The Chaco region occupies more than 50% of the surface area of Paraguay, and is one of the most-important economic regions in the country, due to vast cattle ranches and dairy production. However, Peace Corps has had minimal presence over the past decade in the area.
In 2019, WWF approached the Environmental Conservation sector to request collaboration in the central Chaco, to supplement their Alianza para el Desarrollo Sostenible project with environmental education activities. The environmental team made various trips to Loma Plata and Filadelfia and came away impressed by local counterparts’ programs and initiatives.
Working with the Safety & Security, Medical and senior staff teams, a plan was created to ease Peace Corps back into the Chaco, and four environmental PCVs applied to extend their service into a third year and collaborate with the Municipalities of Filadelfia and Loma Plata, and the Cooperación Vecinal of the Cooperativa Chortitzer, a social development initiative focused on supporting latino communities in the central Chaco.
In December 2019, two PCVs were assigned to Filadelfia to support solid waste management initiatives with the municipality, and to create environmental education materials that could be utilized with local indigenous communities. Two others were assigned to Loma Plata, where they focused on similar themes.
Due to the pandemic, their time was cut short, but all four PCVs and their counterparts exceeded even our wildest expectations. They created eco-clubs, organized community waste clean-ups, and spoke on the importance of maintaining native forest to combat climate change. In total, in a little less than three months, more than 500 community members participated in environmental education events and activities, demonstrating the local population’s commitment to conserving their natural surroundings.
As we move forward in 2022 and into 2023, we maintain communication with local counterparts and are looking forward to continuing with this collaboration with the return of PCVs to Paraguay.
- Peace Corps Paraguay Environment Team