The Project


The Mapuche Chapter (MC)

In response to the latest impacts of climate change in the South of Chile, the MC project has been set up to provide relief to the country’s indigenous Mapuche population. Together with local communities, this initiative has been developed in order to first, alleviate the currently most pressing grievances, and second, support them in building up their very own capabilities to improve their current living conditions through their own strength.

In practice MC will provide the following support:

  1. Solar panel equipment to generate electricity;
  2. Productivity enhancing tools, matched to the particular activities of the different communities;
  3. Training for the installation, use, and maintenance of the devices, as well as for micro-entrepreneurial activities;



What are the challenges?

          And how can these devices help the Mapuche people?


Challenge 1: Poverty

While Chile as a whole has embarked on a prosperous way of development, the disparity of economic performance between the indigenous and non-indigenous population is considerable. Indigenous people still suffer from higher rates of poverty and unemployment, as well as far lower access to basic services such as education and medical attention. Additionally, the cost for electricity from the national grid is extraordinarily high, meaning a significant burden for these low-income households.

How does the MC project help?

The aim of MC is to promote an increase and diversification of the farmers’ production and income. Therefore, MC will provide productivity enhancing tools in combination with a variety of training sessions. The combination of these elements will facilitate laborious activities, improve the quality of their work, and strengthen their entrepreneurial spirit. Focusing on capacity building is crucial in order to economic achievements sustainable. In addition, a shift to renewable energy resources will reduce the high energy expenses of low-income families.



Challenge 2: Environment

The Mapuche habitat is famous for its natural beauty and abundant biodiversity, featuring volcanoes, national reserves and native forests and hot-springs. However, the sensitive ecosystem is endangered. Extensive mining and large scale agricultural projects cause serious contamination through sewage, industrial waste, and pesticides. Additionally, increasing energy demand has led to a rise in hydroelectricity. The newly built dams have seriously affected the water flow and level of rivers and streams; the lifeline of the Mapuches’ delicate ecosystem.

How does the MC project help?

The MC project will introduce the use of renewable energies among Mapuche communities in order to decrease the use of kerosene, fuel wood, and CO2 emitting fossil fuels.

Renewable energies perfectly fuse with the Mapuches’ ambition to protect their environment and thus could be widely replicated within other developing communities.


Challenge 3: Cultural Identity

Growing difficulties, especially globalization and climate change, have forced Mapuche people to adapt their traditional way of life. While the country’s large urban centers prosper, environmental degradation deteriorates the living conditions in rural Mapuche communes. In search of employment, young Mapuche people migrate to urban centers, distancing themselves from their families and cultural roots. Facing ethnic discrimination made the young migrants adapt their appearance, values, believes, and social behavior. This is precisely what Mapuche people fear most: the progressive loss of their cultural identity.

How does the MC project help?

Against this trend, the MC will empower marginalized Mapuche communities to participate in the life of the nation without losing sight of their cultural heritage.  Renewable energies will let the communities use electrical tools to diversify their production and add value to their produce. In addition, educational and technological workshops will support farmers in developing sustainable business models in harmony with their cultural identity.



Challenge 4: Water Scarcity and Pollution

At first glance, Chile is characterized by quite high levels of both access and quality of water supply. A closer look, however, reveals that both measures differ greatly when comparing urban and rural areas. The first decisive reason is progressive climate change, which has intensified both length and duration of summer droughts in Southern Chile. The second reason is that the growing industrial sector is using up and polluting the country’s water resources. Those communities worst hit by the drought rely on tanker trucks to supply them with drinking water.

How does the MC project help?

One way to solve the water problem could be to harvest rain water with appropriate facilities for collection, storage and treatment. Additionally, with solar powered water pumps the collected water could be used for domestic and agricultural activities, as well as for direct human consumption.