3.6.2 Best Practices

The exemplar for best practices in this section illustrates all the factors inherent in capacity-building that have been cited in this part of the toolkit. This programme began before the popularization of the Internet, but it continues to be an essential point of reference in the field of Indigenous communication.

The Guarani Communication Unit required an ample development process. Its story began with the Evaluation of the Province of the Cordillera de Santa Cruz, Bolivia in 1986, which encompassed several Guarani communities. In this evaluation, the Guarani People's Assembly (APG) adopted a number of development strategies, via dissemination among the various Indigenous leaders. The APG formed an organizational structure, whose projects and programmes were implemented through coordination with public institutions, international agencies and social organizations.

Education was identified by the APG as fundamental for development of an intercultural and bilingual proposal to improve Guarani education and acquire appropriately honed human resources, consistent with their origins and committed to their community. Under this strategy, and with the aim of having a mechanism for the execution and implementation of programs and projects, the Workshop of Education and Communication Guarani (TEKO Guarani) was constituted and began work in coordination with state and international institutions such as UNICEF.

As part of TEKO Guarani, a communication team was instituted, which supported literacy and bilingual education activities through content produced locally and supported by local radio stations that were even able reach other Guarani communities in Paraguay and Argentina.

After very successful work, in 1995 the TEKO Guarani and the FAO Communication for Development in Latin America project signed an agreement that would transform the TEKO Communication Team into the Guarani Communication Unit (UCG). The goal was to generate a communication system that would improve the quality of life of the Guarani people and promote Indigenous development. Three years of planning workshops and training went into building a Guarani people's communication vision. With technical support and international financing cooperation, an intercultural knowledge and information-sharing proposal using video and community radio was defined. The communities continued working independently, producing communications materials and implementing plans aimed at development for another six years.

Motivated by its prior performance, the UCG decided to conduct a self-appraisal of its work. For this reason, help was sought from the APG and other indigenous organizations in Bolivia. For the first time, the Indigenous population independently documented and systematically analyzed the use of the media and communications produced by and for Guarani communities. The results of the self-appraisal confirmed the importance of adopting new media. New goals were defined, such as the need for a national policy that recognizes the right of the Indigenous people to provide and access communication services with funding from local institutions.

Currently, the Guarani Communications Unit continues to promote audiovisual courses in communities, with a pedagogical method developed by the unit´s members themselves that is participatory and focused on the search for solutions to the communities´ needs. Additionally, the unit formulates and implements peasant training communication plans that allow them to agree on the priorities, technical information, resources and logistics. They produce materials collectively and optimize the resources available. These plans have also been useful as negotiating tools for projects by local municipalities.

As can be seen, this best practice example began with a planning process that was founded on the community life strategy and adopted communication as a tool with which to support the various development activities considered fundamental. Its progress, then, not only extended to applications and content generation, but also to research and involvement in public policy formation, in order to monitor results. In this example, capacity-building is evident in all aspects.