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Frontier of Life – Tayak Project – Sarayaku Community (Ecuador)



For over 20 years, the Quechua people of Sarayaku has been leading a combat against the destruction of its territory and culture by oil companies. Its resistance has become something emblematic for all of Ecuador.

So as to preserve their way of life, the Sarayaku community established the “Tayak Plan”. This is a 10 to 20 year plan dedicated to maintaining Quechua people in their territory and to preserving their biodiversity and associated knowledge and traditions.

Since 2006, we have been supporting the “Sasi Wasi” programme which consists in creating a traditional medical centre built according to Quechua architectural principles.

This project promotes indigenous medicine based on treating diseases with plants and traditional methods and reinforces the dissemination of this knowledge thanks to training programmes and exchange programmes between traditional doctors.

The other three programmes of the project consist in delimitating territory through a “Path of Flowers” (Sisa Nampi), creating a garden (Sacha runa) and building schools to disseminate indigenous knowledge (Tayak Wasi).
The first step to build the structure has already been accomplished. In 2008 and 2010, we renewed our support to the Sarayaku community, to equip the centre and create a garden of medicinal plants.

La première phase de construction de la structure ayant déjà été menée. En 2008 et 2010, France Libertés a renouvelé son soutien à la communauté de Sarayaku pour aménager ce centre, l’équiper, et de créer le jardin de plantes médicinales.


The Quechua community of Sarayaku which set up the autonomous indigenous organisation “ATAYAK” (Asociación de Yachaks de Sarayaku, whose president is José Gualinga) is our main partner on this project, along with the association “Paroles de Nature”.


The Frontier of Life project (Sisa nampi, Flowers Road) was launched in 2006 and is dedicated to showing that another development based on life in harmony or “Bien Vivir« , is possible and beneficial. The project consists in delimitating the ancestral Sarayaku territory with a canopy of flowers and visible from the sky, and developing Quechua culture and knowledge on biodiversity in a number of ways.

The main objectives of the Sasi Wasi programme have been reached. The ritual centre of treatment has been built, and the community can now disseminate its traditional knowledge that is at the core of their identity to the younger generations.

The inauguration took place in September 2010 and a repertory of all the medicinal plants in the botanic garden is being created. The Tayak plan is not yet finished and there still remains a lot to do to guarantee the Sarayakus’ rights over their territory.


Assessment & perspectives:

During José Gualinga’s last visit in France, we talked with him about new wealth indicators based on Bien Vivir principles.

So, this project really conveys and complies with this reflection on “real wealth”: the “Frontier of Life” project also aims at sensitising global public opinion to the need to find the road to universal Bien Vivir.

The discussion we had with José Gualinga opened new partnership perspectives for finding ways of transmitting the Sarayaku people’s universal messages within our western societies