Fellow Since 2006
Instituto Río Negro
This profile was prepared when Aler Donadío was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2006.
The New Idea
In the poorest rural communities of Uruguay, Aler promotes sustainable farming and fishing practices that boost rural incomes and protect the environment. He fosters communication between farmers, fishermen, and other rural workers whose livelihoods are threatened by environmental damage and large-scale farming. This network provides a platform for the exchange of ideas, techniques, and knowledge, allowing each individual to benefit from collaboration. Most importantly, participants learn how much they depend on the same resources—and therefore on each other—in order to continue making a living. For example, Aler has made personal connections between fishermen and soy bean farmers to reduce the heavy use of pesticides during fishing season.Aler also runs several on-the-ground programs to teach rural producers practical skills that will improve their output. Participants learn about markets, sustainable agriculture, new niche crops, technological improvements, and how to bring about public policy reform. Though his work has been primarily focused in the Rio Negro River Basin, where he has directly impacted 12,000 people, Aler is expanding to reach rural communities in Argentina, Brazil, and Venezuela.By joining together and training rural producers, Aler encourages the adoption of the best environmental practices in Uruguay and beyond. He has influenced public policy to protect water resources and shaped attitudes at the local level to encourage farmers and fishermen to fight for their shared resources together. He has also had broad impact through partnerships with public and private organizations at the national and international levels, such as Uruguay’s National Agricultural Research Institute and the Latin American Network on Rural Development.