Visit to Pakum, Wachapea and Nazareth communities – common approach Child Centered Social Accountability (CCSA)

In December 2023, we learned on-site about the pilot implementation of the common approach of Child Centered Social Accountability (CCSA) with cultural adaptation to indigenous populations in three communities in the Peruvian Amazon, the implementation of which was led by Action for Children y EQUITY Peruwho complemented the approach and adaptation of this methodology.

EQUIDAD Peru has extensive experience working with the Awajún people in various communities, and Acción por los Niños has piloted the common approach at the global level with Save the Children, providing advice from its experience in implementing the common approach in a district of the capital of Peru, and also its vision of civil society organizations in the global presentation of the common approach.

Save the Children’s offices in Peru and Guatemala joined this visit to learn about the implementation of the common approach and the opportunity to implement it in the context of indigenous communities.

According to Action for Children[1]The social accountability approach is based on the right of citizens, especially children, to evaluate the quality of public services and hold providers accountable, thus ensuring that services meet their needs and expectations.

In order to exercise social responsibility, it is essential that children and adolescents know their rights and recognize themselves as users with the right to receive quality care; that service providers have a receptive attitude and assume their functions responsibly; and that a mechanism is generated that allows for an honest and transparent dialogue on the quality of service provision and agreements to achieve the necessary improvements.

This approach complements, with the participation of children and adolescents, the supervision and control mechanisms that the public administration and the State are obliged to establish to guarantee access to and quality of public services.

Having this conceptual and methodological framework developed globally, the challenge this time has been to implement it not only in rural environments, but also with indigenous peoples, in this case the Awajún people. This pilot adaptation experience began in August 2023, so the first limitation has been time, since the pilot was to be completed in December 2023. In general, it is recommended to have at least 12 months to optimally develop the methodology. Nevertheless, EQUIDAD Peru, given its work in this territory, will continue to follow up on the activities and processes initiated by the children.

A first key action that has led to the positive implementation of the methodology was the alliance with the Awajún Autonomous Territorial Government. This indigenous governance space, with a strong leadership that is committed to the necessary changes that promote the progress of the Awajún people, has been essential for the territorial and community level to give a green light and a friendly entrance to the intervention communities. For this purpose, several meetings were held with the leaders to share the project’s objective, its purpose, the presentation of the methodology and the needs to be able to carry it out. These meetings were very well received and aimed at a mutual understanding of needs, objectives and expectations, which resulted in the identification of the three intervention communities and also in a first approximation of the work with children and adolescents, as well as with community leaders and the community in general.

Thus, together with the Awajún Autonomous Territorial Government, three promoters were selected (two women and one man), one per community, who could support the implementation and follow-up of the project, as well as act as a bridge with the community leaders (Pamuk) and the autonomous territorial government itself. These promoters also had to meet some basic requirements such as availability of time, knowledge of the community and support, and motivation to carry out activities with children and adolescents.

Once the promoters were chosen and trained in the common approach, together with the team of Acción por los Niños and EQUIDAD Perú (who traveled once a month to the communities and had continuous communication and accompaniment with the promoters via telephone), the process of calling the communities was initiated so that children and adolescents could express their desire to participate, as well as that of their families.

Each community has its particularities, but in general, the following singularities were found to have an impact on the implementation:

  • Use of the Awajún language for communication and socialization, which was addressed together with the promoters, who have created a solid climate of trust with the groups of children and adolescents.
  • General lack of knowledge of rights on the part of children and adolescents, which had an initial impact on the methodological implementation that pre-supposes an approach with organized or non-organized groups of children and adolescents, but who manage certain information and activity based on the defense of their rights.
  • No previous form of organization of children in the communities, which also generated an initial effort to rethink activities according to the groups that could generate informal spaces of unity between girls and boys that would encourage joint reflections and the generation of mutual trust.
  • Children and adolescents are not seen as subjects of rights within the communities and the situation is worse in non-indigenous environments, such as public services. Addressing self-esteem with them has been very important, so that they feel the strength and courage to be able to present their ideas and talk to leaders, public servants and the adult community.
  • Weakness of the State in the communities: public services in the communities are almost nonexistent and with very little presence in the district capital. The lack of clarity in the administrative hierarchy and decision making, as well as the low budget to implement projects or attend to cases, has complicated communication with public servants in the area, despite the personal disposition of some of them.
  • Resistance to the participation and addressing of certain issues by the communities, such as sexual violence against girls and adolescent women, one of the priorities identified by one of the groups. The idiosyncrasy and internal community dynamics of the Awajún people are closed and they are jealous of their uses, customs and internal laws. This issue was discussed with the Autonomous Territorial Government, who understand the need to combine the Awajún justice system with the ordinary justice system.

In total, around 90 children and adolescents have participated in a sustained and protagonist way in the process, with different priority themes that they identified after different work sessions and methodological adaptation:

  • Pakum: 40 children prioritized the lack of drinking water, poor hygiene and the presence of mosquitoes.
  • Nazareth: 30 children and adolescents prioritized contamination, water, personal hygiene, psychological abuse, family abuse and rape of children
  • Wachapea: 20 adolescents prioritized limited access to health services in the community and increase in drug use

During the implementation of this pilot experience, it has been possible to verify during the visit the development of two relevant actions that show the work process and also the achievement of the initial objectives proposed in the methodology:

  1. Meetings of children and adolescents with the Pamuk (community leaders) as well as the leadership of the Awajún Autonomous Territorial Government, which have served both to increase the capacity of children in their expression and positioning, as well as in the identification of children as a key community actor in the processes of change.
  2. Meetings of children and adolescents with the district mayor and the local health director in Chiriaco (district capital). During the visit we were able to be present at the meeting with the local health director, where the children and adolescents, by community, let him know their priorities and demands, achieving a written commitment from the director. From what the children told us, the same thing happened with the district mayor, keeping an expectation about the next steps that the Mayor’s Office was going to take.

Another achievement not initially expected from this pilot experience that could be seen during this visit was the installation of the first School Municipality in the community of Nazareth, with the support of the promoter in the community and also of the educational community. Undoubtedly a space for school governance that has been very well received by the school and also by the community and we hope that it can continue in the coming years.

[1] Action for Children, “Social responsibility focused on children. Una experiencia en desarrollo”, October 2021, Lima (Peru).