Katoonarib is a Wapishana community of more than 400 people located in the South central Rupununi, in a “bush island” region south of the Kanuku mountains. Indeed, “Katoonarib” translates to “many bush islands” – a region where pockets of semi-deciduous forest occupy a landscape which is otherwise dominated by savannah. Inhabitants of the village practice mainly small scale agriculture within these bush islands, with some fishing and hunting. As in many makushi and wapishana communities, cassava is the staple food. It is widely grown and processed into cassava bread, meal and wine. Other crops such as peanuts, banana and sweet potatoes are also cultivated on small crop fields. Indigenous farming skills has enabled the Katoonarib community to perform crop rotation in the bush islands without undermining the extension and biodiversity of the bush islands. Bush island management (i.e. the sustainable management of this region without depleting its valuable natural resources) is therefore the local best practice the community of Katoonarib decided to document and share with other communities within Project COBRA.

Another goal the Katoonarib community hopes to achieve is to maintain community traditions by adopting some of the practices recorded within the North Rupununi best practice videos and photostories . The traditional way of life in Katoonarib is being influenced by many young people moving out of the village (seeking jobs in Georgetown or in the mining sector). Youth in general seems to be less interested in acquiring traditional skills in farming, food processing, carving, handycrafts, singing and dancing, etc. and are more attracted by technologies and western lifestyles. For this reason, efforts to restore cultural pride and transmit cultural knowledge are a key concern of the elder members of the community. This is why the community decided to implement, with the help of Project COBRA, a program for the implementation of a series of cultural activities within the community.

Project COBRA has received great support from the Katoonarib community during COBRA engagement in the village, which took place between January and July 2014. The toshao and other elders spent a lot of time with the COBRA team during the training, commenting, integrating and validating the challenges and solutions identified by the young trainees. Francis and Habert, two elders from the community, participated in the training almost every day, providing invaluable advice. All the days were spent discussing community best practices and giving training in participatory video and photography in order to film the best practices.

QUICK DOWNLOAD: Check out the English version of the COBRA Handbook for Practitioners.