Game of Drones: Indigenous communities of the Peruvian Amazon use drones to defend their lands.
Loggers and the palm oil industry continue to decimate the jungle and those who live in it, use technology to defend themselves from abuses. In the case of indigenous communities in northern Peru , between Yurimaguas and Lagunas, they resorted to drones when they received works of a new road that crosses its lands. The new roads through the Amazon mean that logging and mining companies are preparing to enter the region to harvest their natural resources and plant large plantations of a single crop, this also ruins the region's biodiversity. The Amazon in Peru has already lost more than 1 million hectares of forests in the last 15 years and indigenous communities are seeing their waters becoming increasingly polluted and their lands dry up. The problem was aggravated because the road was not authorized by the Ministry of Transport and Communications of Peru as it is the office that must approve such projects and supervise a community consultation process. None of that happened and because the construction was outlawed, the indigenous communities needed irrefutable evidence to present to the government.
The evidence in the form of images was captured by drones, the Interethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Jungle partnered with Oxfam to deploy a drone for the indigenous communities. This allowed community members to track changes in their lands and provide accurate location data to know where these changes occur. In the case of the highway, which was being built by a palm oil company, the indigenous communities were able to show images to government agencies and to stop the construction; Waldir Eulogio Azaña said it is a reaffirmation of the government in front of the companies. The drone program says Oxfam program manager Neal McCarthy, is still in the pilot phase, there is a single drone and it is deployed when one of the 109 indigenous communities detects an invasive development. At Oxfam, McCarthy leads the Information Technology for Development Technology initiative. "It finances interesting programs enabled with technology," he says. "It's not technology-driven: we're really trying to finance ideas that use technology to augment an existing process." Oxfam has been working for several years to support indigenous territorial rights. He also equipped community leaders with smartphones. It allows them to take GPS-tagged photographs of changes and infractions.
Although the drone program is still very limited, the information showed the existence of an illegal road to Azaña would like each one of the 109 federations supervised by AIDESEP to be equipped with its own drone. It will be a way to change the trends of deforestation and industry-driven developments in the country, and allow indigenous communities to use technology to reinforce their claims on their lands.