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Executive summary

Background and Objectives

The Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation, signed on October 16, 1979 by the Republic of Peru and the Federative Republic of Brazil, in dealing with the Amazon Region establishes that..."both parties assign the highest priority to fulfilling the commitments that join them together in the region," and further indicates their interest in coordinating bilateral actions within the framework of the Treaty for Amazonian Cooperation. Subsequently, on July 3, 1987, the Presidents of Peru and Brazil subscribed to the Declaration of Rio Branco, in which they agreed to intensify their efforts to step up the process of subregional collaboration. The Puerto Maldonado Program Action, in following the guidelines of the Declaration of Rio Branco, sets down the bases for the program of action to be carried out.

In endorsing the mandate of both Presidents, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Peru and Brazil requested the Organization of American States (OAS) to provide assistance and support for this project. The document and the terms of reference were then prepared for the "Program for Development of the Peruvian-Brazilian Border Communities," which include a calendar of the activities planned for the first phase, concluded with the present Comprehensive Regional Diagnosis.

In accordance with the objectives, policies, and strategies contained in the development plans for the Amazon region in both countries, the general objectives for the development of the border communities are as follows: a) improvement of the living standards of the population; b) determination of the appropriate use of the areas natural resources, with a view toward sustainable development; c) binational integration of the area into the remainder of the territory of the two countries, through the efficient use of their natural resources and the fostering of effective occupation of the border areas.

Site and General Characteristics

The total area included in the Program for Development of the Peruvian-Brazilian Border Communities, Assis Brasil/Iñapari, is close to 10, 200 km2, of which 4, 377 km2 (43%) are in Brazil and 5, 823 km2 (57%) are in Peru. The Brazilian portion includes the entire area of the Municipio de Assis Brasil, located in the southeastern portion of the State of Acre, between the left bank of the Acre River and the right bank of the Yaco River. The Peruvian area is situated in the Department of Madre de Dios, Tahuamanu Province, and includes the districts of Iñapari, Iberia and Tahuamanu. It comprises 74% of the Department's area and has an estimated 1990 population of 4, 900. Data from 1988 show a population of approximately 4, 900 for the Municipio de Assis Brasil.

Geomorphologically speaking, the area of the project is quite uniform and is similar in both countries, the result of the interaction of the tectonic, climatic and erosion factors that have configured the land surface. The climate of the region is tropical, hot and excessively rainy in season. Rainfall is of the mountainous type and the dry season is short.

The annual average temperature of the area ranges between 22°C and 26°C, with very little variation over the year. Generally speaking, the area of the study is characterized by abundant rainfall during most of the year. Average precipitation in the area is approximately 1, 800 mm per year.

The hydrographic network of the project area consists of three main rivers, the Tahuamanu, the Acre and the Yaco, which run from west to east and receive the flows of a large number of small streams. Their flows are substantial, particularly during the rainy season, which, with certain restrictions, permits navigation.

The area's vegetation consists of dense, perennially green forests typical of the tropics. The soil in the area is also quite uniform and has been managed by large groups of people.

The area's agricultural possibilities have been classified in accordance with the capacity for land use. In the area under study, 66.9% has been reserved for conservation and preservation zones, and 33.1% has been designated as an area for development under the Program for Development of the Peruvian-Brazilian Border Communities.

According to a study of the fisheries resources carried out in the State of Acre, various species reproduce in the numerous wetlands, swamps, and oxbow lakes and lagoons that serve as natural breeding places. Fisheries development in the area covered by the program is in the incipient stage, since updated limnological studies have not yet been carried out on the waters of the rivers, streams, rivulets and lakes.

In the area of the study, both in the Province of Tahuamanu in Peru and the Municipio de Assis Brasil in Brazil, communications are in a rudimentary stage. There are highways under construction and trails passable only in the dry season; river transport is difficult because of natural obstacles to navigation and the fluctuations in the river flows; and the high cost of irregular air transportation makes it inaccessible to the inhabitants of the region.

The problems deriving from the lack of health services for the population are assuming serious proportions, since they are closely related to the prevailing social and economic situation.

The housing problem, both on the Peruvian and Brazilian sides of the border, are both quantitative, reflected in the physical shortage of dwellings; and qualitative, since they are related to patterns of quality, infrastructure and also to the environmental and cultural adaptability of housing as it relates to the interaction of man with his environment.

Briefly stated, the problems in the education sector in the program area may be summed up as deriving from the lack of specialized human resources, school desertion, irregularity in the supply of school lunches, the lack of infrastructure in school buildings that are in poor condition and lacking in furniture and equipment, the lack of incentives to keep teachers in the area, the difficulties of access to rural areas, and the inadequacy of the school calendar to local seasonal cycles.

Production Activities

It has been determined that somewhat more than 11, 000 ha have been altered or affected by man for farming, livestock-raising or for other uses. Agricultural production in the area of the project (both Peruvian and Brazilian) is extremely low and characterized by very low productivity. Farming activity is directed mainly toward subsistence crops for which rudimentary production techniques are used. Small family farms are the most common production unit, almost always situated in the midst of rubber plantations.

Production of rubber from native rubber trees is the most important extractive activity. The area also possesses large timber reserves, many essences of commercial value and a substantial number of extractive products, in addition to chestnuts and latex. Although precise statistical information is not available, the importance of the commercial sector in the regional economy is evident on the Brazilian as well as on the Peruvian side. Border commerce plays a strategic role in supplying those who live in the area. Fishing in Assis Brasil is of the subsistence kind. Although there are no records at all of this production, it is known that it is not significant when compared with the production of Rio Branco, Cruzeiro do Sul, Tarauacá and Sena Madureira, where there are colonies of fishermen. On the Peruvian side, particularly with regard to the Acre and Tahuamanu rivers-the latter navigable all year-there is a great variety of fish. In addition, the region has natural attractions, such a native rubber plantations, virgin forests and a variety of fauna and flora, which suggests the possibility of promoting ecological tourism, another alternative for development of the area.

Indigenous Population and Environment

The establishment of rubber plantations brought about the extermination of a large number of ethnic groups inhabiting the region, such as the Cotiana, the Camari, the Inhamoré, the Capixi and the Iñapari. Basic differences may be observed in the lifestyles of the ethnic groups living in the border region that are translated into a feeling of belonging to a distinct and unique culture that defines their ethnic identity. The decline of the rubber plantations in the economy of the Acre area has affected the native economy. For the Matxineri and the Yaminahua this situation has made it necessary for them to seek economic alternatives through the cultivation of corn and rice and to participate in the manioc agroindustry.

The environmental conditions of the two Indigenous areas did not suffer serious or irreversible damage from exploitation of the rubber plantations due to the relatively benign character of this activity. Settlements in the region are characterized by their similarity as regards the activities and lifestyles of the inhabitants, who live in small, urban-like centers characterized by dwellings and commercial establishments rather than by the services they should provide to truly qualify as urban settlements. The lack of public water and sewerage systems is notorious, as is drainage and control of rainwater. The use of wells, watering troughs and streams for water supply is frequent.


Comprehensive analysis of the characteristics of the resources of the area of the Iñapari-Assis Brasil project shows the region to be appropriate for economic development. In general terms the principal potentialities for development in the area are as follows:

- Development of industries to transform agricultural and livestock products and the hydrobiological resources existing in the region;

- Production of permanent crops and pasture based on the establishment of native species will make it possible not only to eliminate or minimize the use of mineral fertilizers, but also to reduce the incidence of pests and diseases;

- Agricultural, forestry, and pasture use of land with economic potential by combining permanent crops with annual and pasture crops;

- Exploitation of rapid-growth forest species for the production of wood pulp or the generation of domestic electric power;

- Production of forest species on lands appropriate for permanent crops, with particular attention to chestnuts, not only under natural conditions but also with a view toward large-scale cultivation of this crop;

- Creation of reserves for the conservation of the existing biodiversity;

- Development of the area through the use of native techniques that have been successful in managing natural resources in a sustainable manner;

- Exploitation of genetic potential (germ plasma and genetic diversity);

- Reforesting of the rubber plantations, which, since they are made up of a native species that preserves the ecological balance, will avoid the depredation brought about by commercial exploitation of timber; and

- Promotion of agroindustrial activities.

Limiting Factors

The principal factors limiting development of the area are as follows:

- The dependent economic and social structure and the consequent high cost of inputs, services and capital goods for production activities;

- Inefficient exploitation of natural resources, which reduces the generation of income and results in the depredation of forests;

- The use of inappropriate technology in the exploitation of resources, which results in low levels of production and productivity;

- Scattered human settlements, which results in strengthening of the services sector for extractive activities to the detriment of the production sector;

- Uncoordinated growth of the sectors and the lack of centers for agro-industrial transformation activities;

- Low levels of public and private investment, which results in, first, isolation and marginalization due to the lack of basic services such as transportation, health, and education; and second, the low capacity of state coverage in actions to promote and support production;

- The lack of energy, communication and, especially, land transportation infrastructure, which prevents both access to resources and an increase in production;

- The lack of production diversification for the market and the resulting restriction to two products: rubber and, to a lesser degree, timber;

- Scattering of the population, which hinders economical provision of services for the population and the provision of infrastructure for production and marketing;

- Population decrease in absolute terms;

- Insufficient human and financial resources.

Policies, Objectives and Strategies

The Regional Diagnosis makes it possible to prepare basic guidelines in terms of policies and strategies for structuring a development plan that is also a plan for border integration based on the potentialities and limiting factors observed in the legal framework under which the program is being implemented.

These strategies are applied to the following areas:

Expansion and Diversification of the Regional Economic Structure

- Increasing productivity in the exploitation of rubber and chestnuts.

- Promotion of subsistence agriculture and permanent regional crops (cacao, coffee, guaraná).

- Promotion of border commerce and regional supply.

- Improvement of basic economic infrastructure (energy, transportation and communications).

- Promotion of an inventory of natural resources (flora, fauna, etc.).

Border Cooperation

- Improvement of means of regional transportation and communication.

- Promotion of the preparation and dissemination of inventories of the sociocultural values of the region.

Bilateral Relations

- Promotion of partial integration of education and health services in the region.
- Organization of border commerce.

Social Welfare

- Promotion of the expansion and integration of the provision of education and health equipment and services.

- Promotion of the training of human resources for health and education.

- Promotion of nutritional education.

- Development of community participation programs for the construction of housing and basic sanitation works with technology appropriate to the environment.


- Promotion of protection of the environment and contributing to the conservation of natural resources and maintenance of the ecological balance.

- Promotion of environmental education in all sectors of the population.

- Promotion of an inventory of regional flora and fauna.

Indigenous Communities

- Promotion of demarcation of Indigenous areas.
- Guaranteeing the provision of health and education services.
- Promotion of the integration of Indigenous and regional economies.

Institutional Considerations

- Provision of technical assistance to municipalities for the organization of administrative, taxation and planning structures.

- Provision of technical assistance for the preparation of municipal development plans.

Exchange and Dissemination of Technologies

- Promotion of studies, exchanges and dissemination of technologies appropriate to the environment in the sectors concerned with education, housing construction, architecture, landscaping, urban infrastructure (sanitation and paving) and management.

- Promotion of an inventory of the region's natural resources and cultural heritage with emphasis on identification of economic and environmental values.

Programs and Projects

The characteristics of the region having been described, the objectives proposed for the area included in the Program for Development of the Peruvian-Brazilian Border Communities and the strategies outlined in accordance with the region's potentialities and limitations have made it possible to identify 31 projects in the areas of production development, social development, the environment, Indigenous communities and urban development. Of these projects, 12 are national projects of Brazil, 13 are national projects of Peru and six are binational in scope. The binational projects have an implementation period of 3 years, with an estimated total investment of US$57, 8 million, from which US$19, 9 million correspond to the brazilian area and US$37, 9 million correspond to the peruvian area.

The section below presents the components of the binational projects identified. No information is presented on national projects, inasmuch as they are still in the preparatory stage.

Exploitation of Forest Resources

- Typification of agricultural, forestry and pasture structures and production systems and their territorial distribution.

- Evaluation of the economic, social and environmental performance of the systems identified.

- Proposal of new technologies to increase productivity.

- Management of woodlands in the form of parks, reserves and sanctuaries for the purposes of conservation.

- Characterization of the principal animal populations in the area.

- Management and use of secondary forests.

Development of Fisheries

- Installation of a community fisheries center.
- Establishment of units for control, supervision and technological support.

Development of Health

- Comprehensive project on preventive health.
- Training of technicians and professionals.
- Expansion and improvement of health services.
- Binational coordination.

Environmental Zoning

- Property census.
- Delimitation and establishment of protected natural areas.
- Environmental management.
- Management of production and surveillance systems.

Management of the Binational Program

- Public and private institutions in the region.
- Analysis of the organic structure and functioning of the institutions.
- Review of experiences in project execution.
- Design of mechanisms for promotion, conduct and management of the program.

Improvement of the San Lorenzo-Brasileia Road Linkup

- Improvement of the road conditions on the San Lorenzo-Iñapari stretch in Peru.
- Improvement of the road conditions on the Assis Brasil-Brasileia stretch in Brazil.

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