Econ & Social Development of Indigenous Mexicans

Desarrollo Economico Social de los Mexicanos Indigenas (DESMI) provides financial, organizational and technical assistance to help community groups carry out their own projects and work together in resolving community needs. DESMI supports the development of indigenous collectives of corn and coffee production, animal husbandry, crafts production and opening local grocery stores with the goal of creating an integrated network of producers and consumers as backbone to a strong rural economy.
Mar 5, 2009

March 2009 Update

We are pleased to report that DESMI has an impressive wood-saving stove project underway. In addition to saving wood, the stoves greatly improve the health of women, and their children, who use them.

Exposure to and inhalation of smoke from burning wood with traditional stoves (lacking chimneys) causes a whole host of serious health problems- everything from respiratory infections and asthma to cataracts and carbon monoxide poisoning. Installing efficient, enclosed wood burning stoves is a simple, effective way to conserve the forests (deforestation is an increasing problem in rural Mexico) and remove smoke from the home.

In the small community of Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, DESMI has ensured that all 18 families have wood-saving stoves, increasing their overall health and quality life.

The new stoves are culturally appropriate to Mayan cooking traditions and several nearby communities have expressed interest in installing the stoves in their own communities. DESMI provides training on the construction of the stoves, loans for the purchase of materials to build them, and on-going support to the families who use them them.

The women from the community are very grateful for their new stoves and have already seen tangible improvements. “We hope other women will be able to have wood-saving stoves, as they have helped us very much,” says one woman from the community. Others mentioned feeling better physically and saying their eyes were no longer red and irritated. Women reported that with their stoves, they are saving wood and cooking time because they can now prepare several dishes simultaneously. And yet another said: “Even the cats and chickens come up to the wood-saving stove and smile.”

Dec 9, 2008

December 2008 Update

In 2008, DESMI staff conducted a total of 22 workshops and 83 follow up visits on sustainable agriculture, involving 950 participants representing 131 communities. The participants are ‘agroecology promoters’ chosen by their communities who attend the workshops in return for making a commitment to training their neighbors in sustainable agriculture techniques.

The training is multiplied as the promoters replicate what they have learned in follow-up workshops that they give in their own villages. The impact therefore reaches many more people than those who attend the initial workshops.

Sep 4, 2008

DESMI Constructs Ecological Training Center

DESMI worked with community collectives to build a training center in Agua de Leon, a community in the municipality of San Cristobal de las Casas. While groups from 14 communities are initially using the center, eventually it will benefit 48 communities in the southern zone of Chiapas.

The center is designed to be a model for promoting ecological sustainability. It includes a greenhouse for germinating organic vegetable seedlings and saplings for reforestation. There is also an organic garden for hands-on training, composting toilets and rainwater harvesting tanks. To accommodate villagers from across the region there is a dormitory and a kitchen (including a wood-saving stove) for hosting multiple day workshops on-site.