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Executive summary

Background and Objectives

Article 1 of the 1979 Colombian-Peruvian Treaty on Amazonian Cooperation establishes the following objective: "To give the highest priority to, and the vigorous pursuit of a policy of Amazonian Cooperation, in order to establish better models and mechanisms that will meet the specific integral development needs of Amazonian territories in each country so that full incorporation of those territories into their national economies is ensured."

On April 24, 1988, the presidents of Colombia and Peru met in San Antonio, Peru on the Amazon River, where they signed a joint declaration, in which they agreed on a bilateral plan of action, adopted the "Plan for Integral Development of the Putumayo River Basin" to be executed under the Joint Commission of the Colombian-Peruvian Amazonian Cooperation Treaty, and instructed their respective ministries of foreign affairs "to engage in joint negotiations to secure the financial support of international agencies, particularly that of the Organization of American States."

At its first meeting held in Leticia, capital of the Department of the Amazon (Colombia) in August 1988, the Joint Commission of the Colombian-Peruvian Treaty on Amazonian Cooperation approved the terms of reference for drafting an integrated development plan for the Putumayo River Basin (PPCP), and underscored that collaboration of the Organization of American States (OAS) made the Plan feasible.

In concurrence with the objectives, policies and strategies specified in each country's Amazonian Development Plan, the overall PPCP goals can be summarized as follows: (a) To promote the harmonious and sustained development of the area; (b) To integrate the area with the rest of the territory by constructing roads and other transportation facilities and establishing communication links, as well as through political, cultural, social and economic inter-action; (c) To improve the population's standard of living; (d) To concentrate, in the native communities, on substantially improving the handling of territorial issues, and the provision of basic social and health services, including the conservation of areas traditionally inhabited by such communities while protecting the fundamental rights of those communities, and, in particular, their social and cultural integrity; (e) To promote research and the compilation of information on the area.

Location and General Characteristics

The region covered by the Integrated Development Plan for the Putumayo River Basin is approximately 160,500 square kilometers and is situated in the border area between Peru and Colombia, in the Amazon Basin. Its estimated population in 1985 was 96,800 inhabitants, of which indians comprise about 16%. The average density of the area is 0.6 inhabitants per square kilometer. Although the population is scattered, most of the inhabitants are settled on the banks of the Amazon, Putumayo, Napo, and Caquetá Rivers. On the Colombian side, the main cities are Leticia on the Amazon River and Puerto Leguízamo on the Putumayo River. In Peru, the most populous towns are Pebas and Caballococha, on the Amazon River, and El Estrecho, on the Putumayo River.

The PPCP region is a remote, impoverished area largely cut off from the economic and productive activities in Peru and Colombia. Nevertheless, it has considerable natural resources of forests and indigenous species that could be rationally exploited in the near future. It is endowed with an extensive waterways network with potentially good fishing resources. Most of the land in the region is not particularly suitable for farming or livestock, however, in some areas, agricultural development is possible. The region is isolated from the rest of both countries, mainly because there are no adequate transportation systems or communications. Due to the remoteness, the small population, the small size of the populated centers and the lack of a regional and local administrative structure, social services are scarce. These factors have so far militated against the allocation of funds for installing social infrastructure. The population's living standards suffer from the poor quality or lack of housing, as well as poor nutrition, health and education.

Indians comprise a significant part of the population and belong to various linguistic families, each with its own culture. The communities earn their living through sustained and diversified use of the area's natural resources. This is based on the knowledge of where and when those resources are available. Most of the groups still practice the fundamental tenets of their culture, therefore ensuring their own survival and the preservation of the fragile ecological environment in which they live.

Natural Resources

The region's climate is very humid, between 82% and 92%, and very cloudy with rainfall throughout the year averaging 3,000 to 3,500 mm/year; the average monthly temperature varies between 23°C and 28° C, with a maximum of 32°C and a minimum of 20°C. Wind velocity is between 0.7 and 1.2 m/s. Information on water flow and stages of the rivers in the region is scarce because inadequate logistical infrastructure hampers operations at the hydrometric stations, most of which are also relatively new. In the Northern part of the region, gneissic, quartzite, phyllite and metaconglomerate rocks of the Guyana Shield protrude to the surface. The Shield is covered by Paleozoic and Tertiary rocks. From an economic standpoint, it is important to note that, in the Colombian section, there is coal in Porto Nariño. Although the coal produces little heat and has a high ash content, it could be used for energy after it is washed. Gold can be found in the area around La Pradera, principally in the Taraira or Traira River Basin and Chorro La Libertad on the Apaporis River, and other potential prospecting sites exist as well. On the Peruvian side, claims have been filed close to the source of the Algodón River to mine gold and other ores.

The soils of the region can be divided into three types: alluvial, bare, and rocky. The soils are very acidic with a high aluminum content, a very poor base saturation, and very little calcium, magnesium, potash, and phosphorus. The natural fertility, structural stability, and permeability of the soils are also very low. This, combined with other factors, render them very susceptible to erosion.

A lush mass of evergreen trees, some as tall as 40 m, fostered by the high rainfalls and temperatures in the region, flourish with a mixed display of blossoms at two or three strata. Most of the territory is thus covered with different types of forests growing in three physiographic regions: alluvial plain forests prone to flooding; forests on terraces and surfaces not susceptible to flooding; and mountain forests. Many species are marketed including: cedar, caneo, andiroba, amarillo, endichería, arenillo, brasil, caimo, flormorado, guarango, laurel, rosewood, tormillo, and sangretoro. Lumbering, however, does not play a significant role in the overall regional economy. Other species abound but are unsuitable for timber, and although there is little demand for them in the towns, they bear fruit and are used for producing fibers, oils, essences and medicines consumed by the native communities. The indigenous species with the best commercial prospects are: maní de árbol or inchi, chontadura, ashaí or hussai, palma milpesos, and uva caimarona. Land settlement with deforestation is only found in small sections of the basins of the Putumayo, Caquetá and Amazonas Rivers.

Three national parks, encompassing around 1,200,000 hectares, are located in the Colombian area: the Amacaoyacu Park, located in the Department of the Amazon, is about 295,500 hectares; the Cahuinarí Park, with 575,500 hectares, is located on a large part of the Predio Putumayo Indian Reservation, on the Caquetá River; and the La Paya Park, located in the Departemtn of Putumayo, with 422,000 hectares, of which 80% are in the area of the Plan.

The fauna of the region thrives with both vertebrate and invertebrate species, a great number of which are unique to the area.

Physical Infrastructure

Transportation is one of the principal problems for economic and social development of the area under the Project. There are very few overland transportation routes because they are difficult to build and maintain due to of geological and climatic conditions, and their resulting high cost. Air transport is irregular and also very expensive. The rivers are the most important means of transportation in the interior, but such transportation is irregular, since, from November to March, the river subsides and most of the river network is unnavigable, even for small vessels. Harbor infrastructure for loading and unloading is inadequate, and such operations are generally done in makeshift areas.

Except for the satellite communication systems in Caballococha in Peru, and Leticia and Puerto Leguízamo in Colombia, telecommunications are deficient in most of the area covered by the Project. TELECOM, however, recently installed small satelite communication units in a large part of the Colombian river settlements. A few places have high frequency telephone service. The postal service is slow and unreliable because there are very few branch post offices, and this obliges users to seek other means of communications.

Some public service agencies supplying energy can be found in the area, except in Leticia, however they are few and/or of poor quality. The thermal diesel plants are not reliable and function for only a few hours per day, and then only in some towns.

Social Aspects

The population is widely dispersed over a very large geographical area. A great proportion of the population is young, and thus provides the region with a substantial and potentially significant work force. The economically active population is engaged mainly in the primary activities of hunting, fishing, agriculture, and forestry; a smaller percentage provides services. The population above 15 years of age has a high illiteracy rate, due mainly to the rural location and the fact that people have limited or no access to the educational system.

Educational services are inadequate in a large part of the area, with relatively more attention being given to services at the primary level, and less continuity of services on the secondary level. Most educational centers in the towns have poor infrastructure and inadequate supplies and equipment. Even though the urban populations have good infrastructure for primary and secondary education, their illiteracy rates are also high.

Health services lack sufficient medicines, supplies, equipment, and medical and health personnel to cater to the entire region. The civilian river service occasionally helps, but, overall, the main problem affecting all the health agencies is lack of funds. This problem is compounded by the geographical situation, the jungle terrain, the absence of transport systems, and the failure to educate the population through special health programs on preventive medicine.

Most of the inhabitants in the region lack the basic essential services, and this results in very low standards of living, nutrition, health and education.

Economic Activities

Regional production is very limited, and the production and marketing infrastructure does not adequately support the region's development. No clear policies have been formulated on regional development, and no sufficiently comprehensive research projects have been undertaken to evaluate the resources available, and/or the way to exploit them rationally.

Farming in the region basically consists of subsistence agriculture. It is a migratory system of cut-burn-cultivate-rest procedures practiced on the firm soil of the highlands, and in periodic plantings on the river banks, depending on the river fluctuations. Maize, rice, beans, plantains, cassava, cocoa, and sugar cane are the main crops. Wasteful land management practices have considerably degraded the grazing land where cattle are reared using traditional technology, inadequate feeding, few health controls, and a scant supply of salt and food concentrates.

In the rural areas near the principal ports, small-scale fishing and trade in fresh and dried fish are important activities. Trade and the provision of services are the predominant activities in the urban centers. Some fishermen fish throughout the year, but when the river swells, most engage in other activities, particularly agriculture. Fish is marketed in three varieties: fresh, fresh-salted or semi-salted, and dry salted. The inadequate fishing infrastructure does not help development, particularly in the Putumayo River Basin. In most of the region, the inhabitants fish to earn a living, and in all cases it is done on a small-scale. The trade in ornamental fish is important, especially in Leticia.

Livestock production is in its early stages; larger animals are reared on terrains that cannot be flooded, whereas hog breeding and poultry rearing are widespread practices in all the basins of the region. Local stock, crossed with zebu that have low yields of meat and milk, is used for cattle breeding. Credit is onerous and almost non-existent; the lack of good pasture and breeders results in low profits. This discourages the producers and causes them to gradually lose the capital they have invested in their farms. Hog breeding, in which low yield local stock is used, is basically domestic and always extensive. The hogs are fed left-over harvests, fruits, tuber crops and grains of the region, and a limited amount of protein foods. There are no plans to improve or better manage the hogs, and veterinarian care (medicines and vaccines) is scarcely provided. Chicken farming, mostly a family bussiness, is very widespread, with numerous small farms using local dual purpose stock and farm produce as feed. Health programs are not being managed, and therefore the birds continue to suffer high sickness and death rates.

Indian Communities

The Indian population in the Colombian zone in 1989 were more than 15,000 from the following ethnic groups: Witoto, Andoque, Ticuna and Siona. Indian Reservations cover approximately 60,000 km2, including the Predio Putumayo Indian Reservation with an area of more than 55,000 km2. In the Peruvian area, the Indian population is settled primarily on the Putumayo River and on some secondary rivers such as the Yubineto, Angusilla, Algodón, Yaguas. This population, of approximately 9,000 in 1989, is made up of 40 Indian settlements representing eight ethnolinguistic groups: Huitoto, Quechua, Bora, Ocaina, Yagua, Secoya, Cocama and Orejón.

Employment opportunities for the Indians are very limited. In many cases, increased cultivation of illegal crops has altered indigenous cultural patterns. This same effect occurred years before, causing rubber to be exploited and animal skins to be traded. Politically, these communities revolve around the village, home of a blood-related, male-descended clan. They also customarily control some streams or rivers for access to places where they plant, hunt and fish. The Indian communities in the region have had a thousand years to adapt to the Amazonian environment, and have accumulated an immense and extremely valuable stock of knowledge on how best to use the natural resources without destroying them.

Policies, Objectives and Strategies

The policies adopted for the region are based on decisions made by the Governments of Colombia and Peru within the framework of the Treaty for Amazonian Cooperation signed by the Amazonian countries; the Colombian-Peruvian Treaty on Amazonian Cooperation; the decisions made by the presidents of the countries signatory to the Treaty and by the Presidents of Colombia and Peru; and the National Development Plan (1986-1990) approved by the Government of Peru and Colombia's National Plan for Border Development.

Colombia's National Council for Economic and Social Policy - CONPES - approved the guidelines stated in the National Plan for Border Development establishing strategies and medium-and long-term policies for linking the development of the border regions to the entire national economy.

Central to the border plan strategy are decentralization and regional autonomy processes, as well as proper identification of how such processes effect on the national economy.

The Government of Peru approved the National Development Plan 1986-1990, which is designed primarily to promote the economic integration for border regions and the wider society; to preserve Peruvian culture; to enhance the infrastructure and quality of social and economic services; and to conserve the environment and its natural resources.

According to the National Plan, the purpose of developing border areas is to consolidate the country's physical, economic, political, social and cultural integration; to ensure, with managed rural settlement programs under binational and multinational border integration programs, even population distribution, effective border settlement, and respect for the resident native populations.

The purposes of the Colombian-Peruvian Integrated Development Plan for the Putumayo River Basin is to prepare and structure an Integrated Diagnostic of the Region to determine its potentials and constraints, and to make it possible to formulate a development plan identifying programs and projects for national or binational execution, and indicating those programs and projects being implemented under existing investment and financing plans.

The Integrated Development Plan for the Putumayo River Basin will be used to plan and manage the Basin. It will take into account the inhabitants of the region, particularly the Indian communities; conservation and management of natural resources and their rational exploitation, communication routes, population centers, river use, and the upgrading of ports and airports; environmental health; and the identification of projects for immediate execution and implementation in the short, medium and long-term. Special attention will be paid to coordinating institutions, and to ways of expediting the steps and procedures for the timely execution of binational projects. Overall, regional integration, community empowerment, increased standards of living and orderly management of the development process will be the goals.

To achieve the goal of sustainable integrated development in the region, it is proposed that priority be given to four principal areas: management of the current situation; establishment of new production systems; regular increases in the population's standard of living, and the creation of environmental conservation units.

In accordance with the development policies and objectives and the overall strategy presented, sectoral strategies for seven principal activities have been proposed: 1) natural resources and ecosystems; 2) development and agricultural promotion; 3) productive activities; 4) economic infrastructure; 5) social infrastructure; 6) urban and rural sanitation; and 7) comprehensive care for the Indian communities.

Studies and Projects

The analysis of the regional conditions, to determine the area's potential and constraints and to set the basic guidelines for objectives and strategies of the Integrated Development Plan for the Putumayo River Basin has made it possible to identify and review studies and projects that might be used for formulating the Plan.

Basic Studies

The binational proposal includes 4 basic studies:

1. General Survey of Soils
2. Hydromorpho logical Studies
3. Geological Evaluation

· Preliminary Evaluation of Coal
· Evaluation of Geological Information on the Napo and Putumayo River Basins
· Preliminary Geological Exploration of the Putumayo River Basin
· Survey for Building Materials

4. Scientific Expedition

· Flora
· Fauna
· Soils
· Hydrobiology
· Geology
· Native/Indigeneous Communities

Binational Projects

The seven binational projects identified and approved by the Executive Committee of the Plan apply to:

1. Natural Resources and Ecosystems

· Integral and Sustainable Forest Management
· Natural Parks

2. Comprehensive Care for the Indian/Native Communities

· Education and Training
· Health and Local Sanitation
· Agricultural and Livestock Consolidation
· Marketing/Trade

3. Consolidation of the Agricultural Sector

· Amazonian Integral Farms or Agricultural Production Units (UPAAZ)
· Management of the Natural Forest Life

4. Comprehensive Fisheries Management

· Management and Development of Ornamental Fishing
· Management and Development of Small-scale Fishing
· Training and Promotion to Develop Small-scale Fisheries and Aquiculture
· Research and Development of Aquiculture

5. Marketing
6. Comprehensive Health
7. Education

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