An Indigenous woman in Brasilia attends a demonstration in defense of Indigenous land and rights. Credit: Carl DE SOUZA / AFP

USAID's Indigenous Peoples Working Group

The USAID Indigenous Peoples Working Group is composed of technical experts across the Agency who have worked with Indigenous Peoples on best practices for working with USAID and addressing Indigenous Peoples’ disparate development needs. Our sectoral focus areas include democracy, human rights, and governance; land tenure; natural resource management; food security; education; economic growth; infrastructure; and others. We help ensure that USAID’s development strategies and programs respect Indigenous Peoples’ rights and that USAID works with Indigenous Peoples as partners toward the joint goals of improving the impact and sustainability of development.


Vy Lam

Advisor on Indigenous Peoples

Vy Lam is the Advisor on Indigenous Peoples in the Inclusive Development Hub at USAID's Bureau for Inclusive Growth, Partnerships, and Innovation. Vy supports the integration of human rights of Indigenous Peoples into USAID policies and programs. In the last eleven years, Vy has worked to promote the rights of marginalized communities (including Indigenous Peoples; Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex persons; survivors of trafficking; Indigenous Peoples; ) and has provided technical assistance to program design and implementation of regional and bilateral programs in Asia, Europe and Eurasia, Africa, and Latin America and the Caribbeans. Vy also contributes to reforming operations, conducting field research, and developing data and analytics to support the integration of marginalized communities across development sectors. Vy is an interdisciplinary scientist with a background in microbiome physiology, radio pathology, viral immunology, cardiovascular diseases, and tissue engineering. Vy received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, where he studied the dynamics of vesicular stomatitis replication and its induction of immunity.

Sandra Omayra Lazarte

Indigenous Peoples Program Specialist

Sandra Omayra Lazarte is the Indigenous Peoples Program Specialist for the Inclusive Development Hub. Sandra is part of the Indigenous Peoples Advisory team, which supports the integration of human rights of Indigenous Peoples into USAID policies and programs. Sandra supports the implementation of USAID’s Indigenous Peoples Policy (PRO-IP). Additionally, she is the lead for the implementation of USAID’s Climate Change Strategy’ Intermediate Result on “Partnering with Indigenous Peoples.” She has 23 years of professional experience in international development, focused especially on integrating social issues into the planning and implementation of environmental and agricultural projects. She started her career working with projects for Indigenous Peoples in the Amazon and continued working in the region with the World Wildlife Fund performing environmental and social risk management. She has consulted with projects for the World Bank and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations . Sandra holds a master’s degree in international development from the University of Wageningen, The Netherlands, where she focused on Rural Development Sociology.

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