Supporting associations

Returning ancestral lands to the Kogi and Wiwa peoples

Helping the Kogi and Wiwa people to recover their ancestral in order to restore ecosystems

Returning ancestral lands to the Kogi and Wiwa peoples

Project leader

Duration of the partnership
2018 -2020


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The project and its aims

Colombia’s Sierra Nevada mountain range is one of the most irreplaceable biodiversity hot spots in the world when it comes to conserving protected spaces, with only 17% of the original forests remaining. This region is also inhabited by four indigenous peoples, including the Kogi, who are also known as the Kagaba, and the Wiwas. They have lost substantial chunks of their ancestral land through colonisation, agriculture based on large land holdings or through the growing of cocoa or the drug trade, all of which have also caused deforestation in the region.

The violence of this process has weakened indigenous societies, threatening their culture and even their existence.

The Tchendukua project aims to help the Kogi and Wiwa peoples to recover their ancestral lands legally and save their cultures while preserving the environment. Mother Earth lies at the heart of indigenous peoples’ cultures in the Sierra. When they are resettled on their ancestral land, the supported families can live in a way that upholds their traditions based on balance and harmony with nature. We have already seen that thanks to their life style and the supported process of natural regeneration, forest coverage is restored and biodiversity gradually regenerated across land that was mostly depleted and polluted when regained. 

The Maisons du Monde Foundation backs this approach by funding the purchase of at least 170 hectares in the Mendihuaca river valley, land that will be incorporated into a reserve for native peoples. The purpose is to create in this valley a corridor belonging to the communities and to help them, especially the young people in their midst, to take ownership of the process for recovering their lands.

Lastly, the Foundation contributes to the construction of a reception space for encouraging South/North dialogue and knowledge sharing between indigenous and modern societies.

The beneficiaries

The direct beneficiaries are the community members: the Kogi community, with one thousand people supported, and the Wiwa community, in which more than seven hundred people are supported.

The external visitors trained in the Bonda space, of whom there are about one hundred fifty, are also significant beneficiaries of the actions of the Tchendukua project.

Lastly, some fifteen young people from local non-indigenous communities are also involved in creating the reception and knowledge sharing space and thus help to perpetuate the ancestral knowledge of the Kogi.

What makes the project special

The Tchendukua approach is based on respect for the cultural specificities, rhythm and properties of the supported populations and on the rejection of any form of intrusion.

Accordingly, it strives to be flexible and in tune with the reality on the ground and in constant touch with local authorities.

The men and women here are happy and grateful to Tchendukua. They are aware of the work that has been done over the years to recover land.

For us, getting land back also means allowing nature to live. Now we can eat the game from this land and no longer need to buy chicken, pigs or cows. The valley must be continued.

Beneficiaries from the Kogi community

Project leader TCHENDUKUA

Established in France in October 1997, Tchendukua brings together people who are keen to preserve a way of life based on respect for nature and others and the search for balance.

Tchendukua is an association that aims to support indigenous communities so that they can take charge of their development by recovering their ancestral land and restore natural ecosystems and also to encourage sharing and meetings between indigenous cultures and cultures from elsewhere.