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  • Writer's pictureKay Sandberg

Ikiama Nukuri: Women as Keepers of the Forest (Ecuadorian Amazon)



Achuar leader and CHW Isabel Wisum of Pumpuentsa

Since 2013, our partner Ikiama Nukuri CHWs (Community Health Workers) have assisted about 3,500 births. With the success of Ikiama Nukuri (Women as Guardians of the Forest) Community Health Workers in preventing maternal & infant death, women's status in community decision making and economic stature have risen.


In addition to providing essential health perinatal services, women are speaking up and being elected to positions in local community governments, unheard of just seven years ago! A case in point: Isabel Wisum (pictured above), one of the original birth-workers trained by Ikiama Nukuri. Against tradition, Isabel became the first woman elected as vice president of the NAE (Achuar Nationality of Ecuador). She started her journey as a volunteer and worked her way up to vice president, a position she held for three years. In addition, she has served over 300 births since 2008 when she became a CHW.


Celebrating completion of advanced workshop May 2022

Currently the program has 88 maternal health promoters in the Achuar and neighboring Shuar territories of the Amazon rainforest. CHWs serve 100% of small, remote communities and a total population of 5,000 Achuar. Trained Shuar CHWs serve 50% of their communities with a total population of 8,000. The program aims to expand to all Shuar villages in 2023.


Refreshing and building skills (May 2022 workshop)

Ikiama Nukuri's mission is to increase the number of continuing education workshops for all 88 Community Health Workers, to integrate Indigenous birthing traditions and western midwifery. Recurring workshops help to maintain their abilities and empower participants to keep their essential role in male-dominated communities. Ikiama Nukuri (formerly "Jungle Mamas") is an original partner of our Compassionate Birth Network.


Veronica Junkar, long-time Ikiama Nukuri CHW

To donate to this lifesaving work and support the education of Amazon birth-workers:

Thank you; Makete!


This blog is based on Ikiama Nukuri's recently published May 2022 workshop report.



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