Funerals of children are heart-breaking. In particular, if they lost their lives as victims of malnutrition. This has happened to dozens of families in Dourados over the past years. Dourados is a totally overpopulated indigenous reservation in the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul. The reason for the overpopulation is the continuing encroachment by soy farmers and agribusiness on the few remaining indigenous lands in the state. The displaced families move to the reservation which has long become too small. Meanwhile 11000 of the 32000 Kaiowá in the state try to survive in Dourados. More than 600 Kaiowá children suffer malnutrition – in Dourados and elsewhere in the state.
The Kaiowá live on agriculture, hunting and gathering. Lack of land means hunger and malnutrition. Wherever the Kaiowá can plant, malnutrition decreases. In recent years, the number of deaths from malnutrition in Dourados would have been even higher had the state not supplied food baskets. Mato Grosso do Sul discontinued this programme in early 2007. After an upsurge in malnutrition-related deaths, the federal government stepped in providing food. What the Kaiowa need, however, is more than that: They need some of their land back as soon as possible – as depression, alcoholism and tensions among them are spreading. A lot of effort will be necessary to force the powerful local landlords, firms and politicians to retreat. The Kaiowá urgently need allies so that their children have a future.
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