Well-being in Developing Countries
Edited by Jonathan Isham, Thomas Kelly and Sunder Ramaswamy
Chapter 11: Building Networks of Social Capital for Grassroots Development among Indigenous Communities in Bolivia and Mexico
Kevin Healy The Central Regional de Cooperativas Agropecuaria y Industrial Regional del Alto Beni, El Ceibo and the Unión de Museos comunitarios de Oaxaca are community-based federations that have crafted innovative and long-lasting programmes for tackling complex social, economic and cultural problems for the micro-regions in which they work. They have achieved social empowerment by exercising greater control over their local economic, social and cultural environments and brought tangible and valued benefits to their communities. This chapter explores the history of these two organizations, illustrating how social capital can be utilized by rural indigenous organizations in strategies of grassroots development. This chapter begins with brief histories of the two organizations, highlighting their main achievements and strategies for change, and then examines in each case the nature of their social capital and the strategies deployed to utilize it for grassroots development. There follows a theoretical discussion about investment in indigenous cultural resources, contrasting the way in which these two organizations have utilized social capital in order to draw some lessons about the viability of such investments in other parts of the developing world. EL CEIBO’S GRASSROOTS DEVELOPMENT FEATURES El Ceibo is a Bolivian peasant federation of 37 community-based service cooperatives located in the country’s northern region of Alto Beni. Since its founding in l979, the federation has become one of the country’s most widely respected small farmer organizations. The widespread participation by the group’s members has expanded their industry, improved environmental stewardship of the tropical forest environment and promoted social...
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