Building a Brighter Future for Perica: Sustainable Tourism for Suriname's Indigenous Peoples

Building a Brighter Future for Perica: Sustainable Tourism for Suriname's Indigenous Peoples

Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
< $1,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

The Perica is a tributary to the Cottica River in the northern part of Suriname with a latitude of 5° 51' 00" N and a longitude of 54° 43' 00" W. In recent decades, the river and its inhabitants have been victims to a tumultuous war resulting in a precarious economic and environmental situation for its indigenous inhabitants. The project proposes to reach out to the people of Perica to provide them with education and capacity development to showcase and highlight their natural resources in order to benefit economically from local tourism. It will also empower the local community to preserve their natural environment, which plays an important economic and cultural role. The proposed project seeks to enhance the development of the residents of Perica and its Environs to include wildlife habitat for fish, birds and other organisms by:

1) development of sustainable local tourism and livelihood opportunities for inhabitants of the areas
2) increase knowledge and awareness of the importance of mangrove and waterways ecosystems and bird life in Perica through exposure to their ecology, history, and economic and cultural importance

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The Perica has endured a tumultuous past and suffers from being located in a remote part of the country, lacking resources to promote economic and social growth. Many residents lack opportunities to earn a decent wage, and rely heavily on the natural environment to provide their daily bread. This in turn has created a situation where there is chronic degradation of the natural environment. The interior of Suriname is noted for its rich biodiversity, including 118 species of birds, mangroves, wildlife animals and many types of trees including the mahogany, pine, and cedar trees. Unfortunately, due to the recent war in the region and precarious economic situation, the habitat for such living creatures has suffered. The mangroves, which provide valuable habitat and breeding grounds for the bird species and aquatic life in the river, are being cut for use as firewood and charcoal. This loss of habitat, should it continue, will create serious problems such as erosion for the immediate area of Perica, and downstream, as forest removal will inevitably result in sedimentation downstream. Socially, the area suffered alot too due to persons being driven out of their homes during the war.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The concept of bringing together civil society and local stakeholders to steer a sustainable tourism initiative in Suriname is a new idea to the region. In the past, the indigenous people living in the interior of the country have had little opportunity to develop capacity to be stewards of their own lands and future. With this project will come a release from this dependence from traditional unsustainable environmental practices and a sense of ownership of the tourism product which they will be selling. Currently, tourism in Suriname is underdeveloped and is primarily restricted to foreign investors and locals with well established businesses. There is little opportunity for locals and indigenous people to make a significant income from tourism, and at the same time there is little awareness of the importance of stewardship of the natural environment in the area. Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) will be used in the project (Coady International Institute, St. Francis Xavier University). This concept is based on the idea that instead of relying on what the community does not have or needs in order to grow, the focus will be shifted on what the community does have to offer. In the case of the Perica, this includes its abundant biodiversity, its unique customs and heritage and its rich history. Through the ABCD theory, we will be: 1. Collecting stories 2. Organising a core group 3. Mapping the capacities and assets of individuals, associations and local institutions and evaluating and prioritizing outstanding attractions and stories in Perica (natural, cultural and historical) 4. Building a community vision and plan that will define visitor experiences and messages and identify local products that provide a unique experience and opportunities for interaction between the tourist and the community. 5. Mobilising and linking assets for economic development 6. Leveraging activities, investments and resources from outside the c
About You
Section 1: About You
First Name


Last Name





, PM

Section 2: About Your Organization
Organization Name


Organization Phone


Organization Address


Organization Country

, PM

Your idea
Country your work focuses on

, MA

Website URL
Would you like to participate in the MIF Opportunity 2010?


Do you have a patent for this idea?

What impact have you had on your clients and the tourism sector?

1. Bring the Perica community together by holding stakeholder meetings to incite discussion and interest in sustainable tourism.
2. Hold various participatory workshops with stakeholders to do the following:
a. Identify key areas along the Perica that would be suitable for tourism development
b. Identify key stories of historical importance and interest that would be conveyed to tourists
c. Identify sustainable sources of income related to tourism – tour guiding, bird watching, craft making, river excursions, etc.
5. Educate the local community about the importance of environmental stewardship, including mangrove and river ecosystems and land based resources which will incite the slowing of environmental degradation in the area.
7. Seek out a pro bono environmental consultant to formulate a draft restoration plan for the physical restoration of the river system.
8. Train local residents in the sustainable tourism related activities adopted in the first workshops, as well as in small business management and customer service.
9. Have sustainable tourism businesses up and running by the beginning of the 3rd year


The results in the first three years of the project will mainly be in the form of capacity development and training and include the following:
1. Awareness and appreciation of the links between the environment and sustainable livelihoods and the importance of using our natural resources wisely is increased among the general public,stakeholders, government officials and politicians
2. Residents trained in environmental education and practical skills related to the sustainable tourism
3. Decline or cessation of degradation of the natural habitat surrounding the Perica
4. Four training workshops, including customer service, small business management, tour guiding, and handicrafts production.
5. Increased capacity for Perica residents to manage small tourism related business
6. Increased income for the residents of the Perica from sustainable tourism related activities

What will it take for your project to be successful over the next three years? Please address each year separately, if possible.

Year 1: Participatory Planning Workshops: in an effort to open a dialogue amongst a broad range of stakeholders. The main objective of these workshops will be to determine the Surinamese community’s vision for sustainable use of the Perica River, assessing the feasibility of different options, and developing a plan to pursue the vision. The plan would directly benefit a number of fish and bird species while addressing the river’s main conservation needs, including removal of impediments to natural hydrologic flow, improvement of habitats and re-establishment of flora and fauna, as well as the community’s need for sustainable economic development opportunities (e.g. ecotourism). A wide range of stakeholders (local NGOs, government, fishing community, businesses, residents, etc.) will be invited to participate in the planning process and share their views. Additionally, experts such as marine, wetland, and coral reef restoration ecologists, ornithologists, marine engineers, and sustainable tourism experts will provide assessments and expert advice to help guide the restoration planning.

Year 2: Increase awareness of the importance of mangrove and river ecosystems in Perica—their ecology, history, and economic and cultural importance, and increase knowledge and appreciation of Perica’s fish and bird life. Activities under this phase include but are not limited to:
• Dissemination of an educational brochure/fact sheet on the story of Perica
• Preparation and publication of article(s) on the Perica River restoration project in the local newspapers
• Establishment of a Perica River Restoration Project website with updates, materials and information
• Conducting interviews on local radio and writing press releases for newspapers about the project; invite the community to be involved in the restoration work and other activities
• Continuation of local celebrations of World Wetlands Day and International Coastal Clean-up Day

Year 3: Develop sustainable local tourism and livelihood opportunities for local people. Our approach will be to facilitate the creation of a community vision and overall strategic plan following some key principles and guidelines. Developing a marketing plan, building infrastructure, rehabilitating tourist attractions, training guides and developing a Perica Watchable Wildlife River with a renewal theme.

What would prevent your project from being a success?

Lack of stakeholder buy in would be a road block to the completion of this project, as it is imperative that the community in the Perica sees the local benefits of this project. Should they not, there is the risk that the project could be sabotaged. In order to avoid this, a participatory approach in all stages of planning and implementation will be taken.

As the Perica is in a remote area it is difficult to draw and keep highly qualified personnel to a project such as this as well as to attract appropriately qualified people to conduct training workshops.

How many people will your project serve annually?


What is the average monthly household income in your target community, in US Dollars?

$100 ‐ 1000

Does your project seek to have an impact on public policy or introduce models and tools that benefit the tourism sector in general?


What stage is your project in?

Idea phase

In what country?

, MA

Is your initiative connected to an established organization?


If yes, provide organization name.

Association for Development of Perica

How long has this organization been operating?

More than 5 years

Does your organization have a Board of Directors or an Advisory Board?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with NGOs?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with businesses?


Does your organization have any non-monetary partnerships with government?


Please tell us more about how these partnerships are critical to the success of your innovation.

There are a number of active Non Governmental Oorganizations and Community Based Oorganizations in Suriname that work on various environmental, economic and social problems, including the Association for Development of Perica, Conservation International Suriname and, World Wildlife Foundation Guianas. These organizations will be contacted at different stages throughout the course of the project to collaborate efforts and resources for the development of a better Perica.
Additionally, the project will be implemented in consultation with an active involvement of the relevant Government ministries and departments that have an interest in and jurisdiction over the resource, including the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries, the Ministry of Tourism, Communication and Transport and the Ministry of Health and Environment. We will present plans for sustainable-use options for the river and its immediate environ, highlighting the importance and effects of conservation and preservation of the natural environment, the jobs and other economic benefits to be derived from the project.

What are the three most important actions needed to grow your initiative or organization?

1. Registering name of organization
2. Research and investigation
3. Establishing official presence (office space)

The Story
What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?

Following a war that occurred from the year 1986-1991 in the Perica region, the Association for Development of Perica started in the year 1999 with an aim to rebuild Perica. Perica was one of the main areas that was destructed because of its strategic location; providing the use of its connecting East-West waterways. During that time many people left the area because the jungle commando group was very destructive towards the society, raping women and killing their husbands and driving everyone out of their homes. Even till a few years ago, the main street was still full of holes made by dynamites from the war planted by the commando’s ambushers from the swamps and bushes in the area. The Perica River obtains its water from the swamps in the surrounding areas and runs into the Cottica River. In the past Perica was only able to be reached by waterway, but then the Government saw it necessary to construct roads from Suriname’s capital, Paramaribo to the District Albina, crossing through the Perica region. Only recently, a few people returned to their homes. Currently the population is approximately 400 with their income relying mainly on fishing from the Perica River and surrounding creeks, agriculture and hunting.

Tell us about the social innovator behind this idea.

Traditional livelihoods in Perica rely on a healthy, functioning ecosystem. The natural beauty and rich biodiversity of the Perica River area offers additional opportunities for many non-consumptive uses (eg. bird/nature and cultural heritage tourism, low impact recreational activities, etc). Participation in the restoration process by stakeholders that are committed to the wise and sustainable use of their natural resources will help ensure the success of this project. Development of sustainable tourism and livelihood activities that provide jobs and other benefits for the community will lead to long-term conservation. There are many active community groups and organizations in Suriname that see an urgent need to clean up the environment, use resources wisely, and develop skills that will enable them to manage the country and benefit economically from a well-planned tourism strategy.

How did you first hear about Changemakers?

Through another organization or company

If through another, please provide the name of the organization or company

Inter-American Development Bank

MIF Opportunity 2010
Has your organization been legally constituted or registered in your country or one of your target countries for at least three years?

Does the applicant organization have sufficient financial resources to guarantee the co-financing required by MIF during the execution period of the project? (This amounts to at least 50% of the project’s total budget with 25% in cash and 25% in-kind.)


Does the applicant organization have experience managing projects co-financed by international organizations? Please describe below

Two members of the team have been involved directly in the development, implementation, monitoring and evaluationng of participatory projects funded and co financed by international organizations such as the Lighthouse Foundation, NOAA, GCFI, SCSCB, NFWF through employment with the Sustainable Grenadines Project, University of the West Indies. The Sustainable Grenadines Project's main focus was conservation of coastal and marine environment. (see website:

Please classify the applicant organization according to the options below

Non registered Organization

What problem-area does your project address?

Access to knowledge and training.

How will your project address this problem?

The project seeks to educate, build capacity and develop sustainable alternative livelihoods for the Perica population. This will be achieved through workshops and training sessions, as persons in the area will be made more aware of different approaches that can be taken to earn a living without having to degrade the environment by over-use of resources.

Who is benefited by the initiative? (Please highlight the type and number of beneficiaries, and their role in the tourism value-chain.)

There are approximately four hundred indigenous persons in the Perica region located in the Disrtict Marowijne to the North-East coast of Suriname in South America who will benefit from this initiative. Their main source of income is fishing and hunting from the already depleted resources provided by the Perica River and surrounding areas. If they are educated on the conservation and preservation of the environment, the different approaches to alternative livelihoods and restoration and development of the Perica area, they will be able to adequately provide for their families while contributing to the economic development of the area and the country as a whole.

How will the project's results assist the region’s tourism sector and micro, small and medium-sized enterprises?

Longer-term strategies for education, outreach, and the promotion of stewardship will be based upon development of sustainable tourism and livelihood employment opportunities. Our approach will be to facilitate the creation of a community vision and overall strategic plan following some key principles and guidelines covered in the workshop. Developing a marketing plan, building infrastructure, creating interpretive materials, rehabilitating tourist attractions, training guides and small business owners, developing a Perica Watchable Wildlife River with a renewal theme, and creating a natural heritage trail in the area are a few of the actions that could provide employment as well as highlight and conserve the unique beauty, natural history, fisheries, bird life, and culture of Perica.

A. Total Budget (100%)


B. MIF Contribution (up to 50% of total budget and US$. 500.000 max)


C. Cash co-financing (at least 25% of total budget)


D. In kind co-financing (at least 25% of total budget)