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Project REGAIN- addressing governance conflict to uplift Indigenous families from poverty and conserve key ecosystems in IP territories

Helping Indigenous Peoples address conflict in governance, control over land, and interphasing indigenous knowledge in conservation

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Explain your idea

Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines have their rights recognized through the Indigenous Peoples Rights Act of 1997 (IPRA). Under the IPRA, they have a means to get legal recognition of the ownership of their territories. However, Indigenous Peoples have remained marginalized and in extreme poverty. Where IP communities have gained their Certificate of Ancestral Domain Titles(CADT), they continue to face challenges in asserting their rights and authority over their land and resources, and are overpowered by land grabbing corporations and individuals. Environmental degradation has continued, especially due to massive conversion; and where IPs have managed over certain areas, there stand the last frontiers of Philippines' forests. Indigenous Peoples need to strengthen their indigenous governance to be able to confront the conflicts of authority and decision-making, especially over ownership and control of lands within their territories. They need to regain control over production areas which have been in previous decades their source of subsistence and livelihoods, but have been converted to monocrop and agro-industrial plantations. This is to help increase their means of productivity, and have opportunities to fairly benefit from the resources in their territory, and secure their means of living. Lastly, Indigenous Peoples need to be able to bring back their Indigenous Knowledge, Systems and Practices (IKSP) in maintaining or implementing conservation of life-supporting ecosystems within their territories. Samdhana has been working with Indigenous Peoples providing them with capacity-building and accompanying them in the consolidation and strengthening of their tribes and communities. By supporting community processes, providing mobilization funds to ensure that understanding about Indigenous Peoples Rights are attained by all members of the tribe, especially those who live furthest and in the socio-political margins, providing culturally appropriate and gender-sensitive trainings, and fostering inter and intra-tribal community learning exchange, we help in facilitating genuine empowerment of Indigenous Peoples in the Philippines. Strengthening self-governance of Indigenous Peoples enables them to address and resolve conflicts within their ancestral domain (PEACE), regain control of their lands and resources, increasing opportunities for all members of the tribe to have fulfilling livelihoods and grow in PROSPERITY, and support them in developing their ancestral domain management plan as the main tool for conservation and sustainable resource use (PLANET).

Who Benefits?

The Menuvu Kirinteken-Ilantongen tribe were recently awarded the government issued CADT covering 23,000 hectares in 42 barangays (villages). Their ancestral domain is located within the quadri-boundary of the municipalities of Don Carlos, Kalilangan, Kibawe and Pangantucan in Bukidnon Province (Northern Mindanao, Philippines). By supporting the Menuvu Kirinteken - Ilantongen tribe, they will strengthen their Indigenous Political Structure, and enable them to engage on equal footing the local governments with regard to governing the barangays within the ancestral domain and resolve land conflicts with individuals and corporations. They will be able to complete a comprehensive Ancestral Domain Sustainable Development and Protection Plan that incorporates disaster risk preparedness, climate adaptation and resilience building in the governance of their territories.

How is your idea unique?

Samdhana has worked with Indigenous Peoples outside of a "project' framework, by developing effective partnerships with them. Our approach of facilitation and mentoring ensure that we are soliciting the ideas and initiatives coming from the tribe itself, and help them in developing their ideas with minimal or no imposition on outputs. We understand that genuine IP rights assertion and empowerment is a process not expected to be completed within one project cycle. Our partnership with IP communities stem from a 'network of trust', wherein Samdhana activists and rights advocates have worked with these communities and have known them through critical periods of engagement. Knowing these tribal communities, and having a sense of trust between us helps Samdhana to provide flexible support to Indigenous Peoples. Samdhana works with the principle of reaching and funding those who have no capacity to access formal donor funds and projects.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Full-scale roll-out: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the users I am trying to reach with my idea. I am ready to expand the pilot significantly.

Tell us more about you

The Samdhana Institute ( is a non-profit regional organization in Southeast Asia. We are working in Indonesia, the Mekong Region and in the Philippines. Our vision is for a region where natural, cultural and spiritual diversity are valued and environmental conflicts are resolved peacefully, with justice and equity for all parties. We work towards assisting communities so that they are able to directly manage their local natural resources, local and indigenous peoples have clear rights, have ready recourse to justice, have strong and skilled leadership, as well as stable financial resources and access to appropriate technical support. Samdhana's community of Fellows are environmental and rights activists who are committed to inter-generational and universal values of nurturing people, nature and culture. We share a commitment to 'giving back' what we have learned to the next generation with their knowledge, experiences, and extensive local and global networks. We have a dynamic team in the Philippines composed of Community Facilitators and the management support team who will be working on this project, and a pool of Samdhana Fellows and other Indigenous leader partners who can provide mentoring and peer learning.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

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Hi Joan!

Great to have you onboard! We noticed your post is currently unpublished. Was this your intention? We'd love to have it be included in the challenge. You can publish it by hitting the "Publish" button at the top of your post. You can also update your post by clicking on the "Edit Contribution" on top. We're looking forward to seeing your contribution in this challenge.