital Equipment

Independence Through Mobility

Low Cost Physiotherapy Aids

Manual of Basic Techniques for a Health Laboratory

Medical Care in Developing Countries

A Medical Laboratory for Developing Countries

Medicine and Public Health in the People’s Republic of China

A Model Health Centre

More With Less

Mosquito Control

Nutrition for Developing Countries

Nutrition Rehabilitation

Pediatric Priorities in the Developing World

Personal Transport for Disabled People

Philippine Medicinal Plants in Common Use

The Principles and Practices of Primary Health Care

The Provision of Spectacles at Low Cost

Rattan and Bamboo

Reference Material for Health Auxiliaries and Their Teachers

Simple Dental Care for Rural Hospitals

The Tooth Trip

The Village Health Worker

What is AIDS?

Where There Is No Dentist

Where There Is No Doctor


Where There Is No Doctor; New Revised Edition, MF 27-716, book, 512 pages, by David Werner, 1992, $13.00 ($6.00 to local groups in developing countries) plus $1.00 overseas shipping, from the Hesperian Foundation
1919 Addison St – Suite 304 – Berkeley – CA 94704 – USA 1-888-729-1796 510-845-1447 510-845-9141(fax)

This famous medical handbook was written for literate villagers and community health workers. It is the product of more than 25 years’ work in a villager-run health care network in the mountains of Mexico. The original English and Spanish editions (Donde No Hay Doctor, MF 27-681,430 pages, 1980 [currently being revised] same price and source) have been translated into more than 50 languages around the world, including French, Portuguese, Swahili and Arabic.

The foundation will provide addresses for local editions.

The text “takes into consideration local beliefs and customs, gives guidelines for determining the usefulness vs. hazard of different folk remedies, and discusses the common misuses as well as correct uses of medications commonly available. It starts with a discussion of traditional concepts of illness and healing, and from there leads into ‘modern’ concepts. The book, which has hundreds of simple but informative drawings, is also used by health workers to teach patients about their health problems, their causes and prevention.” An interesting feature of this book is a colored index that tells the names and uses of drugs the villagers may come into contact with. (Many of these drugs are commonly used without any knowledge of their effects.)This new revised edition contains updated medical advice throughout, and also much new information: AIDS and some other sexually transmitted diseases, dengue, leishmaniasis, guinea worm, sickle cell disease, and measuring blood pressure. This new book has the most current information on women’s health care, first aid, appropriate low-cost nutrition and cereal based oral rehydration, and also covers some health problems related to social issues such as dangerous pesticides, complications from abortion and drug addiction.

Health Care and Human Dignity, MF 27-684, paper, 25 pages, by David Werner, 1976, $2.00 from the Hesperian Foundation 1919 Addison St – Suite 304 – Berkeley – CA 94704 – USA 1-888-729-1796 510-845-1447 510-845-9141(fax)

Written by the author of Where There Is No Doctor (see review), this paper briefly summarizes the major insights gained from a study of nearly forty rural health projects in Central and South America. It is the clearest, most coherent discussion we have seen of the features of “community supportive” rural health programs and the obstacles to be faced by people wishing to foster these programs on a broader scale. “Community supportive programs or functions are those which favorably influence the long-range welfare of the community, that help it stand on its own feet, that genuinely encourage responsibility, initiative, decision making and self-reliance at the community level, that build upon human dignity …. The programs which in general we found to be more community supportive were small, private, or at least non-government programs, usually operating on a shoestring and with a more or less sub rosa (low-profile, unofficial) status”

Werner goes on to identify key factors tending to limit or slow the growth of community supportive programs: paternalistic attitudes among those in charge of health care delivery programs, overemphasis on medical “safety,” bureaucracy (or, the “superstructure overpowering the infrastructure”), commercialization, and government fear of the politically destabilizing potential of increased rural skills and abilities. The paper concludes with a list of steps that might be taken to implement a countrywide approach to community supportive health care. Appendices compare and contrast the objectives, size, financing, and other characteristics of “community supportive” vs. “community oppressive” health programs.

An extremely useful combination of criticism and positive suggestions for future progress, of interest to anyone interested in health as part of community self-reliance. Highly recommended.

The Village Health Worker—Lackey or Liberator?, MF 27-714, paper with charts and drawings, 16 pages, by David Werner, 1977, $2.00 from the Hesperian Foundation 1919 Addison St – Suite 304 – Berkeley – CA 94704 – USA 1-888-729-1796 510-845-1447 510-845-9141(fax)

David Werner elaborates on points made in Health Care and Human Dignity (see review above), illustrating how socioeconomic context and political objectives of program planners affect rural health programs. Werner and several co-workers visited some 40 health worker programs in Latin America. “In the majority of cases, we found that external factors, far more than intrinsic factors, proved to be the determinants of what the primary health worker could do …. We concluded that the great variation in range and type of skills performed by village health workers in different programs has less to do with the personal potentials, local conditions or available funding than it has to do with the preconceived attitudes and biases of health program planners consultants and instructors. In spite of the often repeated eulogies about ‘primary decision making by the communities themselves,’ seldom do the villagers have much, if any say in what their health worker is taught and told to do. The limitations and potentials of the village health worker—what he is permitted to do and, conversely, what he could do if permitted—can best be understood if we look at his role in its social and political context. In Latin America, as in many other parts of the world, poor nutrition, poor hygiene, low literacy and high fertility help account for the high morbidity and mortality of the impoverished masses. But as we all know, the underlying cause—or more exactly, the primary disease—is inequity: inequity of wealth, of land, of educational opportunity, of political representation and of basic human rights …. As anyone who has broken bread with villagers or slum dwellers knows only too well: health of the people is far more influenced by politics and power groups, by distribution of land and wealth, than it is by treatment or prevention of disease.”

Health by the People, MF 27-683, book, 202 pages, edited by Kenneth Newell, 1975, order #1151072, 36 Swiss Francs or US $28.80 (30% discount for orders from developing countries) from WHO; also available in French.

These articles on 10 successful rural health programs in Indonesia, India, Guatemala, Venezuela, Niger, Iran, Tanzania, China and Cuba focus on community development and health services that use local people as health workers The.programs described range from national to village scale.

“There is no longer any doubt that a primary health worker can work effectively and in an acceptable manner and that he or she does not need to be a nurse or a doctor as we at present know them.” “The wider issues presented here include … self-sufficiency in all important matters and a reliance on outside resources only for emergencies, an understanding of the uniqueness of each community coupled with the individual and group pride and dignity associated with it; and lastly, the feeling that people have of a true unity between their land, their work and their household.”

“Each country or area started with the formation, reinforcement, or recognition of a local community organization. This appeared to have five relevant functions: it laid down the priorities; it organized community action for problems that could not be resolved by individuals (e.g., water supply or basic sanitation); it ‘controlled’ the primary health care service by selecting, appointing, or ‘legitimizing’ the primary health worker; it assisted in financing services; and it linked health actions with wider community goals.”

“In no example presented here is there a separation of the promotional, preventive, and curative actions at the primary health care level.”

Written by planners, participants, and observers.

The Principles and Practices of Primary Health Care, Contact Special Series No. 1, MF 27-707, book, 112 pages, 1979, Christian Medical Commission, World Council of Churches, out of print.

This is the first book of the Contact Special Series, which reproduces articles on a single theme from the bimonthly periodical Contact. Includes 16 readings focusing on primary health care. Good background reading.

Health: The Human Factor, Readings in Health, Development and Community Participation, Contact Special Series No. 3, MF 27-688, book, 124 pages, edited by Susan B. Rifkin, 1980, Christian Medical Commission, World Council of Churches, out of print.

This book includes 11 readings on community participation in relation to health programs.


Pediatric Priorities in the Developing World, MF 27-705, book, 429 pages, by Dr. David Morley, 1973, also in Indonesian, Spanish, French, and Portuguese, out of print, revised edition may be available by 1995 from TALC.

Dr. Morley “examines the problem facing child health services throughout the developing world: the urgent need to decide which of all the measures that may be taken to reduce the appalling levels of childhood mortality and morbidity should have the highest priorities when financial resources are so severely limited …. The author is responsible for the innovation of the under-fives’ clinic and for the design of a weight chart” to quickly identify and combat malnutrition. These two measures have subsequently been adopted by many developing countries.

“The author’s objective is to orient the medical student or doctor towards the practical problems he will meet when involved in child care in a rural community. Careful emphasis is placed on the social, economic, cultural and ethical.considerations which are ignored by most medical schools. Not only doctors but also nurses and other health workers … will benefit from this book. It is written for the doctor dissatisfied with the type of medical training which is based largely on European systems of health care, much of which may be inapplicable to his own country.”

Morley emphasizes low-cost health services, within the means of the people involved, and the need to make extensive use of auxiliaries and villagers themselves. Primary focus is on rural societies because of the large numbers of children and the need for a different type of health care system than that suited to urban areas. Morley also stresses the need for the pediatrician to work on health education, and teach her/his own skills to her/his staff.

Morley worked for many years in a rural area of Nigeria. More recently, he was instrumental in creating the Tropical Child Health Unit at the Institute of Child Health in London. He also helped create the group Teaching Aids at Low Cost.

Medical Care in Developing Countries, MF 27-694, book, 500 pages, edited by Maurice King, 1967, reprinted 1973, 813.95 from Oxford University Press, 2001 Evans Road, Cary, North Carolina 27513, USA; Spanish edition $8.50 (40% discount to charitable groups) from Editorial Pax Mexico, Libreria Carlos Cesarman, S.A., Avenida Cuauhtemoc 1434, Mexico 13 D.F., Mexico.

“A primer on the medicine of poverty.” This classic book evolved out of a WHO/UNICEF-supported conference on “Health Centres and Hospitals in Africa.” In it, Maurice King, David Morley, Derrick Jellife and others come together under King’s editorship to create a remarkable, comprehensive handbook for medical personnel. The slant is decidedly towards the doctor or other professional from the developed world who is working in the developing world. Material covered ranges from the organization of health services and the cross-cultural outlook in medicine to pediatrics, anaesthetics, and the laboratory. The recommendations are always realistically within the limits imposed by poverty and a commitment to get basic care to the largest number of people possible.

Primary Child Care: A Manual for Health Workers, Volume 1, book, 315 pages, by Maurice King, Felicity King, and Subagio Martodipoero, 1978, Oxford University Press, £3.50 from TALC; also available in Portuguese; also from TOOL.

Sponsored by the World Health Organization, this basic English text is intended to be adapted and translated for direct use by health workers everywhere “It contains a selection of the most appropriate technologies for primary child care taken from all over the world.”

The step-by-step approach, from the basics to the needed level of understanding, makes this a valuable book for people with only a limited knowledge of the field. For each major category of illness (e.g., “Coughs”), the authors begin with illustrations and background information on the system or parts of the body affected (e.g., respiratory system). Then they discuss the different combinations of symptoms, diagnosis and treatment. They have included many effective diagrams that explain how infections and diseases spread.

More than 80 pages are devoted to community health problems, supplies and equipment, and procedures for examination, sterilization of equipment, and record-keeping. Dosage information is provided for all drugs mentioned. There is a glossary of 200 key scientific and medical terms, with which “you will probably be able to understand anything written in the rest of the book.”

The three authors invested years of hard work in this wonderful book, undoubtedly the most valuable one that WHO has ever sponsored. This is an outstanding resource, which could become the basis for training programs for child health workers at many levels.

First Aid: Responding to Emergencies, book, American National Red Cross 1991, stock no. 650005, available from Mosby Year Book, 7250 Parkway Drive, Suite 510, Hanover, Maryland 21076, USA.

A very good basic first aid book. Well-illustrated. A good value at the price. What is AIDS?, MF 27-728, booklet, 28 pages, by Christian Medical Commission available from Christian Medical Commission, World Council of Churches, 150 route de Ferney, 1211 Geneva 20, Switzerland. A brief illustrated manual for health workers, this booklet provides basic information on AIDS, such as how to prevent its spread, AIDS and pregnancy, what the HIV carrier should know, how to diagnose patients with AIDS, care and treatment, and handling equipment.

Animals Parasitic in Man, MF 27-670, book, 320 pages, by Geoffrey LaPage, 1963, out of print in 1985.

This is a detailed discussion and description of most of the parasites that commonly attack humans. The life cycles of the parasites, ways humans are infected, prevention techniques and some medical treatments are discussed in detail.

“In any event each parasitic animal is limited to a certain range of hosts. It is, that is to say, specific to these hosts and cannot live in others. This host-specificity is an important feature of parasitism and it will be necessary to refer to it throughout this book. It will be evident, for instance, that if a particular host, such as man, is one of the usual hosts of a certain species of parasitic animal, it is necessary, if we wish to prevent the spread of this parasitic species, to know what its other usual hosts are, because all these hosts may be sources from which the parasitic animal may spread. These other hosts are reservoirs of the infection and they are called reservoir hosts.”

Parasites are a problem in every part of the world that humans inhabit. Many of the parasites are so common in certain areas that it is quite unusual if an individual does not have them. Health campaigns to eliminate parasites must include education of the affected people about parasite hosts and requirements for preventing the spread of parasites. This book could be a useful reference in such an educational effort.

Communicable Diseases: A Manual for Rural Health Workers, MF 27-678, book, 349 pages, by Jan Eshuis and Peter Manschot, 1978, revised edition August 1992, $3.50 from AMRF, P.O. Box 30125, Nairobi, Kenya; also available from TOOL.

A training and reference manual for Medical Assistants and Rural Medical Aides in Tanzania. “Most of the common diseases in Africa are environmental diseases due to infection by living organisms—viruses, bacteria, protozoa, or metazoa. These are called communicable diseases because they spread from person to person, or sometimes animals to people. Together with malnutrition they are today the major cause of illness in Africa …. For the first time, all the essential information on communicable diseases, from both clinical and public health aspects, has been collected in one volume, adequate for the training of paramedical staff.”

This manual groups diseases by how they spread—by contact, by fecal contamination, by airborne germs, and so on. For each disease, information is provided on where it is found in Tanzania, causes, symptoms and diagnosis, and control. Much of the content is relevant in other regions. Most of the text is in simple English, although medical terms are also used. Drawings show sources and agents of disease in the African village environment. The authors discuss the kinds of public health measures which interrupt the transmission of diseases and prevent

their spread. Historically, adequate supplies of water and safe handling of human waste have been the most important factors in the prevention of communicable diseases.

The African Medical and Research Foundation has published a series of similar books on child health, health education, pharmacology, immunology, and other topics. More information on the series can be obtained from the Foundation at the address above.

Control of Communicable Diseases in Man, book, 418 pages, 13th edition, edited by Abram Benenson, 1975, revised 1980, American Public Health Association, Dfl. 22.70 from TOOL.

Communicable diseases and malnutrition are the major killers in the South. This is a good reference for teachers of health workers, and contains valuable ideas for program leaders who must cope with epidemics. The difficult language means that this book cannot be directly used in explaining the information to health workers. No attempt has been made to deal with the human, social, and cultural factors that must be considered before many of the recommendations can be followed. Some of the recommendations are not “affordable” in the Third World.

Helping Health Workers Learn: A Book of Methods, Aids and Ideas for Instructors at the Village Level, MF 27-689, book, 632 pages, by David Werner and Bill Bower, 1982, $13.00 ($6.00 to developing countries) plus $1.00 overseas shipping from the Hesperian Foundation 1919 Addison St – Suite 304 – Berkeley – CA 94704 – USA 1-888-729-1796 510-845-1447 510-845-9141(fax); also available from ITDG and TOOL.

This excellent book is the best of several new manuals on the training of village health workers. It is drawn primarily from more than 15 years’ experience with an unusual community-based clinic and network of health workers operating in the tiny communities of mountainous Sinaloa in Mexico. Some of the material comes from visits and communications with health worker training programs in 35 countries.

Here is a wealth of good ideas for teaching about health and demonstrating health care practices, using simple materials and group participation. Some of these nonformal educational approaches can be effectively applied to disseminate information in other fields. David Werner is the primary author of the widely used and translated manual Where There Is No Doctor (see review). Bill Bower has contributed to the Spanish and English translations and revisions of Where There Is No Doctor, and has worked extensively in health worker training in Central America and Mexico. Both authors have visited many different training programs around the world.

Child-to-Child, book, 104 pages, by Audrey Aarons and Hugh Hawes, with Juliet Gayton, 1979, £3.90 from MacMillan Education, Houndmills, Basingstoke RG21 2XS, United Kingdom.

“We know a group of community workers who know every inch of the village in which they work, who are accepted by everyone, who want to help their community, who will work hard (for short periods of time) and cheerfully (all the time). Last month, the health worker used them to collect information about which children had been vaccinated in the village. Next Tuesday, some of them will help to remind the villagers that the baby clinic is coming and they will be at hand to play with the older children when mothers take their babies to see the nurse. Next month they plan to help the school teacher in a village clean-up campaign. These health workers are the boys and girls of the village …. This book … calls on us to recognize what children already do towards helping each other and helping us. It suggests ways in which we can support them and in which we can make their contribution more effective, easier, and more fun.”

This well-illustrated book was put together with ideas from around the world, from people who believe that development starts with local level action. It provides a selection of possible activities, such as organizing a survey, making a community health map, discovering common accident patterns and preventing them, treating children with diarrhea (including making a special salt and sugar spoon for the water mixture to treat diarrhea), caring for sick brothers and sisters, and finding out what younger children eat and whether it is nutritionally adequate.

Experience thus far suggests that this is an effective approach to health education. These examples of community-based learning and action (in which local resources skills and problems are identified) are models of the kinds of steps essential for people’s participation in any type of development effort.

Teaching Village Health Workers: A Guide to the Process, two books, 117 pages total plus several charts and visual aid cards, $3.00 plus postage from Voluntary Health Association of India, Tong Swasthya Bhavan, 40 Institutional Area, Near Qutab Hotel, New Delhi 110 016, India.

Book One vividly illustrates how trainers of village health workers can approach communities in a sensitive manner. Diagrams, cartoons, and text give examples of how knowledge of the community helps village health workers deal with problems more effectively. “Don’t be blinded to the social, political and economic forces which will play an important part in the shape and direction of the community health programme.”

The first requirement is that the trainer be a “changed person.” “Do you really feel that a little-educated, or illiterate woman or man knows more than you do about the village? Are you willing to learn from them and the other ‘students’ in your class of village health workers?” With this orientation, Book One offers guidelines for curriculum development, teaching methods, and simple communications media.

Book Two (Lesson Plans and Curriculum Charts) describes how to teach a limited range of specific treatments and preventative measures to village health workers. Because the health workers in this program were mostly illiterate, the level of sophistication has been limited. Certainly, literate health workers in many communities will be able to go far beyond this material, to use of more comprehensive manuals like Where There Is No Doctor or Primary Child Care (see reviews).

Reference Material for Health Auxiliaries and Their Teachers, MF 27-709, annotated bibliography, 164 pages, bilingual English/French, 1982, 2nd edition WHO Offset Publication No. 28, stock no. 1120028, $12.00 from WHO.

This reference work is WHO’s response to “the shortage of suitable reference material (textbooks, manuals, course guides, etc.) for health auxiliaries and their teachers and a nearly complete lack of such material in the local language spoken by these auxiliaries. In the delivery of health care the biggest need is for health auxiliaries working in rural and ‘ultrarural’ areas, i.e. medical assistants, auxiliary nurses, midwives, nurse-midwives and auxiliary sanitarians. Therefore REMEHA decided to concentrate its attention on reference material for these categories ….”

“It was also agreed that by first giving priority to reference material suitable for the use of teachers—both groups, teachers and students, would be served. The main long term objective, however, should be to promote production at national and local level of reference material for students—in other words to compose a kind of ‘do-it-yourself kit’ for teachers which should include a set of good examples of existing reference and source materials, a guide on the writing of manuals, and illustration material. This could enable them to undertake the local production of reference material for students which would meet the local requirements better and may be written in the local language.”

540 references were selected from those gathered. The annotations are brief but concise. Publisher and price are given where possible.

Medicine and Public Health in the People’s Republic of China, MF 27-697, book, 333 pages, edited by Joseph Quinn for the Fogarty International Center, 1973, Department of Health, Education, and Welfare Publication No. (NIH) 73617, out of print.

Here is a collection of articles with information not found in the other books on China we’ve reviewed. The section “Chinese Medicine Throughout the Ages” includes articles on acupuncture, surgery, traditional medicine as a basis for medical practice and the role of the family in health care. The second section treats public health laws, health care in rural areas, and the training of medical workers and the Academy of Medical Sciences. The last group of articles describes the health problems that China is struggling to overcome today.

Health Care in China—An Introduction, MF 27-685, book, 140 pages, Christian Medical Commission, 1974, out of print in 1985.

The Christian Medical Commission gathered a group of medical and social scientists in Hong Kong (3 of whom then visited the People’s Republic of China). This group was asked to try to answer the question “What in the Chinese experience of rebuilding a health care system might be of value to communities in other cultures and social systems?”

The resulting book was intended to “be of value to health workers both in the developing world and in the industrially developed countries where the failures in health care systems stand out so sharply against the technological and economic advancement.”.The topics include: the relationship of health to national development goals, health care organization, epidemic disease control, population policies, traditional and Western medical practices, and human power for health care. At the end, an interesting list of the contents of a barefoot doctor’s bag is provided.

A good overview of the Chinese health care system by an impartial group.

A Barefoot Doctor’s Manual, MF 27-674, book, 384 pages, translation of a 1970 Chinese manual by the United States Department of Health, Education and Welfare, Public Health Service, Madrona Publications, out of print.

This enormous paperback was translated by the U.S. Dept. of Health, Education and Welfare, from a manual originally published by the Institute of Traditional Chinese Medicine of Hunan Province, People’s Republic of China, in September 1970. “It focuses on the improvement of medical and health care facilities in the rural villages. The purpose is to integrate the following areas: prevention and treatment; disease and symptoms, with stress on disease; traditional Chinese and Western medicine, with attention on traditional Chinese medicine; the native and the foreign, with focus on the native; and mass promotion and quality improvement with mass production as the base, and quality treatment as the goal. By following these principles and adapting itself to actual conditions on the rural level, this manual aims to basically meet the working needs of the “barefoot doctors” serving the broad rural population.

The first six chapter headings are: Understanding the Human Body, Hygiene Introduction to Diagnostic Techniques, Therapeutic Techniques (Chinese herbs, folk treatment, Western treatment), Birth Control, and Diagnosis and Treatment of Common Diseases. The seventh chapter is an extensive one (400 pages) on Chinese medicinal plants.

The successful integration of traditional with Western medicine serves as a useful model for many other societies.

Better Child Care, MF 27-676, booklet, 52 pages, 1977, revised 1989 edition available for $0.60 plus postage from Voluntary Health Association of India, Tong Swasthya Bhavan, 40 Institutional Area, Near Qutab Hotel, New Delhi 110 016, India.

Good use of photos and a weatherproof plastic cover make this a model low-cost booklet on proper feeding and ensuring normal growth. Excellent color photos will be of great help in identifying anemia, which in 80% of cases is visually evident.

Nutrition for Developing Countries, MF 27-702, book, 300 pages, by Maurice King and others, 1972, revised 1992 English edition available at the end of 1992 from TALC; Spanish edition $10.00 from Editorial Pax Mexico, Libreria Carlos Cesarman, S.A., Avenida Cuauhtemoc 1434, Mexico 13 DF, Mexico; 40% discount to charitable organizations for the Spanish edition.

“There are many reasons why children are malnourished. One of them is that people do not know enough about nutrition or how to feed children. This is why we have written this book. Some of the people who might read it have not been long in school, so we have tried to write it in easy English with as few new words as possible. We hope that it will be useful to everyone who can do anything to improve nutrition and especially to medical assistants, medical students, nurses, midwives, agricultural assistants, community development and home craft.workers, and also to teachers in schools. All these people can teach other people. This, therefore, is mostly a book to teach what and how to teach.”

Chapter headings include: Growth, When Growth Fails, Proteins, Energy Foods, Vitamins and Minerals, Non-Foods and Water, More About Food, The Need for Food and its Cost, Feeding the Family, Artificial Feeding, The Food-Path, Helping Families to Help Themselves, and Helping the Community to Help Itself. The appendix explains how this book can be used in class. There is also a vocabulary index which explains the unusual terms.

The authors say that this is mostly a book for Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, Botswana, Rhodesia, and Kenya. It certainly has much that would be of interest anywhere. Includes many drawings.

Nutrition Rehabilitation: Its Practical Application, MF 27-703, book, 130 pages, by Joan Koppert, 1977, out of print in 1985.

Nutrition information refers to care and dietary supervision for malnourished children and their mothers. It is an attractive alternative to hospital care for under-nourishment. “In most developing countries, around 1 percent of all children under the age of five years will be suffering from a severe degree of malnutrition at any one time, and in many countries the figure is far higher. In addition, there is a very much larger group of undernourished children. Admitting a tiny minority of the malnourished children to highly expensive hospital wards is almost irrelevant, particularly since studies have shown that a high proportion of such children die either in hospital or in the year subsequent to discharge. A more fundamental and realistic approach to the problem by promoting adequate growth— monitored by a weight chart held by every child—has been developed with the advent of the ‘Under-Fives’ Clinics. However, even in the few countries where such services are widely available, some children will develop a more severe malnutrition, and it is for these that nutrition rehabilitation centers are desperately needed.”

This book is intended to be “an instruction manual with detailed information on the setting up of a center and its day-to-day running, a place where mothers would learn how to prepare balanced meals for their young, especially weaning children, on returning to their homes. Home economy, household budgeting, home gardening, food values, fathers’ cooperation and ways and means of improving the family income have been included. Practical advice is given on the siting and construction of a center along with the financial implications …. Methods of administration and follow-up care are described.”

Also included are helpful sections on community surveys and record-keeping. A useful, low-cost book summarizing a practical approach to an important problem in rural health care.

Mosquito Control: Some Perspectives for Developing Countries, MF 27-701, report, 63 pages, attached summaries in Spanish and French, National Academy of Sciences, 1973, quote accession number PB 224-749 when ordering from NTIS, paper copies $17.00 domestic, $34.00 foreign; microfiche $8.00 domestic, $16.00 foreign; from NTIS.

“Not a technical handbook, this report aims at arousing interest in some unusual but promising mosquito control methods that might otherwise be ignored. It is written for administrators or program directors of agencies that fund mosquito control research and application projects and for scientists working on neighboring topics.”

The booklet deals exclusively with biological control of mosquitoes, though the need for simultaneous environmental control (e.g., drainage) is stressed. No pesticide approaches are discussed, in part because “… mosquito resistance to chemical pesticides has caused the failure of many vector-control campaigns.” Particularly successful seems to be the minnow Gambusia Affinis, which can destroy large numbers of mosquitoes by feeding on the larvae. This approach is “particularly appropriate for controlling mosquitoes in rice paddies and small water impoundments.”

Handbook on the Prevention and Treatment of Schistosomiasis, MF 27-682, book, Geographic Health Studies, FIC, 1977, translation of a Chinese publication, DHEW Publication No. (NIH) 77-1290, out of print, a few copies still available free of charge from FIC Publications Office, Building 16, Room 306, National Institute of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA.

This is an English translation of a Chinese handbook, originally published by the Shanghai Municipal Institute for Prevention and Treatment of Schistosomiasis (also known as bilharzia). China is perhaps the only developing country that appears to have been highly successful in controlling schistosomiasis. This book offers some valuable insights into how this can be accomplished.

There are five stages in the life cycle of the schistosome: 1) adult schistosomes, in humans and animals, produce eggs which 2) hatch in water, 3) enter snails and change form, 4) leave the snails, 5) reenter humans and animals, and develop to adult size. If any of these stages can be eliminated, schistosomiasis can be stopped. Most control efforts concentrate on the destruction of the snails.

The snails in irrigation canals and rivers “are mostly distributed in a line on the water level …. Snail elimination can be coordinated with dredging of riverbed soil as fertilizer …. Build a dam and drain the water to lower the water level or utilize the dry season to expose the noninfested area of the base of the bank. Dig a ditch …. The noninfested soil is piled on the side of the ditch near the center of the riverbed …. Pare the soil 3 inches deep. First pare the heavily infested soil near the water level, and dump it into the ditch. Clean up the loose soil, and cover the whole ditch with noninfested soil …. A five-inch layer of soil is used which is then pounded and hardened”

Other chapters in this handbook discuss frequently used chemicals for killing snails (some of them very environmentally hazardous), personal protection, diagnostic procedures, treatment of patients, safe treatment of manure, and schistosomiasis in farm animals.

Better Care in Leprosy, MF 27-675, booklet, 64 pages, 1978, revised 1990 edition available for $0.55 plus postage from Voluntary Health Association of India, Tong Swasthya Bhavan, 40 Institutional Area, Near Qutab Hotel, New Delhi 110 016, India.

A simple booklet with good photos and discussion to help distinguish leprosy from other skin problems that are similar in appearance.

Philippine Medicinal Plants in Common Use: Their Phytochemistry and Pharmacology, MF 27-706, book, by Michael L. Tan, 1980, Alay Kapwa Kilusang Pangkalusugan (AKAP), Philippines, out of print.

Covering the major medicinal plants of the Philippines, this book discusses their cultivation, harvest, storage and medicinal uses. The chemical composition of each plant is provided. Plants are indexed according to Latin names (family, genus, species).

“The present thrust of research into medicinal plants is geared towards the screening of plants for cardiovascular, anti-cancer and anti-fertility drugs. While this type of research has its value, it seems inappropriate in countries where available forms of treatment for widespread diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria, and schistosomiasis continue to be beyond the reach of the majority of the victims. In the Philippines, the situation is even more disturbing, with recent studies revealing that 95% of the materials used to produce ‘local’ drugs are, in fact, imported.”

There are sketches of many of the plants and the text is easy to read. Many of these plants are found or could be grown in other tropical, sub-tropical and mild temperate zones. The book also has a section on weights and measures, a guide to preparation of medicines using the plants mentioned, and a list of sources for further information.

Highly recommended.

Medicinal Plants, booklet, 39 pages, by I. and J. Lecup, 1984, from Lecup, French Embassy, P.O. Box 452, Kathmandu, Nepal; or UNICEF, P.O. Box 1187, Kathmandu.

In northern Nepal, medicinal plants are collected by animal herders and sold in the towns. “They collect in one place everything they can with no regard to the reproduction of the plants for the following years. This uncontrolled gathering is followed by methods of drying unsuited to all kinds of plants. Such methods include direct sunrays, or over-fire hanging. Dried in this way, the medicinal herbs lose the major part of the medicinal value for which they are gathered. After prolonged storage in damp conditions, and following a long commercial circuit to the final destination, plants arrive in very poor quality, in insufficient and irregular quantity.”

This booklet describes the growth stages of 6 different categories of plants, and how and when to harvest them to allow for future regrowth. Advice on drying and storage for better quality is also provided. The specific plants mentioned are all local Himalayan species, but the harvesting recommendations based on root and tuber growth etc. can be applied to other plants as well.

Simple Dental Care for Rural Hospitals, MF 27-712, 26 pages, by D. Halestrap, available from Medical Missionary Association, 244 Camden Road, London NW1 9HE, England; also available from TOOL.

This booklet came out of the author’s experiences with dental workers in rural Africa. Extraction, sometimes without local anaesthesia, was usually the only treatment provided in cases of severe toothache or advanced gum disease. “Consequently, it was considered that the dental workers in many of these hospitals would benefit from some further instruction in simple dental work, so the author arranged to provide this by revisiting some eighteen of them. Any necessary instruments were supplied where needed and an experimental edition of this.booklet was used during the work in order to provide a background to, and reminder of, what was being taught. It has now been revised in the light of further experience …. Its aim, therefore, is to offer a simple basic textbook for use in rural hospitals in developing countries, it being primarily for the benefit of the paramedical worker whose job it is to treat dental patients.” It is not intended to replace training, but to reinforce it.

There are simple explanations of tooth decay, gum disease, and how to keep teeth clean. The treatment shown is removal of tartar, locating and giving injections prior to extraction, and methods of extracting teeth. Complications are briefly discussed. Sketches of a homemade headrest that attaches to a regular chair are included. Simple English text, well-illustrated.

Where There Is No Dentist, MF 27-719, book, 188 pages, by Murray Dickson, 1983, $6.50 (plus $1.00 overseas shipping) from the Hesperian Foundation 1919 Addison St – Suite 304 – Berkeley – CA 94704 – USA 1-888-729-1796 510-845-1447 510-845-9141(fax); also available from ITDG and TOOL.

This book fills a gap in the literature on dental care, between materials that are too simple and those that are too complicated for use by village health workers. As was the case with Where There Is No Doctor, the author begins from the fact that most people in developing countries have no access to dentists, and the dental treatment they receive, if any, is provided by people with few skills. This volume attempts to remedy the situation, emphasizing preventative dental education, especially among children, and providing the details necessary to carry out simple curative work when needed.

The Tooth Trip, MF 27-713, book, 232 pages, by Thomas McGuire (D.D.S.), 1972, Random House, Inc., out of print.

Delightful and well-illustrated, this very readable book “tells how you can completely prevent cavities and gum disease through self-examinations and home care.” It explains tooth decay and gum and mouth diseases, and provides enough information for the reader to determine the likely nature of any mouth problem he or she may have. The author explains the procedures and associated equipment so that the patient can understand what’s happening and participate in decision-making about what treatment he or she will get for a particular dental problem.

Highly recommended for Americans. The illustrated simple explanations of preventive dental care will be of interest to health and dental programs in developing countries.

Disabled Village Children: A Guide for Community Health Workers, Rehabilitation Workers, and Families, MF 27-730, book, 654 pages, by David Werner, 1987, $16.00 postpaid to highly-developed countries, $7.00 to less-developed countries, from the Hesperian Foundation 1919 Addison St – Suite 304 – Berkeley – CA 94704 – USA 1-888-729-1796 510-845-1447 510-845-9141(fax)

In this remarkable book, David Werner and colleagues around the world have focused on the needs of disabled children, especially those in rural areas of poor countries where resources are severely limited. It covers the “most common disabilities of children: … physical disabilities, blindness, deafness, fits, behavior problems, and developmental delay. It gives suggestions for simplified rehabilitation, low-cost aids, and ways to help disabled children find a role and be accepted in the community. Above all, the book helps us to realize that most of the.answers for meeting these children’s needs can be found within the community, the family, and in the children themselves. It discusses ways of starting small community rehabilitation centers and workshops run by disabled persons or the families of disabled children.” Four thousand line drawings and two hundred photos.

Alternative Limbmaking: The Manufacture and Fitting of Low-Cost Below Knee Prostheses, MF 28-722, book, 177 pages, by Bob Pluyter et. al., 1989, AHRTAG, £4.00 plus £2.00 postage from TALC.

This begins with an examination of the stump on which a prosthesis is to be fitted, covering the important considerations in where pressure can be supported and where it cannot. The production of a stump cast, to allow a good fit, is covered next. The prosthesis itself is made of wood, rubber, aluminum, leather, and other materials. Very well-illustrated.

This is one of those technologies in which the developed-country alternative is extraordinarily expensive, whereas the use of craft traditions can mean low-cost, custom-fit, and local materials.

Some of the language is difficult, and not all of the steps are clear from the illustrations, but the careful reader will find this an illuminating and very helpful reference.

More With Less: Aids for Disabled People for Daily Living, MF 28-723, book, text in English and Spanish, 90 pages, by Gerry van der Hulst et. al., 1990, Dfl. 11.50 from TOOL; or £3.95 from ITDG.

This is a collection of simple devices and easy-to-make aids which can make life easier for disabled children and adults. All of the items shown are used in the Netherlands, but they could be made in any developing country at low cost. There is a large drawing of each item in use, with a description in both English and Spanish. Clever articles of clothing, gardening tools, and devices to help with eating, walking, getting dressed, and reading are among the topics covered.

Independence Through Mobility: A Guide to the Manufacture of the ATI-Hotchkiss Wheelchair, MF 27-729, book, 154 pages, by Ralf Hotchkiss, 1985 $15.00 from Appropriate Technology International, 1331 H Street N.W., Washington, DC 20005, USA.

The ATI-Hotchkiss wheelchair is a high-performance, rough terrain, low-cost wheelchair designed for production and use in the difficult conditions of developing countries. The design represents the evolution of years of design work with input from wheelchair builders in over 20 countries.

“Third World wheelchair riders need wheelchairs that can fold to fit in crowded living quarters or in the aisle of a bus …. These wheelchairs should have good traction, stability, and should be light and agile enough for the rider to travel over rough ground … strong enough to withstand rough handling (as they are tossed on and off the roof of a bus). When parts do fail, they must have been designed to be repaired locally. Last but not least, these wheelchairs must be affordable.”

This well-illustrated production manual is intended to help the reader start a small business building wheelchairs. It provides information on costs necessary along with the technical information needed to build these wheelchairs.

Personal Transport for Disabled People: Design and Manufacture, MF 27-724, book, 91 pages, by Michael Wyre of I.T. Transport, 1984, AHRTAG, £2.50 plus £2.00 postage from TALC; or £2.50 from ITDG.

A collection of simple designs for wheelchairs and carts, with attention to frames and wheel construction. This is at the very simple end of the continuum of such equipment. The Hotchkiss wheelchair designs are much more sophisticated and durable than these, representing a more intermediate technology between these designs and the very expensive industrial-country wheelchair.

Low Cost Physiotherapy Aids, MF 27-718, booklet, 45 pages, by Don Caston, 1982, Appropriate Health Resources and Technologies Action Group (AHRTAG) out of print.

Physiotherapy involves rehabilitation of injuries through exercise and stretching. Needed are devices that can be pulled, pushed, lifted and twisted by the patient. These devices can be quite expensive to buy. Here are self explanatory drawings of a variety of simple aids that can be made of common, locally available materials: bamboo or wood, string, cloth, and old bicycle inner tubes. A small workshop at a clinic could make these devices for patients, or they could be made by relatives by looking at the drawings. Few tools are needed.

Rattan and Bamboo: Equipment for Physically Handicapped Children, MF 27-708, booklet with 13 large sheets of drawings, by J.K. Hutt, 1979, Disabilities Studies Unit, United Kingdom, out of print.

Detailed designs of a variety of chairs and walking supports made of rattan and bamboo. The ready availability of the materials, good strength and durability in the tropics, and ease of repair make these designs attractive. All drawings use English measurements. There is no text to explain the particular use of each piece of equipment.

How to Make Basic Hospital Equipment, MF 27-690, book, 86 pages, compiled by Roger England, ITDG, 1979, out of print.

This booklet contains construction drawings for 22 different pieces of hospital equipment that can be produced in a small workshop. All dimensions and assembly instructions are given.

The larger equipment includes an invalid carriage with chain drive, an instrument trolley, a hospital wheelchair (not self-operated), a rough terrain wheelchair, a bicycle ambulance (essentially a wheelchair with a bicycle-pulled towbar), a blood transfusion drip stand and a patient’s trolley. In addition, there are such things as folding beds, a bamboo walking frame, and other furniture. Of particular interest are a neonatal suction pump, a premature baby incubator that uses standard electric light bulbs for heat, calipers, an exercising machine, a low pressure air bed, and thermoplastic aids made of plastic drainpipe.

All of the designs were developed in hospital workshops and the Zaria.Intermediate Technology Workshop (Nigeria). The drawings have been reproduced with the hope that they will “provide ideas and stimulation to those interested in intermediate techniques.”

A Medical Laboratory for Developing Countries, MF 27-694, book, 500 pages, edited by Maurice King, 1967, reprinted 1976, out of print; Spanish edition may still be available from Editorial Pax Mexico, Libreria Carlos Cesarman, S.A., Avenida Cuauhtemoc 1434, Mexico 13 D.F., Mexico, at a 40% discount to charitable organizations.

“This book aims to bring the minimum level of laboratory services within the range of everyone in developing countries and is written especially for laboratory and medical assistants who work in health centres and district hospitals. Each piece of equipment needed in a medical laboratory is fully described and illustrated. (These drawings are not intended to be used for local production of the equipment.) Every step in the examination of specimens is simply explained and the method of performing it is illustrated; the methods chosen are those that give the greatest diagnostic value at the minimum cost. Ways of obtaining specimens are given, and where it might prove helpful, some anatomy, physiology and a brief account of treatment is included. The last chapter contains a detailed equipment list (total cost about $500 in 1973).”

Users should have some basic laboratory science training, and a good knowledge of English. King attempts to present the material in “easy English,” but this does not mean that beginning English speakers will be able to use this manual. Good drawings help to overcome some language problems. King covers the following major topics: basic relevant chemistry, sterile technique, descriptions of equipment and chemicals, records and specimens, weighing and measuring, the microscope, blood, urine, cerebrospinal fluid, stools, blood transfusion, and other specimens. There are more than 100 clear color plates of commonly seen slide specimens (in the hardback edition).

This manual is focused on what are certainly “intermediate” technology and techniques for medical laboratories. Medical technology, in the rich countries is rapidly becoming so capital-intensive that progressively fewer people can afford good quality care. Medical personnel are at the same time becoming increasingly dependent on expensive machines and tests to carry out their duties. Compared to this, King’s book is a down-to-earth catalog of relatively inexpensive equipment for basic laboratory tests. However, virtually all of the equipment King mentions would have to be imported (at a cost which in 1973 amounted to $500 per health center).

Manual of Basic Techniques for a Health Laboratory, MF 27-693, large paperback book, 487 pages, 1980, stock no. 1150120, Swiss Francs 30.00 or US $24.00 (30% discount to developing countries) from WHO; also available in French.

“(This) manual is intended for use mainly in medical laboratories in developing countries. It is designed particularly for use in … small or medium-sized laboratories attached to regional hospitals and in dispensaries and rural health centres where the laboratory technician often has to work alone …. The manual describes only direct examination procedures that can be carried out with a microscope or other simple apparatus. For example: the examination of stools for parasites; the examination of blood for malaria parasites; the examination of sputum for tubercle bacilli; the examination of urine for bile pigments; the.leukocyte type number fraction; the dispatch of stools to specialized laboratories for the detection of cholera vibrios.”

This is the second, expanded edition of a book prepared both as a teaching manual and as a reference for health center laboratory technicians. Techniques are explained with text and line drawings in step-by-step fashion, from collecting specimens to recording results. Many photographs and drawings show what parasites and bacteria look like under the microscope. Also included: lists of all reagents (lab chemicals) used, and how to make or obtain them; and a list of all the apparatus needed to equip a laboratory which could carry out all the examinations in the book. An introductory chapter on “general laboratory procedures” gives detailed instructions on using and cleaning a microscope; sterilizing water and glassware; storage and preparation of materials and specimens; and simple plumbing and electrical repairs in a laboratory.

Medical Laboratory Manual for Tropical Countries, book, by Monica Cheesbrough, Volume I,1990 (revised second edition), £7.95 postpaid to developing countries, £17.50 postpaid to others; Volume II, 1990, £6.95 postpaid to developing countries, £14.50 postpaid to others; from Tropical Health Technology, 14 Bevills Close, Doddington March, Cambridgeshire PE15 OTT, England.

Cheesbrough discusses laboratory techniques for regional hospitals and essential tests for community health centers. She includes sections on lab organization, anatomy and physiology, diagnosis of parasitic infections (with wall charts of important parasites), and clinical chemistry.

Establishing a Refugee Camp Laboratory, MF 27-725, book, 40 pages, by Warren Johns, ANZIMLT, 1987, available from Save the Children, 17 Grove Lane, London SE5 8RD, United Kingdom.

A short, quick look at what needs to be done, and done quickly, in setting up a refugee camp laboratory under difficult circumstances. This book provides the voice of experience, concentrating on what can and should be done with minimal resources and pressing needs. The author recommends books to be brought in to the laboratory setting, and lists laboratory equipment suppliers.

He also provides a detailed list of supplies and small equipment necessary to set up a refugee camp laboratory.

A Model Health Centre, MF 27-700, book, 167 pages, Conference of Missionary Societies in Great Britain and Ireland, 1975, British Council of Churches, out of print.

“A design primer and reference book for those engaged in planning, developing, and operating health services whether at a national or local level.”

This manual offers some practical ideas on the architectural layout of a model health center, building dimensions, and cost of materials, with many detailed sketches and diagrams. It also discusses clinic schedules, record-keeping, number and type of staff, operational policies, programs in immunization, nutrition and maternal-child health, under-fives clinics, oral hygiene, school visits, latrine construction, and community involvement and support.

“Not only are the staff to go out into the community, but also the to have facilities within the centre; these facilities being the main new idea generated by this study.” The need for medical auxiliaries is also identified, recognizing that they can do an “immensely valuable job extremely well” in promoting community-based preventive medicine. The center ideally would have a staff of eight: two nurses, midwives, or medical assistants working with 4 auxiliaries (with 1-2 years in-service training) and 2 local assistants. The center is expected to be able to refer patients to doctors in a district hospital when necessary, and to receive visits from doctors on a regular basis. The bibliography includes books recommended for the health center library.

Design for Medical Buildings, book, 146 pages, by Philip Mein and Thomas Jorgenson, 1975, reprinted 1980, $6.00 plus $2.50 surface mail plus $2.00 foreign bank charges, from The Director, Housing Research and Development Unit, University of Nairobi, P.O. Box 30197, Nairobi, Kenya.

“The manual contains design, construction and cost guidelines for the building of medical facilities with limited resources. It has been prepared primarily for the doctor and his staff who, in rural Africa, must often be their own architects. It should however also be of value to the architect who, perhaps for the first time, is confronted with the special problems associated with the provision of medical buildings in rural areas.

“Medical buildings at present tend to be excessively expensive, consuming funds which are sorely needed in other areas such as the primary health sector. The guiding principle of this book is that the expenditure of material, monetary and manpower resources (on buildings) should be reduced to the lowest level consistent with adequate and acceptable medical care.”

The book covers everything from initial feasibility studies to supervision of the construction work. “Each building problem requires its own solution according to local needs.” Design examples are given, but the emphasis is on “providing the tools and methodology for design in the form of standards and guidelines.”

“The best guide to an appropriate type of construction is to study other buildings in the area, for example, their shape, whether they have flat or pitched roofs, and the materials from which they are made. It is generally true that the further one deviates from the local architecture, the more money and time will be used in building.”

Anaesthesia at the District Hospital, MF 27-720, book, 143 pages, by Michael B. Dobson, 1988, 20 Swiss francs or US $18.00 (order no. 1150289) from WHO.

“The needs of a small hospital are best served by the regular use of relatively few anaesthetic techniques that can provide good anaesthesia for virtually any clinical situation. This book is intended to be a manual of such techniques.” “Prepared for the guidance of medical officers (not specialists) in small hospitals, who find themselves responsible for providing anaesthesia for both elective and emergency surgery, to help them provide safe and effective anaesthesia for their patients. The techniques described have been chosen to be suitable for use in hospitals that are subject to constraints on personnel, equipment, and drugs and where doctors have limited access to specialist services. Indeed, the content of the book reflects the fact that good anaesthesia depends much more on skills, training, and standards than on the availability of expensive and complicated equipment.”

First there is “a description of the fundamental principles and techniques.underlying the practice of anaesthesia. This section includes the immediate and continuing care of critically ill, unconscious, or anaesthetized patients and the principles of fluid and electrolyte therapy. Both general and conduction anaesthesia are then described in detail. The reader is taken from the state of assessing the patient before anaesthesia through postoperative care, via chapters focusing on the methods, equipment, and drugs used for different types of anaesthesia. Special consideration is given to pediatric and obstetric anaesthesia and to medical conditions of importance to the anaesthetist. Numerous illustrations accompany and complement the text throughout.”

General Surgery at the District Hospital, MF 27-721, book, 231 pages, edited by John Cook, Balu Sankaran, and Ambrose E.O. Wasunna, 1988, 30 Swiss francs or US $27.00 (order no. 1150300) from WHO.

“This handbook describes general surgical procedures suitable for use in small hospitals that are subject to constraints on personnel, equipment, and drugs and where doctors have limited access to specialist services. It has been prepared for the medical officer who does not necessarily have a formal surgical training, but nevertheless has experience, gained under supervision of all the relevant techniques.

“After an overview of basic principles, the book describes, with numerous detailed illustrations, surgical procedures for the face and neck, chest, abdomen, gastrointestinal tract, and urogenital system; pediatric surgery is covered in a special section. Most of the operations included are for saving life, alleviating pain, preventing the development of serious complications, or stabilizing a patient’s condition pending referral. Simple but standard surgical techniques have been selected wherever possible, and procedures that require specialist skills or that could add unnecessarily to the doctor’s workload have been avoided. Essential surgical instruments, equipment, and materials for the district hospital are listed in the annexes.”

“This book is not intended for specialist surgeons or for non-physicians; it has been prepared … to serve the needs of small hospitals with limited resources.”

How to Look After a Refrigerator, MF 27-717, book, 58 pages, by Jonathan Elford, 1980, AHRTAG, £5.00 plus £2.00 postage from TALC.

“Vaccines need to stay cool all the time. If they are allowed to get hot, they become useless. Refrigerators keep vaccines cold and safe. Therefore, they play a very important role in protecting children against infectious diseases. But refrigerators break down easily, so they must be carefully looked after to keep them working properly.”

This volume includes information on simple maintenance and operation of kerosene absorption refrigerators (cleaning burners, trimming and adjusting the wick, cleaning the flue, etc.), and the regulation of gas and electric refrigerators. The author also discusses where to place different vaccines within the refrigerator, and how to pack cold boxes and vaccine carriers to protect vaccines as they are transported. An emergency action chart indicates how to identify and correct the problem if the refrigerator is too warm.

Dermatological Preparations for the Tropics, MF 27-726, book, 221 pages, by Peter Bakker et. al., 1991, Dfl. 30.00 from TOOL.

This book contains formulas and directions for the local, small-scale production of a wide range of medicines for the treatment of common skin diseases. “In the Third World, skin diseases form one of the main reasons for seeking medical advice. Nevertheless, little attention has been paid to the provision of adequate dermatological drugs for use in the tropical South. At best, some preparations developed for use in temperate climates are available. For use under tropical conditions, dermatologicals should meet more stringent requirements, such as being stable at higher temperatures ….”

Advice is provided on basic methods of small-scale production and good manufacturing practice.

For each drug, directions are provided for preparation, packaging, storage, dose and instructions for use, precautions, side effects, and symptoms and remedies in case of intoxication. Background information is provided on ointments, pastes, creams and lotions, and the stability of these drugs.

The Provision of Spectacles at Low Cost, MF 27-727, booklet, 28 pages, by WHO, 1987, $4.80 from WHO.

Here is a quick look at the technical requirements and costs of setting up small scale production units to produce eyeglasses.

“It is possible to produce lenses from inexpensive, ‘non-optical’ glass, but it is better to import high quality lens blanks made from ophthalmic glass. These can be ground and polished on both surfaces using machines that can either be imported or made from locally available components. Polishing compound will also be required. A small workshop, employing two or three workers, can produce 2000-3000 pairs per year, with a capital investment of US $2000-$2500 ….”

“The assembly of spectacles includes the process of cutting the ground and polished lenses (edging) to fit into the finished frames. This requires very limited resources and facilities. With the aid of two electric edging machines and some hand tools, one person can assemble over 3000 pairs of finished spectacles per year. The capital investment is between US $600 and US $900, and will allow the cost of finished spectacles to be kept within the range of US $2.50-3.50. The skills required for production, assembly and fitting can be acquired with 2-3 months of training. No special prior education is needed for such training.”

Health Records Systems, MF 27-687, booklet, 20 pages, by C. Frost and G. Ellmers, VITA, out of print in 1985.

“The development of this manual grew out of a need for an easy and concise health record system that required little or no experience with filing methods …. Because there are so many variables present in each medical application, this manual is not designed as a definitive answer to problems. Instead, it is hoped that the suggested methods can be adopted or modified to meet any situation.”

The booklet stresses the need for simplicity and uniformity in a health records system—for easy implementation and local use by workers with minimal training. Several record systems are explained, and sample charts and cards are included for each one.


An Agromedical Approach to Pesticide Management; see AGRICULTURE.

New AT Library Discount Application Form

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Appropriate Technology Library End of Year Sale

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A few of us, at Village Earth, recently watched Hernand de Soto’s video, titled “El misterio del capital de los indígenas amazónicas.” Village Earth is a non-profit organization that is currently working with Shipibo communities in the Ucayali River Basin and, consequently, we are interested in any proposals that might improve the livelihoods of indigenous peoples in the region. In this case We feel a certain urgency to respond given that de Soto uses examples of Native Americans from the U.S. state of Alaska. While we are not intimately familiar with the situation of Alaskan indigenous peoples, we have been working with the Lakota people from Pine Ridge Indian Reservation (in South Dakota) for more than ten years. And given that indigenous territory is such an important issue in Peru, we are not sure that the Alaskan case is the most appropriate example. Whatever the case, we would like to share our perspective on the experience of partitioning, essentially privatizing, land on Pine Ridge Reservation.
First, a few important facts about indigenous peoples (Native Americans) in the US:
Approximately 24.5 percent of Native Americans, an estimated 800,000 people, are living in poverty at or below the national poverty level in the United States. Despite this dire economic situation, Native Americans own a great deal of land, approximately 112,637.29 square miles, second only to the federal government.
Yet, many Native American’s have not been able to fully benefit from these vast resourcesbecause of various contradictions in the Federal land tenure policy for Indian lands. In particular, the obstacles created by the General Allotment Act (GAA) signed in to law in 1887, which along with the Burke Act in 1906, led to a “de facto” privatization of indigenous lands. Most importantly, these laws broke apart communally owned lands into individual parcels, which enabled private non-indigenous interests to control the vast majority (and most productive) lands on Pine Ridge Reservation. Today, the Lakota are still struggling to get these lands back in their control
Village Earth became intimately aware of the impacts of Partitioning (privatizing) Reservation lands through our work with families on the Pine Ridge Reservation who are struggling today to reverse the effects of a policy implemented over 120 years ago. Today, nearly 60% of lands allotted to Lakota families during 1887 General Allotment Act are being leased out, often to non-tribal private interests for a fraction of the fair market value. This has had a devastating impact on the people on Pine Ridge. According to the USDA 2007 Census of Agriculture for U.S. Indian Reservations, the market value of agriculture commodities produced on the Pine Ridge Reservation in 2007 totaled $54,541,000. Yet, less than 1/3 ($17,835,000) of that income went to Native American producers. How did the GAA contribute to this dire situation today?
After the period of European settlement in North America between 1492-1887, Native Americans were left with reservations consisting of only 150 million acres. Recognized through treaties as sovereign nations, these lands were largely unpartitioned and communally managed, a practice considered by the U.S. Government to be a non-productive and irrational use of resources. The Government’s solution was the General Allotment Act (GAA) of 1887, also known as the Dawes Severalty Act. The act partitioned reservation lands into 160 acre parcels for each head of family, 80 acre parcels to orphans, and 40 acres parcels to each child. After all the allotments were issued, the remaining reservation lands in the West was transferred to the Government who then made it available to white settlers free of charge as part of the Homestead Act. This amounted to a loss of over 60,000,000 acres, nearly 2/3rds of all Indian lands. Beyond the significant loss of lands, the GAA also created several challenges for the use and inheritance of the remaining lands that would have profound implications for future generations of Native Americans.
  • It broke apart communally managed lands into individually owned parcels, destroying the ability of many communities to be self sufficient on already limited and marginal lands.
  • It disrupted traditional residency patterns, forcing people to live on allotments sometimes far from their relatives, eroding traditional kinship practices across many reservations.
  • It destroyed communal control of lands, making it easier for private and government interests to gain access to the vast coal, oil, natural gas, agricultural, and grazing resources on Native American Reservations.
  • The GAA  never established an adequate system for how lands would be transfered from generatio
    n to generation. Since the practice of creating a Last Will and Testament before death was not common and in some cases was outright offensive to the traditional inheritance practices of some Native American cultures, these lands passed from one generation to the next without clear divisions of who owned what. Today, lands have become so fractionated that it is common to have several hundred or even thousands of landowners on one piece land. This has created a severe obstacle today for individuals and families wanting to utilize their lands as they need to get permission from the other land owners on decisions related to the land. With limited resources to deal with this situation, the only option for most families is to lease their undivided fractionated lands out – often times to non-natives.
  • Forced Fee Patenting, introduced with the 1906 Burke Act, amended the GAA to give the secretary of the interior the power to issue Indian Allottees determined to be “competent,” fee patents making their lands subject to taxation and sale. In other words, the government privatized indigenous lands. It as widely understood by government officials that lands, privatized under the Burke Act, would soon be liquidated. In 1922 the Government superintendent of the Pine Ride Reservation noted: “Careful observation of the results on the Pine Ridge reservation show that less than five percent of the Indians who receive patents retain their lands.” According to the Indian Land Tenure Foundation, between 1997 and 1934, nearly 27,000,000 acres of land was lost as a result of privatization.
  • Indian Allottees determined to be “incompetent, ” under the Burke Act, were not allowed to live on or utilize their allotment, instead it was leased out by the Federal Government to oil, timber, mineral, and grazing interests. In many cases, Allottees did not even receive the income from the leases. This practice was so widespread that a 1915 Department of the Interior, Annual Report of the Pine Ridge Agency, nearly 56% of its residents were deemed “incompetent.” The longterm affect of this practice was how it physically and psychologically alienated Indian Allottees from their lands. For example many families today own land but have never lived on it, used it, or oftentimes, even know where it is located.
The various economic, social, and cultural disruptions created by the these acts over the last century is an underlying cause of poverty on many Native American Reservations today, negatively impacting housing construction, economic development, residency patterns, family and community cohesion, ecological health, cultural self-determination, and political sovereignty.
While we understand that this case, just as De Soto’s Alaskan case, is different in many ways than the case of indigenous peoples from the Peruvian Amazon, we belief that privatizing indigenous lands is dangerous. Indigenous people from Pine Ridge reservation are still struggling from political decisions that led essentially to the de-collectivization of their lands. It is also interesting to note that, in the case of Pine Ridge, as other Native American Reservations in the US, indigenous peoples have NOT been able to keep those resources (mineral, oil, etc.) that the government or private interests find profitable.

For Peru’s Indians, Lawsuit Against Big Oil Reflects a New Era

By Kelly Hearn
Special to The Washington Post Thursday, January 31, 2008;


NUEVO JERUSALEM, Peru — Tomás Maynas Carijano strolled through his tiny jungle farm, pinching leaves, shaking his head. The rain forest spread lushly in all directions — covering what oil maps call Block 1AB.

“Like the trunk of that papaya, the cassava and bananas are also dying,” said the spiritual leader of this remote Achuar Indian settlement in Peru‘s northern Amazon region. “Before Oxy came, the fruits and the plants grew well.”
Oxy is Occidental Petroleum, the California-based company that pulled a fortune from this rain forest from 1972 to 2000. It is also the company that Maynas and other Achuar leaders now blame for wreaking environmental havoc — and leaving many of the people here ill. Last spring, U.S. lawyers representing Maynas and 24 other indigenous Peruvians sued Occidental in a Los Angeles court, alleging that, among other offenses, the firm violated industry standards and Peruvian law by dumping toxic wastewater directly into rivers and streams.
The company denies liability in the case.
For indigenous groups, the Occidental lawsuit is emblematic of a new era. The Amazon region was once even more isolated than it is today, its people largely cut off from environmental defenders in Washington and other world capitals who might have protected their interests. Now, Indians have gained access to tools that level the playing field — from multinational lawsuits to mapping technologies such as Google Earth.
Oil companies that once traded money and development for Indians’ blessings are increasingly finding outsiders getting involved. “History has shown that oil companies will cut corners if someone isn’t watching,” said Gregor MacLennan of Shinai, an internationally funded civic group in Peru. “We try to get to local communities first to help them make informed decisions about oil companies and the changes they bring.”
Lured by global energy prices, Peru is placing record bets on Amazon energy lodes: Last year the country’s concessions agency, PeruPetro, signed a record 24 hydrocarbon contracts with international oil companies. EarthRights International, a nonprofit group that is helping represent the plaintiffs in the Achuar case, says half of Peru’s biologically diverse Amazon region has been added to oil maps in the last three years.
Occidental pumped 26 percent of Peru’s historic oil production from Block 1AB before selling the declining field to Argentina‘s Pluspetrol in 2000. “We are aware of no credible data of negative community health impacts resulting from Occidental’s operations in Peru,” Richard Kline, a company spokesman, said in an e-mail statement.
Kline said that Occidental has not had operations in Block 1AB in nearly a decade and that Pluspetrol has assumed responsibility for it. Occidental made “extensive efforts” to work with community groups and has a “long-standing commitment and policy to protect the environment and the health and safety of people,” he said.
The California-based group Amazon Watch has joined the suit as a plaintiff, and the case is now inching through U.S. courts. In a federal hearing scheduled for Feb. 11, company lawyers will ask a judge to send the case to Peru, where Indians say corruption and a case backlog will hurt their chance of winning.
Learning Their Rights
The primitive trumpet — a hollowed cow’s horn — brayed over this gritty river community at sundown. Residents of Nuevo Jerusalem, the Achuar settlement on the Macusari River, trudged up a path, toting shotguns and fishing nets. Some stepped down from palm huts, walking to the meeting in twos and threes. Soon, Lily La Torre was on stage.
“I’ve come to give you news of the Oxy suit,” said La Torre, a Peruvian lawyer and activist working with Maynas’s legal team. Barefoot women in dirty skirts circled the room, serving bowls of homemade cassava beer.

Indigenous Movement’s Protest of Oil Development

The Peruvian government, recently, has been involved in an intense campaign to exploit oil and gas resources in the Peruvian Amazon: as of 2007, more than 70% of the Amazon region has been marked for oil and gas development. This number has increased drastically, given that in 2004 only 13% of the area was in the hands of oil and gas companies. Given the ugly history of oil development in the region, indigenous people who make their home in the Amazon are extremely worried about the potential environmental, social, economic, and cultural consequences of such a massive influx of oil and gas exploitation. Moreover, the imposition of oil and gas development in the region without indigenous consent represents a violation of indigenous rights (national and international) to determine their own development path (e.g. International Labour Organization 169). 

Given the power of the Peruvian state and transnational oil companies to control and manipulate the process of oil development, AIDESEP (the Interethnic Development Association for the Peruvian Jungle) and FECONAU (Federation of Native Communities from the Ucayali Region of the Amazon) have asked for our assistance in making indigenous voices (protest) heard at the highest levels. On February 8th, 2008, in Houston, TX, Perupetro is sponsoring an event that is primarily designed to convince potential investors of the benefits of oil development in Peru. Contrary to Peruvian State’s pro-development discourse, leaders of AIDESEP and FECONAU want to manifest their opposition to oil and gas development in Peru and to firmly reject the entrance of petroleum companies on their communal territories. This decision was made on the 22nd of January in a FECONAU conference, with the presence of 120 indigenous leaders, where three (3) delegates were elected unanimously to send a message of protest at the Houston meeting.

What they are asking for:

One plane ticket from Lima to Houston.
Logistical support for food and hotel for a contingency of 4 people.
Transportation (car rental).

(You can make a donation with your credit card by clicking PayPal on the upper right corner of this blog or by phone 970-491-5754.)

All donations are 100% tax-deductible and any amount is greatly appreciated!

As you know, Village Earth has been in alliance with Shipibo leaders and indigenous organizations in the Amazon working for their rights to self-determination for over three years now. They are relying on us and our network of supporters to let their voice be heard. This is a seminal moment in protecting both the Amazon rainforest and indigenous livelihoods – WE HAVE TO ACT FAST and WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT!

US Congress Passes Free Trade Agreement with Peru

Reposted from: Upside Down World

Written by Jennifer Gunderman and April Howard
Wednesday, 14 November 2007
ImageA new trade deal with Peru that passed in the US Congress last week boasts non-binding concessions in terms of labor and environmental concessions, and promises more of the same damages to both countries.

President Bush seems to have scored another gain in his trade agenda as Congress approved a free trade agreement with Peru by a comfortable 285 to 132 margin. Still basking in his victory from the recent Costa Rica-CAFTA ratification vote in October, Bush and his supporters hope these recent victories will lead to the approval of pending free trade agreements involving Colombia and Panama.

Concessions That Don’t Concede

This apparent bipartisan free trade approval with Peru became a reality only after Democrats won concessions from the Bush administration regarding labor and environmental issues. These concessions stem from concerns over several NAFTA impact studies that criticized the trade agreement’s lack of protection against trade abuses as well as poor procedures and lack of program funding that could threaten the environment.

A statement released by Democratic Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee called “for the inclusion of labor standards [such as the right to go on strike] and environmental protections including access to medicines and logging controls that will create a landmark in free trade agreements.” However, actual environmental concessions in the deal only “require the US and Peru to enforce their domestic environmental laws and conform to international environmental standards.” According to Joshua Holland of Alternet, Tom Donohue, head of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said that his members were “encouraged” by assurances that the deal’s labor provisions “cannot be read to require compliance.”

Despite these concessions, according to Amazon Watch, the agreement “grants new rights for oil companies to drill in the Peruvian Amazon, potentially causing massive deforestation and environmental destruction; [which] will therefore lead to more road construction, literally paving the way for colonists, illegal loggers and poachers, fails to explicitly prohibit trade in endangered species, instead merely re-asserting the U.S.’s existing right to reject timber imports from species listed in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES); Includes in Chapter 10, investor rights provisions that would allow foreign companies to skirt Peruvian law and regulatory authorities [, which] . . . goes further than controversial equivalent clauses in NAFTA and CAFTA; [and] Will benefit U.S. corporations such as Hunt Oil, ConocoPhillips, Occidental Petroleum and Newmont Mining over Peruvian and U.S. citizens.” US copyright and trademark protection in agreement also means Peru’s poor could be hit as the price of medicine rises by 30%, according to the BBC.

Losses to Workers in Both Countries

Opponents to the Peru free trade agreement, most notably strong labor unions both in Peru and the United states, caution that this trade agreement does little to either benefit or protect workers in either country.

Jiron Cusco, president of the General Workers Confederation of Peru (CGTP) takes his opposition a step further stating that the Peru FTA will benefit only a small population of Peru’s wealthiest citizens and that the treaty would “seriously affect Peru’s economy.”

While textiles and agro-export industries, which already export to the US, could benefit, the real benefits are for US businesses. In an interview with Alternet
e=”font-family:georgia,times new roman,times,serif;font-size:100%;”>, research director of Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, Todd Tucker, named dozens of multinational businesses and corporations including Citigroup, Occidental Petroleum and Wal-Mart, who have “put their full might into getting the Peru deal passed, including showering millions in congressional campaign donations since January alone . . . [Hoping for] privatized social security systems for Citi, rainforest-destroying oil extraction for Occidental, and a push to Wal-Mart’s efforts to buy out Peru’s retail sector, just as they did in Central America just days after Bush signed [the Central American Free Trade Agreement].” Holland also names General Mills and the Grocery Manufacturers Association PAC as interested parties because they grow vegetables in Peru and plans to move processing facilities to the country as well. Financial service firms including Citibank also stand to gain from the deal’s provisions to allow the company to “sue the Peruvian government for damages if progressive activists succeed in reversing a disastrous social security privatization scheme” that has had disastrous consequences for millions of Peruvian retirees.

Duties will be immediately eliminated “on 80% of industrial and consumer product exports to Peru, and more than two-thirds of farm exports.” Many worry that the disastrous effects of NAFTA in Mexico will be repeated in Peru as subsidized US agricultural produce, including wheat, maize and cotton, will rob Peruvian farmers if business and drive up food prices within the country. In fact, Peru’s government reports that it has put aside about $77 million in order to compensate farmers who suffer losses during the first five years of the agreement.

“We will have an absolutely unjust competition between Peruvian agricultural products and North American agricultural products, because the US subsidizes its agricultural products and we don’t”, says Javier Diez Canseco, head of the Peruvian Socialist Party and a former presidential candidate. “So there is a very strong difference between the conditions of production and the subsidies that the US farmers receive and those that Peru has to deal with.” Nearly half of Peru’s population still lives on less than $2 a day.

According to the Third World Network, though Peru’s economy could increase by $417 million increase in the first year of the agreement, “these gains will be directed almost exclusively at the [mainly coastal] urban sector, which could benefit by $575 million.” Lima-based public policy research institute, GRADE, predicts that the poorest of the rural sector, Quechua and Aymara subsistence farmers in the rural highlands, and in the Amazon interior will suffer losses to the tune of $158 million. TWN says that “The findings of this report echo impact analyses conducted in Colombia and Ecuador, who are negotiating similar FTAs with the US.”

On the other end of the spectrum, a study by the Economic Policy Institute’s Josh Bivens found that US neoliberal trade policies have depressed the wages of 70 percent of the U.S. population. In a statement released by the Teamsters Union, president Jim Hoffa cites the “slim margin” of victory in the Congressional approval of the Peru FTA as evidence of its lack of protection for American workers affected by “off shoring of American jobs.” Hoffa is calling on Congress to focus on trade policies rather than ratification of free trade agreements.

Democratic Support and Dissent

One of the most surprising parts of the agreement was the Democratic Party support it received: 109 Democrats voted yes and 116 voted no. Even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi commented on the paradoxical nature of her for the agreement. “Frankly, I have largely been on the other side of it than I am tonight,” she said. During the debate, many Democrats accused Pelosi of betraying the party’s base.

Journalist Steven R. Weisman of The New York Times Media Group points to two factors that led to democratic support. First, the concessions won in terms of “protections for workers and for the environment in Peru, and by extension in trading-partner countries in future trade deals.” And second, “sizable campaign contributions from the sectors that are benefiting the most from the global economy. These include financial services firms, computer chip makers and other high-tech manufacturers, the entertainment industry and farmers dependent on selling to markets overseas.”

Presidential candidates, “who receive support from unions but also from export-oriented industries,” demonstrate the conflict generated by the issue. O
pposed to the deal were John Edwards, Dennis Kucinich, Christopher Dodd and Joe Biden. Sen. Hillary Clinton, surrounded by pro-free trade Clinton administration officials, sent mixed messages, including asking for a review of NAFTA negotiated by President Bill Clinton, but then decided to
support the agreement. According to Alternet, Sen. Barack Obama, “said that he’d vote for the Peru deal because “it contained the labor and environmental standards sought by groups like the AFL-CIO,” but the AFL-CIO released a statement saying that, because of “several issues of concern to working families,” the AFL-CIO “is not in a position to support the Peru FTA.”

However, Lori Wallach, director of Global Trade Watch at the advocacy group Public Citizen said that “Despite all the pressure, most Democrats, most committee chairmen and three-fourths of the freshmen in the House said no to Speaker Pelosi. The Democrats must now abandon the Bush trade agenda and work on an agenda they can agree on.”

NO Free Trade Agreement/Tratado de Libre Comercio US (EEUU)-Peru

Take Action: Tell Congress that expanding NAFTA and CAFTA to Peru is a bad idea

Reposted from Upside Down World

Watch this video (Mira este video): No al TLC – No to the FTA with Peru

Portland Central America Solidarity Committee ( activist and Radio Libre Negro Primero volunteer Megan Hise interviewed Peruvian labor and campesino leaders for a short documentary, looking at the damage the Peru FTA will cause on both sides of the border. Two months ago, four million Peruvian campesinos went on strike against the agreement, which will allow highly-subsidized and artificially cheap U.S. agricultural products to be dumped on the Peruvian market . Tens of thousands, if not millions, of campesinos will be driven off their land if they are undercut by US agribusiness.

Reposted from Trade Matters at the American Friends Service Committee….
The Bush administration has begun moving the Peru Free Trade Agreement (FTA) through Congress. A final vote in the House of Representatives is expected in October, with the Senate to follow shortly thereafter.

Please call your Representatives and Senators immediately to urge them to vote against the Peru Free Trade Agreement.

Peru is engaged in a delicate reconciliation process after decades of armed conflict and the country remains burdened by high levels of poverty. In a desperate attempt to gain support for the U.S.-Peru FTA, the U.S. Trade Representative is claiming the trade pact will lead to increased democratic stability in the region and curbed cultivation of coca and trafficking of cocaine. Based on the results of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), we think the opposite is true.

While the Peru FTA includes some significant improvements regarding labor and environmental protections and access to medicines, it still contains many of the NAFTA/CAFTA problems. These fixes do not address the structural and systemic flaws the current framework generates, including growing inequities, the destruction of livelihoods, increasing deterioration in the health and well-being of people living in poverty and environmental devastation both in the U.S. and abroad. The US-Peru FTA will not bring stability or development to the region!
Tell Congress that expanding the NAFTA and CAFTA model to Peru is a bad idea.

Call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121. Ask to be connected to your House or Senate member (give your state and zip code if you’re not sure of your Representative’s name)
When you are connected, ask to speak with the staffer working on trade issues. Tell him or her that you oppose expanding NAFTA and CAFTA to Peru.
Ask for your representative’s position on the US-Peru FTA in writing to be sent to you by email or regular mail.
Use a local or personal story of damage from bad trade deals to illustrate your case or use the call script provided below.
Stop the US-Peru FTA vote call script:
Hello, my name is _________, and I am a constituent. May I speak with the staffer that deals with trade issues?
I am calling to find out Representative/Senator ______________ position on the upcoming U.S.-Peru Free Trade Agreement. Can you tell me how he/she plans to vote?
It is very important that Representative/Senator _____________ come out publicly to oppose this FTA. Despite changes to the Peru FTA it will still (select one or two of the below talking points):
THREATEN SMALL FARMERS. The agreement will favor only a small sector of Peruvian farmers who export to the US. By lowering Peru’s tariffs on agricultural products, the vast majority of farmers would be vulnerable to cheap subsidized imports from the U.S. This would wipe out local farmers—as happened to the 1.3 million who have been displaced in Mexico since NAFTA passed 12 years ago.
THREATEN ACCESS TO LIFE-SAVING MEDICINES. While the amended text of the Peru FTA removes the most egregious, CAFTA-based, provisions limiting the access to affordable medicines, it still includes NAFTA provisions that undermine the right to affordable medicines for poorer countries.
THREATEN WORKERS AND ENVIRONMENT. Changes to the labor and environment provisions are insufficient. The Peru FTA allows discretion for FTA dispute settlement panels to interpret and apply the terms of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work differently than the Declaration has been interpreted and applied by the ILO itself. Enforcement of the new changes will be dependent on Peruvian President Garcia who has a consistent record of undermining domestic labor and environmental law enforcement.
THREATEN WOMEN, CHILDREN, AND THE POOR. Provisions promoting the privatization and deregulation of essential services such as water, healthcare and education are written into this trade agreement. As these services become less accessible, women and the poor would have to make up for increases in prices of these services.
THREATEN U.S. AND PERUVIAN SOVEREIGNTY. The Peru FTA contains a NAFTA-style foreign investor chapter that allows corporations to bring actions against governments that pass environmental and public health laws that might reduce corporate profits.
THREATEN INDIGENOUS PEOPLES by opening the way for large pharmaceutical and agribusiness corporations to patent traditional knowledge, seeds, and life forms. This opens the door to bio-piracy of the Andean-Amazon region and threatens the ecological, medicinal and cultural heritage of indigenous peoples.
Would you be willing to send me an email with Representative ________________ position on the trade pact to ___________________ [email address].

KRFC Radio Program – Shipibo, The River of Life

To listen to the recent radio program on KRFC FM, independent community-based radio in Fort Collins, Colorado, click on the file link below:


Limber Gomez, a Shipibo leader, was invited to do an interview on KRFC. He speaks about the hopes and challenges facing the Shipibo people, as well as about the community-based indigenous radio project they hope to do. For more information about this radio project, check out the below blog posting titled: Shipibo Radio Project

Below: Limber Gomez on his recent visit to Fort Collins.

Shipibo Leader Visits Fort Collins

Above: Limber with Village Earth founders Ed and Mimi Shinn as he receives his certificate of completion for the Participatory Practices for Sustainable Development (PPSD) course.

Limber Gomez, a Shipibo leader and activist, recently visited Fort Collins, Colorado to attend the two-week PPSD training course at Colorado State University. This course was an extraordinary experience for Limber and all participants to share their experiences working with communities on all continents. This course helped to reaffirm Limber in the value of Shipibo culture as a guide for future development efforts. He realized that many people around the world are facing the same challenges and has decided to arrange for a delegation of Shipibo leaders to connect with parallel indigenous movements throughout Latin America because of the strength in unity across diverse cultures.

Limber also participated in a number of speaking events to both the Fort Collins community and also at Colorado State University. He also spoke on the radio and made connections with the KRFC-FM radio community to support the Shipibo’s radio project initiative (see posting below).

Limber returned home to the Ucayali to energize the newly formed Organization for the Defense and Development of the Indigenous Communities of the Peruvian Amazon (ODDPIAP) by offering workshops to ODDPIAP officials, community leaders, and university students in how to best engage communities in their struggles for self-determination.

We would like to thank Limber for his courage to join Village Earth here in the US and to all the donors that made his fruitful visit possible!

Shipibo Radio Project

As one of the eight parts of the Shipibo peoples’ plans for their self-determination and the “development” of their region, radio as a means of communication was of utmost importance. The Village Earth-Shipibo team has been in contact with Project Tupa, based out of Free Radio Berkeley. Project Tupa has a lot of experience in setting up easy to build and maintain low power transmitters for indigenous peoples throughout the Americas. Using locally-available materials, Project Tupa offers a 3-day workshop which teaches the communities how to maintain and repair the equipment themselves.

During Limber Gomez’, a Shipibo leader, recent visit to the Fort Collins community, we had the good fortune to meet with the Fort Collins’ community’s local community-based radio station, KRFC 88.9 FM. The KRFC team is ready and excited to help out with this interesting project in any way they can.

The Shipibo people see that being in control of their own media is an important step in their struggle for self-determination. Right now, corporate media rules in the cities and extort exorbitant prices from indigenous peoples who want to make radio announcements or have their own radio programs, such as the long-running Indigenous Voice program that had to be cancelled due to lack of funding.This 3-day workshop, materials included, will leave the Shipibo people with 4 of their very own hand-built radio transmitters to be placed strategically throughout the region.

Village Earth, Project Tupa, KRFC, and the Shipibo people can undertake this project with a mere $6000. Unfortunately, radio projects are difficult to fund. However, radio can be an important tool in cultural revival (through the diffusion of indigenous language and music programs), for defense of indigenous and territorial rights (indigenous leaders can communicate issues of concerns with greater ease in this remote region), and for educational programs.

If you are interested in supporting this team and the Shipibo’s efforts at determining their own rights and methods of communication, then you can make a 100% tax-deductible contribution through Village Earth. You can donate online using Pay Pal (clearly indicate your support for the Shipibo radio project), by using your credit card over the phone 970-491-5754, or by check sent to:
Village Earth
P.O. Box 797
Fort Collins, CO 80522

For more information, please contact the project coordinator: [email protected]

86% of all Deforestation in Shipibo Heartland

Although the below reposted article suggests there is a decline in overall logging in the Peruvian Amazon it highlights a major threat to the Shipibo people – the fact that


86 percent of all forest damage was concentrated in only two regions: the area around the Ucayali logging centre of Pucallpa, and along the associated road network.”

That means that 86% of the
127,700 hectares lost per year of the Peruvian Amazon forest cover is in the Shipibo’s and their indigenous neighbors’ territories. Although maybe not technically within the legally allotted territories of the indigenous people according to the government – these remote forest lands serve as indigenous hunting grounds or other areas of important resource or spiritual significance. With global warming on much of the world’s minds right now, protecting these forests is going to play a more critical role in the future of the planet. Right now these forests act as huge carbon sinks, and when cut down, are one of the number one emitters of greenhouse gases because of all the carbon and such that is released from these old forests as they are destroyed.

Below: This aerial photo from Google Earth shows the immense deforestation surrounding Pucallpa and its road network, some legally-titled Shipibo communities are seen in yellow.

Article Reposted from: InterPress Service News

ENVIRONMENT: Satellites Show Logging Decline in Peru’s Amazon Region
By Stephen Leahy

TORONTO, Aug 18 (Tierramérica) – Rainforest conservation policies are reducing the rate of deforestation in the Peruvian Amazon, but roads are unquestionably the drivers of change, new satellite data reveal.

Although Brazil’s Amazon forests draw the most international attention, Peru’s 661,000 square kilometres of rainforests are recognised as a unique and important ecosystem.

However, the impacts of human activities throughout the region were poorly understood, until a study published Aug. 10 in the journal Science.

“Peru’s forest reserves and conservation areas appear to be working well,” said Greg Asner, director of the Carnegie Airborne Observatory, at Stanford University in California.

Deforestation and other disturbances of forested areas — selective logging, oil exploration and mining — increased about 127,700 hectares per year on average from 1999 to 2005, with just two percent occurring in protected areas, according to the study by Asner and colleagues.

By contrast, Brazil’s four million-square-kilometre Amazon forest region loses 2.0 million to 2.4 million hectares annually, with about 10 percent occurring in protected areas.

Better land use policies and the remoteness of the forest in Peru are likely reasons why there has been much less forest loss there, Asner told Tierramérica. Peru has also long had a national forest policy that granted logging concessions, whereas Brazil has only recently implemented a similar system, he said.

Using a satellite-based forest disturbance detection system originally designed and used to measure forest loss in Brazil, along with on-the-ground fieldwork, the study found that 86 percent of all forest damage was concentrated in only two regions: the area around the Ucayali logging centre of Pucallpa, and along the associated road network.

The satellite data reveals a great deal of logging “leakage” outside the concession areas into nearby forests, he said. Although it is difficult to know precisely what is occurring, Asner suspects that once an area has been opened up to logging, concession-holders or others simply move into nearby areas.

The study clearly shows that deforestation follows the construction of the Inter-Oceanic Highway, which ultimately is directly connected with 23 percent of the total damage. “Roads are absolutely connected to deforestation,” Asner said.

Loggers are chasing “red gold”, the valuable wood of mahogany trees, which are still found in commercial quantities in the Peruvian Amazon, says David Hill, a campaigner for Survival International, a Britain-based non-governmental organisation supporting tribal peoples worldwide.

“‘Tree laundering’ is going on, with mahogany supposedly coming from legal concessions being brought in from outside,” Hill told Tierramérica. It is very difficult to monitor or trace the origin of logs in such remote regions, he said.

“Legal logging concessions are facilitating illegal extraction,” he explained.

The activist is dubious of Asner’s findings that indigenous territories contained only 11 percent of the “forest disturbances”.

“There is illegal logging in four of the five indigenous reserves set aside for uncontacted peoples” in Peru, he said.

These indigenous tribes by choice have not been in regular contact with the outside world. The common cold or flu is often fatal to them because they have not had previous exposure to the d
iseases and have not developed the appropriate immune defences.

Illegal loggers brought such diseases to the Nahua tribe in the 1980s and more than half of them died, Hill said.

While logging is the most urgent threat to these isolated indigenous communities, oil and gas exploration has also become a significant problem. Last month the Inter-Ethnic Association for Peruvian Jungle Development, AIDESEP, applied to the courts for a ban on oil exploration and drilling in parts of the Peruvian Amazon inhabited by uncontacted tribes.

Enforceable land rights would go a long way to helping indigenous people in Peru, Hill says.

But keeping extractive industries like loggers out is an enormous challenge for any country. Brazil has struggled with this, largely unsuccessfully, for decades.

“Logging is a multi-billion dollar industry in Brazil — 80 percent of which is illegal, according to the government,” says Bill Laurance, a tropical forest ecologist with the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institution, in Balboa, Panama.

Deforestation rates have slowed in the past couple of years due to lower prices for soy and beef, and because of a crackdown on illegal logging, Laurance told Tierramérica.

That crackdown came after the 2005 murder of U.S.-born nun Dorothy Stang, who had been helping local people oppose illegal logging in the northern Brazilian state of Pará.

More than 100 people were arrested in a multi-million-dollar illegal logging network, including 40 people working for IBAMA, Brazil’s federal environmental law enforcement agency, he said.

“Even Canada and the U.S. have trouble enforcing their logging rules in remote areas,” he pointed out.

Slowing deforestation in the Amazon is an enormous challenge. The rise of so-called “carbon markets” offers some real hopes, if a country like Brazil can obtain credits for “avoided deforestation” and the corresponding reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, according to Laurance.

Brazil is the fourth largest emitter of greenhouse gases resulting from deforestation. The World Bank recently announced a 250-million-dollar pilot fund to pay tropical countries like Brazil for preserving their forests.

Avoided deforestation is an inexpensive and simple way to slow climate change and brings additional benefits, including preservation of ecosystem services and biodiversity.

Accurate and ongoing measurements of standing forests and deforestation are absolutely crucial to making such as compensation system work, and Asner’s group has the technology, says Laurance.

Previous satellite data and analysis by the group revealed higher rates of deforestation in Brazil than previous estimates. And although Peru’s forest regions are frequently obscured by clouds, the new technology involving use of supercomputers can work around that problem.

By this time next year, thanks to a training plan and a compressed version of the study team’s program, government officials, academics and non-governmental groups in Peru will able to update the forest change analysis on personal computers, he said.

Asner believes the program can be adapted to any tropical country and he plans to present it at the next stage of the negotiations of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change, to take place in December in Bali, Indonesia.

“What the Peru study shows is that we have a definitive tool for detecting deforestation and change,” says Asner.

(*Originally published by Latin American newspapers that are part of the Tierramérica network. Tierramérica is a specialised news service produced by IPS with the backing of the United Nations Development Programme and the United Nations Environment Programme.) (END/2007)

Nuevo Sitio Web de la Nacion Shipiba

La presente pagina es dedicada a los pueblos amozonicos del ucayali, se construyo despues del I Tribunal de Jefes de comunidades indigenas del Ucayali, la cual, fue uno de nuestros acuerdos, con la finalidad de que los pueblos se comunique y den a conocer sus puntos de vistas,problematicas y sus posibles soluciones.
Sitio web de la Nacion Shipiba
Gracias por entrar a nuestra pagina
ah y disculpenos hay algunos errores de articulacion, dentro de poco mejoraremos.

Community-based Geographic Tech Workshops

Land rights is a constantly recurring theme in our work with indigenous peoples throughout the world. And the Shipibo people have asked for our assistance in their struggles over territory. In June, the Village Earth Peru Project Coordinator held a community-based geographic technology workshop in the lower Ucayali. Leaders from two communities in the Calleria district joined forces to protect their land. Both communities were given legal titles to their land years ago, however, in the dynamic Amazonian environment their lands have changed dramatically since the initial titling. Half of what was once part of the community is now overtaken by the mighty Ucayali River with more and more of the community being washed away daily into the river as it changes course. Originally, indigenous communities changed location as the river moved, but now communities are forced to remain within government-imposed boundaries. 

Forcing indigenous peoples to be subjugated within externally-imposed borders does not work in the dynamic environment of the Amazon. However, protecting indigenous land through titling and demarcation is a necessary evil right now in order to protect communities’ rights to land and resources. Much of the strategy of the Peruvian government has been to conquer and divide indigenous territories. However, many indigenous leaders and activists are calling for a new way to think about indigenous territory – and to remind the world they have sustainably managed their forests for thousands of years. “The demand for territorial clarity and non-overlapping negotiations on land issues is predicated on an acceptance of the EuroAmerican way of viewing land, demarking and dividing the land and environment and relationships between people on the basis of European-derived notions of property, ownership, and jurisdiction.”* 

Therefore, these communities are looking to expand their legally allotted territories, in order to maintain a sufficient land base that can provide for their self-sustainability. Workshop participants learned how to mark and find way points, use the compass, and many other useful features of Geographic Positioning System (GPS) in order to accurately locate boundaries. Each community was given a GPS unit and they are currently marking the points to which they wish to expand their territories and then will send them to Village Earth, where using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology, we can help them to create maps that they can use in their negotiations with the government.


Both communities expressed worry about the current land grab in the Amazon by non-indigenous colonists. Roads are slowly creeping into their remote district bringing more and more settlers taking forest resources from the indigenous inhabitants.


These communities still have an expensive and arduous process ahead of them in order to expand their allotted territories. And their are many more communities interested in Village Earth mapping and geographic technology workshops. If you would like to make a contribution to these important efforts, please contact: [email protected]

Thank you to the community that provided lunch to the workshop participants!

*Alfred, Taiaiake. 2005. Wasase: Indigenous Pathways of Action and Freedom. Broadview Press, Canada.

Geographic Technology as a Tool for Indigenous Empowerment

There is only one month left before the monumental Indigenous Tribunal in the Ucayali region of the Amazon!

As part of the Tribunal, Village Earth was asked to facilitate community mapping workshops for Shipibo Communities but we need your support to get the necessary resources to indigenous leaders.

We’ve bundled these resources into a low-cost and easy to use “Mapping Kit” that we would like to give to community representatives participating in our free mapping workshop.

You can help by purchasing one of these kits for a Shipibo community today!

Support Village Earth and the Indigenous Peoples of the Amazon with your sponsorship of a Mapping Kit!
(Contributions of any amount are welcome, greatly appreciated, and 100% tax-deductible.)

Each Mapping Kit will include a hand-held GPS unit and Map Book of their territory to be given to community leaders. Village Earth will then provide the instruction in how to use this technology to their advantage.

Mapping Kits will enable communities to:

  • Identify their boundaries to determine if outside interests are illegally taking their resources or colonizing their lands.
  • Identify illegal logging using the satellite imagery available in the map books.
  • Map existing resources to establish a baseline for future comparisons of resource depletion/restoration
  • Better manage and plan for the use of their limited resources.

Village Earth has been using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology to create maps of indigenous territory combined with satellite images of the region. Some Shipibo leaders have already used these maps to dispute government and colonist land claims and build their case in support of indigenous land rights in the region.

Your contribution not only provides the mapping resources, but will help further the greater collective vision for the alternative development of the region based on indigenous knowledge and values. By supporting the Shipibo’s efforts at mobilizing the region and these community-based mapping endeavors, together we can:

  • Organize indigenous communities in the Ucayali region to increase their economic and political clout to determine their own futures
  • Teach GPS technology to indigenous leaders so they no longer have to rely on expensive and biased government GPS technicians
  • Support Shipibo efforts to reclaim and restore indigenous land stewardship practices.


Update from the Field

Thank you to Nerio Reategui, our Shipibo project partner and friend, for sending these photos. He works as a translator between Shipibo, Ashaninka, and Spanish languages for an indigenous organization in the Ucayali region and spends a lot of time traveling to different communities some so remote it takes 3 weeks to reach by boat. Nerio has been involved in past Village Earth workshops and project activities.

Above: They are planting beds of Camu camu, a medicinal plant whose fruit they sell in regional, national and international markets. These photos were taken in Tahuania, a district in the Ucayali department of Peru.

Protecting Indigenous Shipibo Territory Through Community-Based Mapping

During the past 40 years, close to 20 percent of the Amazon rain forest has been cut down – more than in all the previous 450 years since European colonization began.”*

Yet, the Shipibo have sustainably managed their forests for many generations. However, an aggressive program of Amazonian “development” has been promoted during the past 50 years, which has fragmented Shipibo territory by the incursion of non-indigenous colonists, government “development” projects, and foreign corporations exploiting the land by logging, hydrocarbon extraction, and industrial-scale agriculture. However, protecting indigenous land rights has come to the forefront in their struggles for self-determination as the Peruvian government continues to open up the farthest reaches of the Amazon basin for oil exploration and other extractive enterprises.
Below: This map, originally created by the Instituto del Bien Comun and given to a Village Earth representative by AIDESEP, shows indigenous communities, protected areas, and oil concessions in Peru.
Peru Shipibo Community Mapping

Protection and defense of indigenous territory was decided as the most important focus area out of their plan for self-determination of the region’s indigenous inhabitants from the last Village Earth-Shipibo regional workshop.

To aid the Shipibo in the protection and defense of their territory, Village Earth created map books of the region using GIS layers of the native titled communities (as provided by the Sistema de Informacion sobre Comunidades Nativas de la Amazonia Peruana [SICNA] of the Instituto del Bien Comun [IBC]) and colonist settlements overlaid onto satellite images. Satellite images are an interesting mapping medium because they show vegetation cover, as well as land degradation based on the light reflected from different vegetation or soil types.
Below: A Village Earth program coordinator conducting a mapping workshop in one Shipibo community in Masisea district.
Community Mapping Workshop
As well, Village Earth held a Geographic Positioning System (GPS) workshop and gave hand held GPS units to Shipibo leaders so they can continue to use the technology to protect their lands.

Peru Community Mapping Workshop
After the Village Earth mapping workshops, two Shipibo communities have begun the process of increasing their legally-titled land in order to protect more forest from outside exploitation, as well as remove illegally settled non-indigenous colonists using their new map books and GPS points. Shipibo jefes (chiefs) even asked a Village Earth representative to attend meetings with them at the local AIDESEP and Defensoria del Pueblo offices in Pucallpa – local NGOs that work to protect and defend indigenous rights in Peru. We, accompanied by reps from Defensoria del Pueblo, then attended meetings with the local Ministry of Agriculture in Pucallpa, the branch of government that deals with indigenous land titling.

As well, these Village Earth initiatives have increased intercommunity cooperation and participants in the workshops now have a greater consciousness of their geography.

Empowering indigenous peoples by providing the training and materials to use geographic technology, in turn, allows for self-determination of their way of life – since their land and resources are inextricably linked with their culture, economy, and physical health.
Issues of land and territory will be a hot topic throughout the Indigenous Tribunal being held in June of this year. This will be a seminal event in mobilizing and organizing their communities to better protect their land and resources. The outcome of this Indigenous Tribunal will be to form a grassroots, indigenous organization in the region to direct their own path to self-determination which includes forming an indigenous working group on environmental conservation.
Thousands of hectares of highly biodiverse forest and the accompanying watershed have the potential to be protected the indigenous inhabitants taking a stand against the market forces of globalization.
*Wallace, Scott. “Last of the Amazon” in National Geographic. January 2007.

Oil Companies to Begin Drilling in Masisea

Above: This map shows the different exploration and exploitation blocks leased out by the Peruvian government to the oil companies. 

Below: A view of the proposed drilling area as seen from satellite images.

The Shipibo expressed their grave concern about the exploitation of Block 114 which is home to dozens of Shipibo and other indigenous communities. Not only are the communities living within the confines of Block 114 worried, but also those downstream because of the expected water contamination from the oil sites.

PanAndean Resources has purchased the rights to Block 114 and is expected to begin drilling in 2008. 

Pan Andean Resources is headquartered in Dublin, Ireland. Here is an excerpt from their website: 

Block 114 located in Central Peru: 1.85 million acres;
At least 10 anticline structures identified in Block:
Estimated oil resources in block: 400 millions Barrels; API of oil: 30 – 35°;
Easy river access to refineries. Exploration commenced Q3 2006.
First phase involves reprocessing and interpretation of 500 kilometres of seismic followed by 150 kilometres of new seismic and one well.
Technical and environmental work in progress on Rio Caco structure.
Drilling up to 3 wells on Rio Caco to be completed by April 2008.
Block 114, located in the Ucayali Sub Andean Basin, north of the world-class Camisea gas-condensate field, with proven and probable reserves in the range of 15 TCF of natural gas and 600 million barrels of condensate. Block 114 is located to the south of important oil and gas fields such as Maquia, Aguas Calientes and Aguaytia. The immediate focus will be on confirmation and production drilling of the Rio Caco Structure. Potential recoverable reserves are in the range of 90 million barrels. Production would reach 30,000 barrels per day in 2012. The Work Plan will be to carry out the required Environmental Impact and Technical Evaluation work, in order to be drilling the Rio Caco confirmation well beginning in August-September 2007. Should that well be successful, three additional wells would be drilled as soon as practical and production would be flowing beginning in March-April 2008.”

There is no mention of the thousands of indigenous people that inhabit the region, nor the possible consequences to the health of the world’s largest remaining tropical forest, nor to the world’s largest watershed.
According to Peruvian Law: “The Organic Law for Hydrocarbons, Law N° 26221, was enacted on August 19, 1993, coming into effect on November 18, 1993. Such norm was modified by Law No. 26734 as of December 30 1996, No. 26817 as of June 23, 1997, and Law No. 27343 as of September 01, 2000, No. 27377 as of December 06, and Law No. 27391 as of December 29, 2000. This norm, which is intended to foster the investments in fuel resource exploration and exploitation activities, created PERUPETRO S.A. as a Private Law State Company of the Energy and Mining Sector. 

Considering such law, the Government promotes the development of Fuel Resource activities based on the free competition and access to the economic activity, guaranteeing the juridical stability of the contracts according to provisions set forth in article 62° of the Constitution of Peru.Likewise, it guarantees the Contractors the stability of the taxation and foreign exchange regimes in force to the date of the signing of the contract.

Law No. 26221 sets that Fuel Resources exploration and exploitation activities will be carried out under the form of License Contracts as well as Service Agreements or other contract modalities authorized by the Ministry of Energy and Mining, and governed by the Private Law, and which after being approved and signed, may only be modified according to a written agreement signed by both parties. Likewise, any modification must be approved by Supreme Decree.” (Source: 

However, also according to Article 89 of the Peruvian Constitution:
“Rural and Native Communities are legally recognized and enjoy legal status. They are autonomous in terms of their organization, communal working, use and free disposal of their land, as well as economically and administratively within the framework established by law. Ownership of their land is imprescriptible except in the case of abandonment described in the preceding article. The government respects the cultural identity of the Rural and Native Communities.” 

Although indigenous communities are given the legal titles to their land, their is little protection afforded to these communities under Peruvian law against foreign companies contaminating their watersheds and destroying their forests. 

According to the International Labour Organization’s Convention (No. 169) concerning Indigenous and Tribal peoples in Independent Countries:

Article 15

1. The rights of the peoples concerned to the natural resources pertaining to their lands shall be specially safeguarded. These rights include the right of these peoples to participate in the use, management and conservation of these resources.

2. In cases in which the State retains the ownership of mineral or sub-surface resources or rights to other resources pertaining to lands, governments shall establish or maintain procedures through which they shall consult these peoples, with a view to ascertaining whether and to what degree their interests would be prejudiced, before undertaking or permitting any programmes for the exploration or exploitation of such resources pertaining to their lands. The peoples concerned shall wherever possible participate in the benefits of such activities, and shall receive fair compensation for any damages which they may sustain as a result of such activities.

For more information about the destruction caused to the environment and indigenous communities by oil companies, check out Amazon Watch and Oilwatch. There are hundreds of resources available on the internet documenting the destruction to the world’s indigenous and other marginalized communities and their environments around the world by oil companies.


No matter how environmentally-friendly these oil companies claim to be, it is impossible to extract oil in such a fragile environment without damaging the ecological integrity of the region. 

The Shipibo depend upon their rivers and forests for their subsistence and livelihoods. Their economy, culture, and health depend upon
their access to healthy ecosystems.Village Earth is working with communities to help them protect and defend their territories and environments.

What can you do to help?

  • You can donate to Village Earth’s efforts to help protect indigenous land in the Peruvian Amazon.
  • Lessen your dependence on oil and oil-based products. In the global market economy, only when demand for oil drops will drilling cease. Therefore, the future lies in YOUR hands.
  • Write to these companies and let them know that you disapprove of drilling for oil on or near indigenous lands in the ecologically-fragile Amazon region:Dr. John Teeling
    Pan Andean Resources
    162, Clontarf Road
    Dublin 3

    Below: The indigenous people of Masisea are learning to use GPS through a Village Earth initiative, so that they can monitor their lands and borders.

Village Earth/ EWB Partnership

Above: The people of Santa Rosa de Dinamarca and Village Earth representative, Kristina Pearson, dancing in the Umisha Festival. Kristina met with the community in February 2007 to begin project preparations.

The Engineers Without Borders (EWB) University of Colorado chapter made the original visit to the Ucayali Region with Village Earth in 2006. They participated in the January 2006 regional workshop and documentary film production. They also offered their services to the Shipibo. 

One Shipibo community, Santa Rosa de Dinamarca in Masisea District, took the initiative and submitted a project application for a clean water project in their community. The Fort Collins Professional Chapter of EWB agreed to take on this project. We are very excited to work together and it is great that we are both based in Fort Collins allowing us to meet periodically to discuss project planning.

Santa Rosa de Dinamarca like many Shipibo communities is suffering from lack of clean drinking water. Wells have been installed, however, half are not currently functioning. The present situation reflects the past disconnect between non-governmental organizations (NGOs), funding agencies, and Shipibo communities. The Shipibo complained to us that NGOs came and installed wells in their communities using a design from somewhere else. Therefore, the wells do not function properly in their tropical rainforest environment. This shows the importance of building off local, indigenous knowledge and how local environmental conditions are an essential consideration before taking on any project. As well, local people were not trained in how to install or maintain these wells themselves, so when they break down they remain dormant and unrepaired.

Before the wells, Shipibo communities obtained their water from the rivers and lakes surrounding their communities. However with the increase in pollution from upstream, these water sources became highly contaminated. Population centers upstream dump their waste, there is contamination from oil exploitation, and increased sedimentation from logging have all polluted the watershed making the water unsafe for consumption. However, since their wells are not very deep (10 meters at the most) it is most likely that the water in the wells is actually connected to the rest of the contaminated watershed. Therefore, EWB is going to look into the possibility of digging deeper to reach the pure, clean water aquifers.

Below: The community’s watershed

Parasites and other gastrointestinal illnesses are a problem especially for children in this community because of the lack of clean water. Clean water is an essential part of creating sustainable, healthy human communities. Only when people have the basic necessities of life covered (clean water, food security, clothing, shelter) can they begin to take their own self-determination seriously and work for a better future.


Below: Young Shipibo girl from Santa Rosa de Dinamarca

Village Earth and Engineers Without Borders are excited about our partnership and will be visiting the region for an assessment trip immediately following the Indigenous Tribunal event in late June. Village Earth will continue to empower communities to direct their own “development” processes. EWB will be assessing the local situation and doing topographic surveys in order to better understand the local environment, as well as assess community wants and needs. 

There is a lot of potential for future collaborations between Village Earth, EWB, and the Shipibo people to be working with all communities in need in such projects as sanitation, construction, fishfarming, and survey work to help out with land issues.

If you are interested in supporting this project, contributions can be made through Village Earth or you can attend EWB’s first fundraising event on April 27. For more information, check out the EWB Fort Collins Professional Chapter’s project website.


Above: The Umisha Festival in Santa Rosa de Dinamarca.
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