Waorani Case Study

The Waorani people live in the heart of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Five years ago they started to make a territory map, part of a strategy to defend their lands, all the material and non-material resources that live within it, and the futures of their children from the impacts of new oil developments. The Waorani mapping team, working with Alianza Ceibo and Amazon Frontlines, tried a variety of existing mapping applications, but none of these were a good fit for the offline environment and highly collaborative workflow the Waorani villagers demanded. They partnered with Digital Democracy in the early stages of Mapeo development, and have been using Mapeo and contributing to its design since 2015.

The Waorani mapping process:

At the end of 2018 the Waorani team had made maps with 18 out of 52 villages, and in 2019 is focusing on the legal campaign to keep the Pastaza area free of oil and deepening the storytelling nature of the maps by adding more layers of cultural and historical information. The mapping work has brought a huge amount of territorial information to light, facilitating dialogue between older and younger generations who, due to current schooling methods, no longer spend the time together in the forest that they used to. The mapping has also created a space for communities to discuss the impacts of living in settled communities, and has built solidarity between communities on common threats to territory and built unity to defend it.