Our story

The Terra Nuova group was set up within the Salesian community, with a strong focus on and link to the liberation movements of Latin America and Africa.

In 1972 Terra Nuova became an independent association and, as it had already expanded its initial remit for the previous two years, was accredited by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs as an NGO that could carry out international development projects, train volunteers and provide information on the so-called Third World.

In 1973 Terra Nuova began its operational work in Ecuador (that continued uninterrupted until 2010). In 1975 an office and an initial project were started up in Kenya, a country in which we are still operational today. Similarly, in 1978 our first project opened in Peru, in the Amazon area of Yurimaguas; TN has been present continuously in that country ever since.

The Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua enabled us to work on reconstruction in that country; in 1982 TN started up its first project there, laying the foundations for the reform of the Nicaraguan psychiatric system, promoting dialogue with Italian practitioners from within the tradition of Basaglia. Terra Nuova has been continuously active in Nicaragua ever since.

In 1982 Terra Nuova began work in Mali with an anthropological research project on traditional medicine in Kolokani.

In 1988, Terra Nuova began to produce a monthly newsletter, a space for debate and discussion in the NGO sector called 'Terra Nuova Forum' which came out regularly until 1993.

In September 1984 TN, along with the organisations Cendok and Tandem, organised a conference in Bolzano called 'The Third World and us - North South: interdependence and cooperation', with the active participation of Alex Langer.

From 1987 to 1991, two multiannual projects were carried out in the Dominican Republic. One of these was multi-sectoral, based in the region of Cibao in which community trainers worked with mostly Haitian workers, and the other focussed on communication and social action with the largest feminist centre in the country.

In 1988 a training programme was set up to train indigenous primary school teachers in the Peruvian Amazon, with an intercultural, bilingual educational approach. This project went ahead for 10 years and led the Peruvian state to take over the original approach, in a scheme that was jointly managed with indigenous organisations, and the establishment of the EIB at the primary teacher training college in Iquitos.

In 1988 Terra Nuova began to work with craftsmen in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya, thanks to its partnership with the Undugu Society of Kenya. This work was to continue in subsequent years with other partners, until the MAE Jua Kali project was concluded in July 2009.

In 1989 Terra Nuova staged its first operations in Brazil: an important project to support integrated rural development in the semiarid landscape of the Piauí region. The last project to be carried out in this country was a scheme to support the cooperative movement in the Bahia region in 2005.

The first project in Chile was started not long after the country began to transition to a democracy. TN's first operations, from 1990 onwards, were to support the activities of the La Morada feminist centre and to strengthen a trade union of small-scale fishermen, CONAPACH. TN worked in this country until 2011.

From 1992 until 2005 TN was operational in Argentina, particularly in the area of promoting human rights, alongside the organisation Servicio Paz y Justicia, founded by Nobel prizewinner Perez Esquivel.

In 1993 we opened a project for street children in Uganda, which concluded in 1997; over the same period we worked in Nicaragua and Guatemala with street children and youth (including child labour and teenagers living on the streets). In Guatamala from 1999 to 2004 we supported an organisation working with street youth called MOJOCA – Movimiento Jovenes de la Calle.

In 1994 we arrived in Somalia, where work continues to this day in an extremely challenging context. Most of the work done in Somalia focuses on livestock farmers, improving livestock rearing (veterinary prevention and check-ups, improving practices) and meat processing / marketing.

Following the Decree of 4th December 1997, n.460, Terra Nuova acquired the legal status of 'Not-for-profit Social Organisation'.

In Italy we began a two year project in collaboration with Italia Nostra and CRIC. The first part was called 'Environment explorers – processes of education on sustainable development', and ran in 2000, and the second, 'Environment explorers – Experiences in the North and the South: young people's ideas' ran in 2001.

Also in 2000, we initiated a project called 'Slaves or Children – information and awareness-raising project to fight child prostitution, pornography and sex trafficking' to support the activities of the recently launched Ecpat Italia, created with the support of the Province of Rome.

We were aware of a need for qualified staff in the field of livestock rearing in Somalia, and so in 2002 Terra Nuova established a veterinary school there, thanks to AU-IBAR. In later years the school grew in size and scope, and was adopted by IGAD as one of its regional institutions (2012), renamed the 'IGAD Sheikh Technical Veterinary School'.

In 2007, continuing on from the work carried out with street craftsmen, in Nairobi (Kenya) we established a training and support project for craft micro-enterprises that gather and work scrap metal – through the 'Jua Kali' project we assisted some craftsmen in creating high quality craft pieces.

In 2007 we began a project that worked directly with secondary schools in the Province of Rome, called 'Memory and Rights: promotion of and training in human rights and justice in secondary schools in the Province of Rome'. That year was the beginning of our cooperation with the region of Liguria in northern Italy and with associations from the same region, to support peasant organisations in Togo.

In November 2004 we began an important training, information and advocacy project, in partnership with African and European peasant networks, called EuropAfrica. Thanks to EuropAfrica, numerous studies, analytical reports and discussions were carried out to consider EU policy and its impact on African agriculture; territorial partnerships were set up and best practice was exchanged between farmers and other sectors of Italian and European civil society. Under the slogan 'Africa can feed itself', EuropAfrica focused attention on African family farming as a driving force behind food sovereignty and security in the region, and helped its representatives participate in high-level international congresses. In 2009, as the result of the lengthy work by global civil society (including TN), the FAO approved the reform of the Committee on World Food Security.

In Nicaragua in January 2008 a three year project was started to fight HIV-AIDS through social mobilisation; this project developed contacts that led us, in 2014, to create a project promoting LGBTI rights in Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

At the end of 2009 and the beginning of 2010, a brief but effective campaign was run in Honduras, to guarantee access to drinking water for the rural population in three municipalities.

Over this period, Terra Nuova has been the secretariat for the 'International Campaign for Food, Agriculture and Rural Development Aid to Eradicate Hunger and Poverty – More and Better'.

At the beginning of 2009, Terra Nuova expanded its work in the informal sector in Kenya, shifting its attention to the production of fuel from organic waste, thereby improving livelihoods within the population, creating jobs (for women, in particular) and respecting the environment. In Somalia we continue to work with our established partners to build local capacity to mobilise and use the knowledge gained from livestock rearing research, and to build capacity in the public and private sectors to improve the sales and safety of animal products.

In 2012 we produced a summary, in Italian, of a longer study on the subject of biofuels -'(Bio)fuelling injustice'-; the leaflet was distributed as a supplement to the magazine 'Altreconomia' with the title 'Food in your engine. From biofuels policies in Europe to food insecurity in Africa'. On the same subject and in the same year we produced the documentary 'Terra Bruciata' ('Burnt land').