Thanks to support from the Swiss Re ReSource Award for sustainable watershed management, and Intercultural Productions, a socially motivated video and multimedia production company, EcoLogic has created this five-minute documentary about the history of our work in northern Honduras, and our collaboration with our local partner, the Association of Water Committees of the Southern Sector of Pico Bonito National Park (AJAASSPIB).
In 2011, our Communities Organizing for Watersheds project was awarded second place in the annual ReSource award competition as an exceptional program that "raises awareness of the ecological, social, and economic significance of water sources and watersheds in developing and emerging countries."
EcoLogic and our local implementing partner, the Pico Bonito Southern Sector Water Council Association (AJAASSPIB), have continued to make great strides in promoting the conservation and reforestation of watersheds. Recently, we have moved forward with our environmental awareness campaign in the city of Olanchito and surrounding in an effort titled “Operación Stiker,” (Sticker Operation, in English). The effort is primarily led by students from the Regional University of the Aguán Valley. This group is committed to spread the word about protecting the watershed by passing out stickers to other students and community members. During the group’s first meeting they designed a logo and created 2,000 tri-folds expressing the importance of protecting the Uchapa-Pimienta subwatershed. So far we have printed 3,500 stickers, 500 pamphlets, 50 tee shirts, and 50 hats with the Uchapa-Pimienta campaign logo. These materials help engage local people in the stewardship of water resources.
Our work with AJAASSPIB demonstrates the willingness of local communities to become a part of conservation efforts. We have seen that conservation and restoration of forested microwatersheds - where communities rally around water sources and the forests that sustain them - is an effective catalyst for engaging local people and providing access to water. This approach of working at the most local of scales ensures that participating communities develop a sense of ownership vital to successful, long-term conservation. We look forward to disseminating the rest of the materials and continuing our work with the communities of Olanchito.
In rural Honduras, EcoLogic works with an Association of Water Committees (AJAASSPIB) to develop and implement practical plans to care for watersheds. Using a holistic approach that goes beyond pipes and infrastructure, we are taking into account the role of the ecosystem—the health of the land directly impacts its ability to drain and collect water. This includes reforesting degraded areas crucial for reducing erosion and regulating water flow.
With that in mind, EcoLogic has established an environmental fund with six AJAASSPIB member-communities to allocate a percentage of water user fees directly toward watershed protection. This ensures that community members are financing water source protection and restoration as opposed to only water infrastructure such as pipes, tanks, and faucets.
Through a series of trainings and workshops, EcoLogic has been able to establish this fund. We found the way to keep water fees down in the long-run is to create a fund that is preventative in nature – an environmental fund – which would decrease sediment and contaminants in the water and limit water shortages. These preventative measures would result in less filtration costs, less repairs due to wear and tear on pipes and faucets, and less water shortages resulting in a need to purchase expensive bottled water.
Through the community’s involvement and commitment, we are showing the world a model for protecting and restoring rural water sources in an effective, sustainable, community-led manner.
Our partner AJAASSPIB won the United Nations Equator prize recognizing their work in leading communities to conserve, restore and sustainably manage local water resources! EcoLogic nominated AJAASSPIB with confidence because of our close collaboration with the community organization. We work to promote their successes so they gain needed support. Doing so also helps get the word out about the ways the EcoLogic community is solving problems. As part of our mandate to strengthen community governance structures and leadership abilities, EcoLogic was instrumental in helping establish AJAASSPIB in 2003, and have worked with them since on activities including reforestation; the installation of fuel-efficient cooking stoves; the mapping, legal demarcation and protection of watersheds; and environmental awareness campaigns.
The goal of the Equator prize of the United Nations Development Programme is to “recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.” AJAASSPIB was one of 25 organizations world-wide selected to win from the more than 800 nominations received. AJAASSPIB will receive $5,000 for program activities and an AJAASSPIB former President, Zumilda Duarte, will travel to the Rio +20 conference in June. At Rio, Zumilda will participate in special trainings, workshops and networking events sponsored by the Equator Initiative.
EcoLogic works with 27 communities in Honduras supporting a regional, community-led Association of Water Committees (AJAASSPIB) that oversees the provision of clean drinking water to the residents of the communities.
Recently EcoLogic Program Officer Gina Rindfleisch met with AJAASSPIB President Don Carlos in Honduras and was shown the inner workings of the water sanitation system. The system is made up of over a dozen chlorine tablets through which the water runs before it enters, and is stored in the water tank. The tablets must be replaced, on average, every two weeks. The system ensures that when community members turn on their faucets they know the water they are giving their families is clean and safe to drink.
Don Carlos said, “We dream that this project is going to grow more… and we can arrive at a moment in which we can assert our voices at a national level so it can work for the benefit of the communities and we can assure that the water is going to be here for a long time.”
EcoLogic and AJAASSPIB have been working together for over five years to execute a watershed management strategy that prevents water shortages. We look forward to continuing to build the institutional capacity of AJAASSPIB to extend their reach and influence even further in 2012 and help even more communities have access to safe, reliable drinking water.
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