26 September 2008

A bet on Sustainable Development for the Alto Solimões region in the Amazon

It was signed on the 12th in Tabatinga, the agreement of financing between the World Bank and the State Government of Amazonas with sights on the development of the region of Alto Solimões. The loan comes with the technical endorsement and supervision of the bank, which certainly has greater value than the amount itself, US$ 24 million. The project prioritizes three main segments: sanitation, sustainable development, and health.

We search for innovative solutions of high-impact that can be applied on all three segments. In sanitation, the supply of clean water will be the priority, the main subject in the nine contemplated cities; with a project-model aimed towards the sanitary infrastructure and sewer. In health, the focus is mainly management and not new investments. In the area of sustainable development, the root is the search for an economic model in four fronts which can balance a sustainable use of the forest, versus the sad but efficient deforestation alternative.

 The region of Alto Solimões is especially sensitive; because in this vast territory there are controversial issues such as questions involving aboriginal policy, national defense, environmental preservation and anti-trafficking. Also it is possible to identify the increasing, but still low level of social development, and the multiplicity of efforts directed towards the development, since the introduction of forest handling and fisheries.

Tabatinga is one of the few economically vibrant cities of the State that has the capacity to, given a development time and an adequate model of sustainable growth, replicate it through private initiative. The region has a strong potential for local consumption and exportation to neighboring countries, not to mention the easiness of navigation during the whole year to Manaus and the Atlantic.

 In the subject of sustainable development in particular, it is sought to reach high productivity through the best existing technologies and size growth in four priority segments:

·         Forest handling: not yet has great productivity been reached by the sector, to a large extent due to existing technology directed at the cultivations of eucalyptus or pine, and not to the vast Amazonian biodiversity;

·         Non-lumber forest products: from oils and essences to fibers and chestnut, increasing efforts exist for production that must be supplemented by robust financing and assistance with modern technical support;

·         Handling of lakes: although not all of the region is abundant in lakes (they are especially prominent in Jutaí, from river Solimões and below), the handling of fishing and animal resources can be extended;

·         Fisheries: in Benjamin Constant many efforts have already been made in fisheries, including a ration plant that should be reactivated by the private initiative. The region is advantageous to the establishment of fisheries due to the fact that it is relatively plain and easily accessible, through the recently inaugurated road connecting Northern Atalaia with Benjamin Constant.

 

The project has its roots in the principal of stimulation of experimentation by private and communitarian initiative, instead of seeking to increase the state structure. There will be 20 chosen private projects in conjunction with the World Bank receiving financing of up to R$500.000. These resources are much like investments made in research and development, because they will serve to ensure that private entities find (at low risk and using the best existing technology) the most suitable solutions for the region.

The Alto Solimões, during the arrival of the first Europeans, was a region of great prosperity that used the available natural resources with sustainability. It is a rich region in black earth, which indicates its use by the Indians for centuries on agriculture. When Orellana passed through Tabatinga, he described the great wealth of the local aboriginal kingdoms, especially with regards to the the enormous fisheries of turtles and manatees from which the proteins of the local people came, a beautiful example of ancient sustainable handling.

With the European presence, much of this sustainability was destroyed with the establishment of the ideal that the forest was impeding development. We hope to make another step in the search for the harmony that will bring the balance to the equation that unfortunately still sways towards the value of the fallen forest.

 

 

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