Working in remote areas of Colombia, Aso Manos Negra’s work to support community land rights can be challenging. Most of the communities they support have limited to no electrical power supply, cell phone and internet coverage. Furthermore, they often confront low levels of computer literacy among community members.
Aso is mostly formed by women community leaders from the communities and they are working remotely with limited contact with each other with little resources. And nevertheless they have been managing to assist communities to apply for numerous land titularization processes, and in the way they have collected a vast amount of information related with the land and communities.
Due to the lack of computer literacy and the many times inexistent infrastructures (i.e. power supply), they currently have the majority of the information in paper format, with all the risks and inefficiencies which this implies. There is an obvious strong need to digitize all this information and this is where Cadasta platform is playing role. They are using Cadasta projects to geolocalize community boundaries, document land titularization process, survey community women associations, and characterize women economic activities that are environmentally sustainable.
Black communities in forest areas in Colombia has traditionally suffered of a total abuse from mining and agriculture large companies, and armed groups in the territory, which fueled the increase of monoculture plantations, illegal mining and massive deforestations, with the population being trapped in these activities sometimes as the only way to survive. The mission of Aso is to protect the environment while supporting communities, which goes through providing alternative sources of income.
In these sense, Aso is complementing the community surveying of women economic activities mentioned for the Surveying project, with the mapping of community resources that are used by community members -mostly women- to generate income through sustainable activities linked to tourism, handicraft art, agriculture, etc. This project is in the early stage and Aso is pushing communities to use ODK mobile app to collect this information -even when offline- and submit to the Cadasta platform. This will ease coordination and information sharing between the Aso umbrella organization and the communities.