The Rich Coast Project serves the coastal communities of southern Caribbean Costa Rica between Cahuita and Manzanillo. This region is inhabited by the descendants of Afro-Caribbean settlers, as well as indigenous Bribri and Cabecar tribes and multiethnic mix of new and long-term migrants from all over the world.


Our primary service population is the Afro-descendant community of coastal Talamanca, as they are the historic inhabitants of the coastal zone and an ethnic minority with significant development and access to justice challenges.

Afro-Caribbean residents of Caribe Sur have suffered the inequalities of globalization with particular force. Considered an "invisible" community by the United Nations, structural inequalities often determine their ability to pursue dignified livelihoods and enjoy their right to self-determination. In Caribe Sur, inequality is increasing, cultural traditions are at risk of extinction, and the precarious state of land ownership has rendered meaningful local development illusory. Unfortunately, the Costa Rican government's approach to regulation of coastal and forest areas has left many locals feeling as though "the monkeys and turtles have more rights" than the humans.
Afro-descendants throughout Latin America face challenges similar to those encountered in Caribe Sur, and ethnic and racial discrimination remain enormous barriers to the advancement of human rights in the region. Afro-Caribbeans are especially burdened by a history of geographic, political and social marginalization. Traditional international legal mechanisms for the protection of human rights not only function at a sluggish pace, they are also slow to adapt to emerging problems. Moreover, the intersection of land and minority rights exists at the frontier of international law, and local communities are not well poised to play a meaningful role in conversations that directly impact their interests.

iu painting.jpg

The Rich Coast Project also serves students and volunteers from the United States through the RCP Volunteers Program.

Our team coordinates interdisciplinary service learning opportunities in collaboration with U.S. Universities and professionals that facilitate cross-cultural knowledge sharing, the collection of local stories through participatory community-based projects, and the production of multimedia archival content for the South Caribe Roots Archive.

We have worked with students from Northeastern Law School, Santa Clara Law School, and the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, as well as assorted short-term professional volunteers from various fields. This year we will also partner with the IU Media School and a group of Women Executives to develop service-learning trips that further our mission and objectives.