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Protecting the Pàramos

WACC photo

January 24, 2020

By Jeannethe Lara

The upper Andes of Colombia, between the tree line and the permanent snow line, is home to half of the world’s moorlands known as the Páramos, an ecosystem that includes 70% of the country’s water sources. Yet despite international and national protection regulations, the Páramos are under threat due to extractive mining activities, as well as regional political and economic instabilities and weak Colombian legislation.

PWRDF is joining WACC (the World Association for Christian Communication) and local organization Grupo Comunicarte in a three-year partnership to promote people-led environmental protection among Indigenous, peasant and Afro-descendant communities across six affected regions. The program will cost on average $44,000 per year, and will fund weekly 60-minute radio broadcasts. The initiative will establish and train a network of 10 environmental journalists (at least half women) on environmental protection and care practices. The project will also strengthen citizen journalism and support community radio networks working on environmental issues.

Colombia has one of the most developed community radio sectors serving rural areas, with an estimated 450 stations operating. Traditional radio offers a powerful platform where ordinary people own and produce
the content; it allows isolated and marginalized communities to voice their concerns and to seek solutions for the protection of the environment in Colombia. Each community radio station has an average audience of 375,000 people. The potential reach is 3,750,000 people.

In communities where moorland ecosystems are particularly vulnerable, the journalists
 will train five additional local people to help to disseminate information and encourage greater cooperation between the affected communities. The ultimate goal is to generate, foster and deepen a citizen culture of knowledge and care of the Páramos among locals, visitors and tourists. The broadcasts will promote the Páramos as a vital source of water, worth protecting in the fight against climate change.

WACC is a global organization based in Toronto and a pioneer of the communication rights movement since 1968. It is one of the few global organizations working to advance the communication rights of marginalized communities worldwide. As such, it has collaborated 
with thousands of grassroots communities, while advocating for systemic changes in legislation and policy at the national, regional, and international levels. Like PWRDF, it is a member of the ACT Alliance.

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