Gaia Pacha Foundation - Environmental research, education and engineering
Gaia Pacha is a charitable foundation based in Cochabamba/Bolivia, which has been founded in 2006 by 14 young graduates of environmental engineering. They see their task in researching the fragile interaction between man and nature in order to develop sustainable techniques and technologies which suit the needs of the Bolivian society in an environmentally-friendly way.
Since 2008, Bolivian and foreign students and professionals are being integrated into the teams as interns and volunteers; within the first 4 years, Gaia Pacha could host 41 foreign and 77 Bolivian interns and volunteers. They are particularly participating in the subject areas of environmental education and research.
The foundation’s environmental education has the overall aim to inform and sensitize people about environmental topics in order to empower them to make better decisions and in the best case change their behaviour towards the environment in a positive way.
The foundation’s research has the general aim to apply scientific methods and techniques from natural and social sciences to find conclusions that can be implemented as feasible practical solutions for the environment and society of Bolivia. The focus of research is on climate change and the evaluation of the socioeconomic impact and ecology of agricultural practices.
For environmental education, Gaia Pache is active at location such as schools, community centres, cultural centres etc. Interns/volunteers in this subject area support or direct activities such as workshops, trade show participations, campaigns and lectures. They collect materials about techniques of environmental education, develop methods and produce educational materials.
For educational materials they develop the contents and the way of presentation/design, for instance brochures, leaflets, blogs and websites.
Gaia Pacha can make use of weekly air time on the alternative radio channel “Lachiwana”. Volunteers and interns research about environmental topics which are of recent interest in Cochambamba and Bolivia and elaborate contents to be included in the program “Lachiwana Verde”.
A campaing of environmental education that Gaia Pacha has been carrying out three times per year since 2006 is the “Pedestrian day”, including creative activities for children and adults. Every day another topic is being addressed, such as the environmental problems of the Madidi National Park, the perception of climate change by the rural population of Bolivia, or product recycling.
The campain “Manzanas Verdes” is informing about topics such as saving energy, water and solid waste in cooperation with the 4 cultural centres of Cochabamba, where artistic activities about the topics are being performed, films being screened, and public spaces are being cleaned from rubbish.
Gaia Pacha is further addressing secondary school students, training them to become environmental leaders. 10 groups of environmental leaders have been trained since 2011, and projects have been developed with them how they can carry out environmental projects within their school and communities.
The typical working hours for environmental education are Monday to Friday from 9am to 4 pm; around 40% of the actiities are at the offices of Gaia Pacha and 60% field work.
It is expected from volunteers and interns to be seriously interested in the topic, to have the will to learn something, to be proactive and enthusiastic. They should have an intermediate level of Spanish language. For development of environmental contents they should have relevant knowledge by means of related university studies or which have been acquired in any other way; for graphic design/web development etc., environmental knowledge is not necessarily required. The minimum duration is 3 months.
In environmental research, Gaia Pacha is cooperating with organizations such as Hábitat Para La Humanidad Bolivia, the faculty of forestry of the Universidad Mayor de San Simón (UMSA), the centre for students of environmental engineering sciences of the Catholic University of Bolivia (UCB), and with the Cordillera University. New research topics are regularly being developed in cooperation with these partners.
Research volunteers and interns participate in the research work, both in secondary research (literature analysis) and primary research, writing reports.
One subject area is climate change. Gaia Pacha has researched the perception of climate change in 43 communities in 5 departments of Bolivia, and as a result has published the documentary „The weather is getting tired“ (El tiempo se está cansando). A further research project which was carried out in 2011 included the evaluation of the public guidelines for the prevention and mitigation of climate change. This was done in three Bolivian cities. A recent project is about the creation of a timeline showing changes of temperatures over the history of Bolivia.
Research interns and volunteers are typically students of geology, biology, and international politics about climate change and development. They should stay for at least one month and should have a minimum age of 23 years.
A further subject area of Gaia Pacha’s research are socio-economic impact studies of agricultural practices.
So far, Gaia Pacha has researched the impact of the quinoa production in Colchak'a Oruro. The recent research project is looking into the socio-economic and ecological aspects of the soya production in Santa Cruz. This includes an evaluation of soil and water qualities, the efficiency of the technologies being used and the impact of soya cultivation on the local biodiversity.
Interns/volunteers for this kind of research should stay for at least one month, should speak Spanish or English, should be seriously interested, have at least 23 years, and should have knowledge in SIG and/or biology and/or economy and/or water and soil analysis.
Location: Cochabamba, Bolivia
Duration: See text
Special qualifications needed: related subject of studies or experiences
Costs: Trouble-free package is optional
Accommodation: Not included
Meals: Not included
Included: Placement in the project; if you opt for the trouble-free package the whole range of services which is part of the trouble-free package is included
Not included: Travel to Bolivia, health insurance, visa
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