Since 1994, 9 August is the International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples. The United Nations proclaimed 2019 “International Year of Indigenous Languages” to raise awareness on the risks facing these languages which continue to disappear every year at an alarming rate. They are crucial in the area of human rights protection, sustainable development and peace building, through ensuring cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue.
There are an estimated 370 million indigenous people in the world, living across 90 countries. They make up less than 5 per cent of the world’s population, but account for 15 per cent of the poorest.
Indigenous peoples are inheritors and practitioners of unique cultures and ways of relating to people and the environment. They have retained social, cultural, economic and political characteristics that are distinct from those of the dominant societies in which they live. Despite their cultural differences, indigenous peoples from around the world share common problems related to the protection of their rights.
Indigenous peoples have sought recognition of their identities, way of life and their right to traditional lands, territories and natural resources for years, yet throughout history their rights have always been violated. Indigenous peoples today, are arguably among the most disadvantaged and vulnerable groups of people in the world. For this reason the international community now recognizes that special measures are required to protect their rights and maintain their distinct cultures and way of life.
Also Kito works with a special care to the indigenous people of the Philippines and their rights: on Mindoro Island, where the new project to build pit latrines in 13 elementary schools is starting, 60% of the population is Mangyan, meaning that they are part of the indigenous tribes traditionally living on the island in conditions of great poverty. Kito’s project aims at giving access to basic hygiene to more than 1800 children, mainly Mangyan, and improving the health conditions of their families and communities.