Don’t cut support!

June 2002
Winfried Dallmann

The last years have seen a distinct increase in networking between indigenous peoples’ organisations in Russia. Information centres are being established within the country, and legal centres have been focusing on teaching and improving indigenous peoples’ rights. RAIPON is joining law projects and has gained an influence on relevant law proposals. Nonetheless, the average man, woman and child in the tundra or taiga has not yet seen much of a change. Degraded nature is not rehabilitated, food and medical services are still lacking, child mortality is increasing, and the huge problem of alcoholism is still there. There are a few exceptions, a few drops in the ocean, a few happier people, but they remain exceptions.

Improvements start at the top of the indigenous society and they will slowly approach the roots. And so it must be. Without building native institutions that can take care of indigenous issues, all efforts at lower levels would mostly have short-term results and then go up in smoke.

There is some support from the federal and regional governments here and there, and some from abroad. The majority of the people have not received much help. They are aware that they need to take their future into their own hands. Many are willing, trying, fighting. Only few of them can do something, because there is not enough support. Aid programmes are cut – or have never been implemented, domestic and foreign ones.

Half of the earth’s Arctic and Sub-Arctic belong to the Russian Federation. It takes time and money to rehabilitate half of the Arctic. One cannot expect radical changes within a few years.

So, please, don’t cut support programmes!
Improve them! Make more of them!