The Gran Chaco Small Projects Fund (SPF) is a joint initiative of CWS and CREAS. For both organizations, a SPF is a way of strengthening the capacity of civil society organizations in contexts where human rights are being violated. It provides seed funding to groups so that they can start new initiatives or consolidate ongoing ones. It aims to strengthen processes of citizenship and community development with the long-term aim of achieving deeper social change.

    The Gran Chaco SPF aspires to support short and timely initiatives that focus on solutions to concrete problems or achieving transformational community development.

    The objective is to strengthen the capacity of civil society organizations, groups and communities in the South American Chaco to transform the conditions of poverty and inequality and promote human rights.

    The South American Gran Chaco is a multi-ethnic, multi cultural region of natural beauty and environmental fragility where diverse traditions, beliefs and religions interact. The thematic areas supported by the fund aim to generate awareness – at the community, political, cultural levels both inside and outside the Chaco region – that all these are necessary and valuable elements for building more just societies and communities.

    The Gran Chaco SPF believes another Chaco is possible.

    The thematic areas supported by the fund aim to contribute to sustainable development, social justice and long-lasting peace in the Gran Chaco region.

    1. Social Economy

    Small entrepreneurial ventures lead by community based groups in both urban and rural areas with active participation of women and youth.

    2. Environmental Justice

    Initiatives that promote greater environmental protection and monitoring of the development, implementation of and compliance with environmental laws and related public policies.

    3. Women´s Rights and Gender Equality

    Initiatives that promote women’s rights and contribute to equal opportunities and enhanced citizenship, in particular initiatives that focus on the prevention of all forms of violence against women and the promotion of women´s leadership.

    4. Accountability and Quality Humanitarian Aid

    Accountability means involving the women, men and children affected by drought, flooding or other humanitarian crisis in the planning, implementation and evaluation of emergency response efforts. The fund will support actions that promote awareness of and training in minimum standards for quality humanitarian assistance to community leaders and/or local authorities in areas that suffer chronic emergencies.

    5. Protection of Human Rights Defenders

    In cases of emergency, the fund will provide financial support for the physical, legal and emotional protection of community leaders and other civil society representatives suffering threats, harassment or other forms of persecution or violence due to their work and commitment to peace and justice in the Chaco.
    All projects must:

    • Focus on solutions to concrete problems or needs in the community as well as on strengthening community organization and participation.
    • Be inclusive, recognize universal human rights and aim to raise awareness amongst participants of their rights.
    • Have a multiplying effect either by inspiring other groups to carry out similar initiatives or by sharing the experience and lessons learned with other groups.
    • Be a collective process of developing, implementing and monitoring a small project.
    • Be sustainable – it should be clear how the group plans to continue the project beyond support from the Gran Chaco SPF.

    The fund supports: community groups, networks, small farmer and indigenous organizations, organized groups of youth and women, study groups, research centers, cooperatives, small associated producers, productive enterprises, small businesses and community radio amongst others.

    The fund covers the following items: Purchase of equipment, training activities, capacity building, publishing, inputs for production, small refurbishments, studies and research, communication campaigns, per diems for trainers at specific events.

    The fund does not cover: payment of salaries, individual grants or scholarships, construction of religious spaces, office overheads or purchase of real estate.

    Organizations or groups interested in applying should fill out the following Project Development Guide:

    Right-click "Save as".

    The maximum amount groups can request is US$3000 (AR$25,000)

    Joining forces against violence and discrimination, Argentina

    Grupo El Aullido is made up of indigenous and non-indigenous women from ​​Las Lomitas, Formosa, Argentina who have been working together for 10 years to promote gender equality by providing, amongst other activities, training in reproductive health and conflict management and prevention. Following widespread participation of various state institutions and young people in primary and secondary schools from Las Lomitas in the nationwide march against gender based violence “Not One Less” in June 2015, the issue of violence against women gained more visibility and with this small project the group will develop strategies to address the problem through research into cultural aspects of gender based violence, the development of training workshops on alternative approaches to confronting violence and campaigns to promote greater awareness amongst women and encourage them to claim their rights.

    Nivacle in Formosa, Argentina

    The Nivacle today are in a process of recovery of rights and recognition of their pre-existence in what is today the province of Formosa. With support from the Association for the Promotion of Culture and Development (APCD) a mapping of Nivacle pre-existence was carried out through the collection of historical data, stories from the elderly and visits to sacred sites. With this small project, a publication of this process will be developed with the Nivacle as the key protagonists documenting and raising awareness of their history and pre-existence. A key objective of the publication will be to advocate for recognition from the Government of Formosa of the Nivacle and include them as subjects with rights in all provincial policies and programs.

    “Alpi Laxarai Lahuelo`opi” Craftswomen who work with palm leaves, Argentina

    Qom Lashepi Alpi is made up of indigenous craftswomen from the city of Castelli and surrounding rural areas who for 28 years have been working together in organizational processes to recover collective memory of traditional modes of production and enhance the status and role of indigenous women in family and social structures. In 2013 the group began working with a Cooperative from Buenos Aires specialised in branding and design. The Cooperative was created by 7 young entrepreneurs who have worked with recovered factories, craftspeople and small businesses to implement independent and sustainable marketing and productions strategies. It has created a brand that identifies the group of indigenous women, highlighting their innovative products and the ancestral knowledge of indigenous culture. This small project aims to develop marketing and networking strategies to enhance sales at the provincial and national level, strengthen the skills of young indigenous Qom regarding communications tools and create a network to provide support for promotion and continued marketing.

    Promoting changes in the judicial system for a life free from gender-based violence, Bolivia

    This is the second phase of the project "Advocacy and monitoring of access to justice for crimes of domestic violence" supported in 2014. It aims to continue contributing to improving access to justice for women victims of violence, promoting changes in the practices and procedures of the judicial system in the city of Tarija and municipality of Yacuiba which both have the highest number of recorded cases of violence against women and the lowest number of cases leading to a trial or sentencing. Two roundtable meetings will work with representatives of the Judiciary, Public Prosecutors, police authorities and organizations of women human rights defenders to strengthen institutional response with regard to crimes of domestic violence while a process of “Legal literacy” will provide Guaraní women and other women's organizations with the basic knowledge of their rights and the legal steps and procedures for reporting violence.

    Strengthening community organizing in La Cortada Wichi Community, Argentina

    Accompanied by members of "The Southern Cross Arts and Crafts House" from the province of Buenos Aires, La Cortada built a community centre which, using art as a tool for social transformation, provides workshops to some 150 children and young people living in this marginalized community in Rivadavia Banda Norte, Salta, Argentina. This project will support the construction of sanitation facilities for the community centre enabling both teachers and workshop participants work in more dignified surroundings and more broadly to strengthen community organizing processes and promote greater recognition of human rights.

    Native Voices, Argentina

    “Voices Network” is made up of journalists and representatives of NGOS and indigenous communities in the provinces of Salta and Jujuy, Argentina, who have been working together for many years on community radio projects. Radio continues to be an important source of information in communities and is usually run by local people who understand and are familiar with the needs and interests of the community. Through this small project the group will develop a series of radio and MP3 programmes focused on reaffirming the cultural values and rights of indigenous people in this region, the Guarani and Wichi in particular. The aim is to strengthen knowledge of rights by marginalized and excluded groups and generate a sense of pride in these ancestral cultures.

    1st Indigenous People´s of Argentina Summit, 25-27 May 2015

    QO.PI.WI.NI- an organization composed of four indigenous ethnicities -Qom, Pilagá, Wichi and Nevaclé organization – from the province of Formosa in the Argentine Chaco convened this summit which brought together 25 indigenous people from 17 provinces of Argentina. Since 14 March 2015 representatives of QO.PI.WI.NI have been camping on the main avenue of the city of Buenos Aires to demand a meeting with the government to demand access to water, education, health, fulfillment of indigenous rights and the return of their territories. To date none of the three pillars of government has agreed to meet them.

    During the summit groups discussed ways to unite to confront the discrimination, persecution and eviction from their ancestral territories that they suffer and agree on ways of working together to strengthen their cultural identity and indigenous values. The Ecumenical Small Projects Fund supported travel to Buenos Aires and accommodation costs of leaders from the Argentinean Chaco during the summit.


    Strengthening of women´s social leadership creation of economic, social and political advocacy network in Mariscal Estigaribia, Paraguay

    Mariscal Estigarribia is a small town of some 2500 inhabitants in the department of Boqueron in the Paraguayan Chaco. There are few community-based groups and even fewer women´s groups. In February 2015 a group of women traders began to meet to discuss issues such as low product sales, the poor condition of the streets as a key impediment to sales, the closure and transfer of banks to another city 120 km away. They also discussed ways to strengthen ways of working together to learn more about each others enterprises and identify strategies that promote competition and improve productivity.

    This project aims to empower this group of women and strengthen their ability to be leaders in the community through workshops, information and meetings with local and regional government representatives to discuss issues of concern identified by the women.

    Strengthening the capacity of the Genesis Cooperative, Remansito, Villa Hayes, Paraguay

    This group started with 19 residents of the community of Remansito that came together to carry out a 5 month community project to clean up and improve public spaces and develop a campaign on caring for the environment. Following this they began to consider ways of becoming a more structured group and in July 2014 they officially became a cooperative and registered with the National Institute of Cooperatives of Paraguay. Today it consists of 40 members and hopes to reach 70 by the end of the year.

    With the support of the Fundamentos Foundation this project will strengthen the organizational capacity of the cooperative and support them to develop solidarity actions such as financial loans, community research and advocacy actions to influence local government policy.

    Training women in Santa Clara, Jujuy, Argentina

    This project contributes to the training of women of different ages who are membres of the Association of Women Artisans of Santa Clara through workshops and the creation of spaces for reflection and learning on topics such as gender based violence, self-esteem, sexual and reproductive health, family planning, youth violence, as well as skills training workshops on weaving, canning, pickles and sweet and recycling. These workshops aim to improve the quality of the products made by the women and through the development of higher quality products, contribute to improved income generation and the strengthening the women´s self-esteem. They also aim to create a space for recreation and mutual support for the women.

    Supported Projects

    The fund is a joint initiative of:

    Regional Ecumenical Advisory and Service (CREAS),

    CREAS is an organization of Christian professionals working to accompany and strengthen the capacity of the ecumenical movement, churches and social organizations to promote civil, political, economic, social, cultural and environmental human rights. It does this through advisory, coordination, communication and training activities throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

    Church World Service (CWS),

    Created in 1946 CWS is a global humanitarian agency supported by 37 U.S. Protestant, Orthodox and Anglican churches that works with local partners all over the world to eradicate poverty and promote peace and justice. The Latin America Regional office of CWS and its partners in Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay have been working together since 1990 to strengthen the capacity of groups of indigenous men and women in the South American Chaco recover their ancestral lands and develop sustainable livelihoods.

    Both are members of ,

    Our work in favour of peace and justice in the South American Chaco region is made possible thanks to the support of:

    Contact details:
    Camacuá 238 - (1406) Buenos Aires - Argentina
    Phone/Fax: (54 11) 4631-8516 / 4633-0833

    The fund is audited externally by Gran Thornton.
Design: Moquo