Connecting Indigenous Communities in Latin America

Working towards local capacity building is important to create and sustain local community networks. This ensures that all communities are digitally included.

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Theresa Haans
23 December 2022 Clock 2 min

In November 2022, contributed to REDES’ bootcamp. The bootcamp was held in Colombia, open to people all over Latin America. It was the last step of a longer training program, which aimed to teach people about network installation and community telecommunication and broadcasting. Specifically, there was a significant emphasis on the importance of indigenous communities’ ability to broadcast their own radio programs, as well as being able to sustain network connection in their local area. 

In this blog, you’ll learn more about the project, and what the aim and outcomes of the Bootcamp was.

What was the original aim of the project?

The REDES bootcamp ended part of the ‘Program for the Training of Technical Promoters in Telecommunications and Broadcasting in Indigenous Communities’. It was developed by ITU and organizations that work on indigenous and community communication in Latin America. The project as a whole aimed to strengthen communication processes between communities, as well as increase the opportunities for self-managed telecommunication projects for indigenous people in Latin America. 

Photo credit: REDES AC

Through capacity building, maintaining and installing community networks will be possible by the local people. The bootcamp specifically aimed to give the participants practical exercises to test their theoretical knowledge in real life scenarios. The ultimate goal was to create a network of community technicians in the region who can accompany each other. 

The participants gained knowledge that will be useful to strengthen the communication within the community, especially telecommunication. Workshops were redesigned and knowledge of pedagogical techniques was increased in order to build the technical capacities of community members. Representatives from 13 different countries were at the bootcamp. They participated in different activities, such as social and technical workshops and recreational activities.

What were the outcomes of the project?

A total of 83 people participated in the bootcamp activities, and therefore benefited directly from this project. However, such a project has the potential to benefit many more, considering the potential of sharing the knowledge further. 

Photo credit: REDES AC

The inhabitants of the local village where the bootcamp took place were also direct beneficiaries. The infrastructure of the network was improved through the installation and donation of a stand-alone photovoltaic system. People who already have experience in community media and rural telecommunications projects also benefited, as they not only participated as speakers but also learned and shared about topics that interest them beyond their previous knowledge.

In an indirect form, each person who participated in Bootcamp 2022 already had experience in the development of communication and/or telecommunications projects in indigenous communities. REDES AC calls them technical leaders in their regions or countries. Some of them belong directly to indigenous or rural communities and others are part of organizations that accompany communities in the creation of such projects. Because of that, a lot of people all over Latin America will be connected when the graduates implement their new knowledge.