Empowering Girls to Protect Paraguay's Subtropical Rainforest

Empowering Girls to Protect Paraguay's Subtropical Rainforest

How can we save the last remaining piece of continuous Atlantic rainforest in Paraguay from deforestation in the long term? By educating young rural and indigenous girls! This way they become ambassadors of change in their communities, ensuring a sustainable development.

Project Brainforest is a joint project of the leading organization in sustainable development and environmental conservation in Paraguay - the Fundación Moisés Bertoni - and the German development organization URIDU. The goal of the project is to provide indigenous girls with the knowledge, tools and skills to contribute to a positive and sustainable development in their communities.

Covering 64,000 hectares, the Mbaracayú UNESCO Biosphere Reserve represents two ecosystems that both enjoy high protection worldwide: the Atlantic Rainforest and the Cerrado Savannah. The Atlantic Rainforest is one of the most diverse and biologically richest forests in the world - but also one of the most endangered. Only about 7% of its original area persists in the present.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) were adopted in September 2015 by the United Nations General Assembly. The SDGs outline a new and ambitious global agenda to reduce poverty and hunger, improve health, promote gender equality, protect the planet and much more. Project Brainforest integrates 12 of the 17 goals into its education and conservation concept.

The rainforest school for girls

Centro Educativo Mbaracayu

The Centro Educativo Mbaracayú (CEM) is a boarding school for young rural and indigenous girls between the ages of 15 and 18 who live primarily within the Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve. The school was founded in 2009 as part of a strategy that integrates local communities into nature conservation. The school offers a technical degree in environmental science, which focuses on the methodology of "learning by doing". The goal of the CEM is to transform young rural and indigenous women into ambassadors of change, conservationists and women entrepreneurs who improve the quality of life of their families and in their communities.

The indigenous communities of the region

Aché indigenous community

Indigenous communities of the Mbya-Guaraní and Aché ethnic groups live in the area of the Mbaracayú Biosphere Reserve. More than 80% of the region's population live in extreme poverty; the illiteracy rate among women is enormously high. Almost 90% of girls become pregnant at the age of 14 and drop out of school. By offering these young women new perspectives, we actively contribute to a positive change in their families and in their communities, thereby ensuring the survival of the rainforest.

Audiopedia - We make knowledge audible

Student of the Centro Educativo Mbaracayú

Project Brainforest helps the students to transmit their knowledge of health, hygiene, family planning and income generating activities to their communities. Our solar-powered Audiopedia players are used for this purpose due to the high illiteracy rates in rural areas. This technology enables the girls to create new perspectives for their their rural and indigenous communities.