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Support Programme for Indigenous Communities in the Context of Climate Change, Environmental Degradation, and Deforestation

Primary GCM Objectives

GCM Guiding Principles*

*All practices are to uphold the ten guiding principles of the GCM. This practice particularly exemplifies these listed principles.

Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)


2021 - 2023

Type of practice


Geographic scope



Sub Regions:


Repatriación, Caaguazú, Republic of Paraguay, Paso Yobaí, Guairá, Republic of Paraguay, Aba´i, Caazapá


The project originated from the Instituto Paraguayo del Indígena's recognition of indigenous communities migrating to urban areas in search of improved access to services like health and education, along with seeking new sources of income as a means of adaptation. It is noteworthy that, upon arriving in the city, many of these individuals ended up facing homelessness. The project was developed with the aim of reconnecting or re-rooting these individuals with their original territories. This way, it sought to contribute to the prevention of forced migration of indigenous communities in Paraguay due to climate change, environmental degradation, and deforestation, following consultation protocols and free, prior, and informed consent. The project targeted populations where communities which, according to the census data of Indigenous Peoples' communities (2012), had been exposed to constant emergencies (floods, droughts, among others). These communities also faced high levels of poverty and inequality, with limited access to basic services, livelihoods, and raw materials for their crafts, forcing them to move. The indigenous communities participating in the project were Pindo'i (Repatriación, Caaguazú), Ka'atymi (Repatriación, Caaguazú), Ykua Porā (Abai, Caazapá), and Santa Teresita (Paso Yobái, Guairá). These communities were proposed by INDI considering vulnerability, threats, and risks to climate change criteria, as well as indicators of internal human mobility. This experience aligns with Law 2311/89, through which any plan, project, or activity affecting indigenous peoples must be carried out through consultation and prior, free, and informed consent. Over the 24 months of the project, INDI, as the main partner, implemented a comprehensive support pilot programme in indigenous communities. This involved providing tools/supplies, technical assistance, and training in two productive lines: yerba mate cultivation and small poultry farming, based on participatory diagnosis results, tools produced, and strengthened capacities in migration, environment, and climate change. Community initiatives emerged from the participatory diagnosis process, designed with a gender perspective and conducted with indigenous communities on migration, environment, and climate change, with impacts on socio-economic, employment, education, health, and nutrition. Additionally, collaboration with INDI led to the creation of two institutional tools: a gender-focused manual for conducting social assessments with indigenous communities affected by climate change with a perspective on human mobility, and another gender-focused tool for addressing indigenous communities in the context of mobility with recommendations for programme implementation in accordance with the impact on rights to land and territory, life, and traditional livelihoods. These were collaboratively built and shared using the train-the-trainer methodology to make them replicable in other contexts.


Main Implementing Organization(s)

Instituto Paraguayo del Indígena - INDI

Detailed Information

IOM Paraguay, Instituto Paraguayo del Indígena (INDI)

Partner/Donor Organizations

Government of Paraguay - Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock
Municipalities of Paraguay - Paso Yobai Municipality
Comisión Nacional de Telecomunicaciones / National Telecommunications Commission - CONATEL
Unidad Técnica del Gabinete Social / Technical Unit of the Social Cabinet - UTGS
Ministerio de la Niñez y la Adolescencia / Ministry of Children and Adolescents - MINNA
Ministerio del Ambiente y Desarrollo Sostenible/ Ministry of the Environment and Sustainable Development - MADES
Dirección Nacional de Salud de los Pueblos Indígenas / National Health Directorate of Indigenous Peoples - DINASAPI-MSPBS
Instituto Forestal Nacional/ National Forestry Institute - INFONA
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights - OHCHR
United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization - FAO
United Nations Environment Programme - UN Environment
UN Women
United Nations Population Fund - UNFPA
United Nations Children's Fund - UNICEF

Benefit and Impact

The effectiveness of the project was assessed in exchange spaces with the communities, who expressed that, by having this development opportunity, they would be motivated to stay in their communities, work the land, and thus establish even deeper roots in their territories. This way, it is verified that the pressure regarding factors that generate mobility would have decreased.

Additionally, the project created an information collection tool for the diagnosis that could be used in other instances. The tool consists of 45 questions, distributed in seven main components: a) Identification and consent, 2) Sociodemographic characteristics, 3) Health, 4) Access to basic services, 5) Human mobility, 6) Climatic and environmental phenomena and adaptation mechanisms, 7) Remittances. Furthermore, the social assessment and community approach manuals for the prevention of forced migration, influenced by climate change, environmental degradation, and deforestation, have a general focus that could be applicable to different community contexts. These inputs are crucial for the implementation of the pilot programme, whose methodology is innovative in having generated diagnostic tools, training, and guidelines for on-site work that could be used in other instances. Additionally, the Paraguayan Government validated the tools through official resolutions, thus becoming official inputs for the institution's work.

Finally, it is important to highlight the articulation strategies at different levels to achieve sustainable actions adopted by the initiative. At the local level, alliances were formed with municipalities and governorates in the geographical areas involved in the project. In the case of municipalities, a declaration of municipal interest was achieved in one locality, and progress was made with two others, meaning that municipalities will be able to allocate resources for monitoring the actions promoted in the project. In addition, connections were made with producers' cooperatives, confessional organizations, and public officials who provide technical assistance in the productive sector for the monitoring and evaluation of the pilot programme. Moreover, sustainability is also connected with the capacity-building process, such as the case of INDI, who participated in training sessions with the train-the-trainer methodology, allowing for the appropriation of the topic, as well as the replication of initiatives and increased impact.

Key Lessons

-One of the most important lessons learned was the need to adjust the methodology initially adopted to the reality of the communities. Instead of sending all United Nations agencies to the communities simultaneously, a more careful approach was chosen. This was done with the aim of not "invading the space." In this way, the initial methodology, which did not include this cautious approach, was adjusted.

-The project began with a consultant's visit, followed by several meetings with the communities to carry out an assessment. Only after this initial process, the interaction of agencies with the communities was facilitated. This adjustment considered the multicultural component and was crucial to respecting the space and privacy of the involved communities.

-The visual presentation of the process through infographics was essential to establish schedules and steps to follow in a clear and accessible manner.

-When collaborating with government officials, discontent in communities regarding access to services or programmes may arise. Therefore, it was important to develop articulation, mediation, and intercultural dialogue strategies that are key to addressing these situations with respect and openness.

-A challenge was the adoption of a cross-cutting gender, disability, interagency, and interinstitutional approach in all activities, which in some cases may not be evident or demonstrated in its real extent due to time constraints, resources, among other factors. This challenge persists, and it is important to keep it in mind when implementing similar projects.

-The leading participation of children and adolescents in the driven actions, although not initially planned as a cross-cutting focus, was recognized as key in meeting spaces. It is important to consider this for future actions.

-It is crucial to collaborate with local institutions for the sustainability of the actions taken. While this challenge was addressed through conversations and the documentation of actions, there is still a need to form alliances with the private sector to ensure markets.

-Technical assistance needs to be provided to communities in productive matters in the medium and long term. To address this challenge, it is important for INDI to continue maintaining a connection with the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock to continue this support.

Recommendations(if the practice is to be replicated)

-It is important to involve communities in the identification and development of climate change adaptation initiatives, as it can foster greater participation and commitment.

-Maintaining open and consistent communication with all involved parties, adhering to agreed-upon steps, is crucial. This is essential for managing expectations and building trust.

-It is important to seek permission, consent, and prior, free, and informed consultation (also for visual and audiovisual recordings) and to comply with agreements (field visits, agenda, etc.), notifying of any changes and providing alternatives. Additionally, validating and presenting the work agenda with the communities is crucial.

-The implementation of KOBO for data collection, along with training public officials in its use, not only facilitates offline information gathering but also allows the replication of the experience in other territories through tablet donations.

-Identifying and recognizing community leadership (in Paraguay, INDI provides official recognition of indigenous community leadership) is essential.

-It is advisable to map on-site actors for complementarity and to avoid overlapping actions.

-Clear identification of the on-site team (names, roles, institutions, etc.) and providing contact information for queries or feedback on a permanent basis (outside of field visits) is recommended.

-Focusing on communication in the native or local language of the participants is advisable, as it contributes to greater inclusion and understanding.

-It is important to demonstrate active listening for intercultural dialogue. In addition, considering the customs of the communities is crucial. For example, in the opening, the first words are usually given by the community representative. Furthermore, communication should be transparent, avoiding false expectations.


The innovation component is defined by the process through which the project was implemented. Indeed, it was developed based on processes of participatory co-construction at different levels, with active participation from central and local institutions, as well as the indigenous communities leading the process. In addition, the possibility for each community to define the operational guideline for the pilot programme allowed for greater adherence and commitment to the process. Moreover, it is one of the first experiences of IOM in adaptation in Paraguay and the region, establishing the basis for further progress in addressing the issue.

Date submitted:

27 January 2024

Disclaimer: The content of this practice reflects the views of the implementers and does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations, the United Nations Network on Migration, and its members.



*References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of United Nations Security Council resolution 1244 (1999).