May 9, 2019

The rains are coming and so is safe drinking water

Drinking freshly filtered rainwater in Pozo Hondo
Drinking freshly filtered rainwater in Pozo Hondo

The rainy season is about to start in our region of Central Mexico.  This is a great time for Caminos de Agua because rain means the cisterns we have built with dozens of communities, impacting thousands, in this region will soon start filling up with healthy drinking water.

Many of the cisterns we built late last year and early this year will start filling up for the first time and this is a cause for celebration. Twenty-five large-scale rainwater harvesting systems were built for the communities of Pozo Hondo and La Vaciada which will benefit approximately 60 families; however, residents were worried that the local grade school had no fresh drinking water and very little water for restroom use or basic maintenance.  They conveyed the need to Caminos de Agua, and we found a generous donor, outside of GlobalGiving, who provided the financing. The parents of the school children (mostly the mothers) organized, were trained, and ultimately built the ferrocement cisterns, which is no easy task, and finished the construction just last month. The inauguration and party celebrating these school systems is scheduled for next week!

Additionally, we are working through various partners to get many new rainwater harvesting systems off the ground. We just just put the finishing touches on another school system with the highschool students in the community of Agustín González. This community has some of the highest levels of fluoride contamination we have ever seen in San Miguel – impacting the participating teenagers development and health throughout their life. Many thanks to the GlobalGiving community and our long-time partners, El Maíz Más Pequeño, for providing support on this project.

Additionally, we are working with our partners at Casita Linda de begin implementing a comprehensive education program and build nine (9) large-scale rainwater harvesting systems in the community of Palo Colorado. We are also working with the Municipal and State Departments of Environment and Sustainability to potentially build upwards of 80 rainwater harvesting systems in communities at-risk throughout the entire state in the months to come. So, keep your eyes peeled for some big projects in future updates.

The work we do involves far more than construction.  We’ve been taking recent opportunities to develop and begin piloting our new education program. We provided a series of workshops to mothers participating in the Pozo Hondo and La Vaciada school rainwater program. Topics include the water cycle, the importance of knowing our watershed, the health risks of contaminated groundwater (these two communities are affected by high levels of arsenic and fluoride in their drinking water), and how rainwater is the most important solution to the problem now. This educational program has evolved into six extensive modules that we will be implementing in new rainwater programs in the future.

This educational development is a massive undertaking for the organization and an integral to – and perhaps the foundation of– the future of Caminos de Agua. Our team is working diligently every week to create new materials, design modules, and pilot new ideas. Lots of these topics have never existed in these types of educational programs to date – with each module linking to the previous and future modules and focusing on things like: the entire spectrum of water contaminants (i.e. organic and inorganic chemicals, etc) and their individual impacts on human health – ideas that are largely set aside by tradtional water educational programs.

Get a taste of our new educational materials in one of the photos below. 

By finding solutions to water issues, communities are empowered to organize and solve other problems. Other grassroots NGOs with a longer and more constant presence in these communities are crucial collaborators and partners in this objective. A local woman summed it best in this description of the experience, “we are not only building cisterns, but we are also building community.”

Your donations not only build rainwater harvesting systems, but they are also helping develop stronger and more resilient communities. We thank everyone that is supporting our efforts through GlobalGiving. We are ready to do more, but limited only by our ability to raise more funds. Help us take advantage of this rainy season today!

¡Muchas gracias!

Paco Guajardo

Carrying rainwater to filter in La Vaciada
Carrying rainwater to filter in La Vaciada
Student building a base in Agustin Gonzalez
Student building a base in Agustin Gonzalez
Delivering ceramic filters in La Vaciada
Delivering ceramic filters in La Vaciada
Mothers starting work at the school in Pozo Hondo
Mothers starting work at the school in Pozo Hondo
Draft of a page from our new educational program
Draft of a page from our new educational program
Mar 11, 2019

Aguadapt: our ceramic filter can transition from emergency relief to a permanent water solution.

Pascuala uses our ceramic filter
Pascuala uses our ceramic filter

Caminos de Agua will be piloting its ceramic filter and adapter (Aguadapt) to test its effectiveness in emergency situations and transition from emergency use to permanent water solution. The Aguadapt filter can produce more than 27,000-liters of drinking water over its lifetime.

To prepare for this pilot, we recently went out to the field to assess some of the first ceramic filters we placed with 47 families in the community near San Miguel de Allende over five years ago and talked to several of the participants. Pascuala, a critical organizer of the project in her community, shared the following:

"As a child, I drank river water because we did not know anything about contamination. It affected my siblings and me a lot, we all have stained teeth (from excessive fluoride in the water) . . . and during those years suffered greatly from stomach pain, nausea, and very bad headaches".

We know that our certified ceramic filter can remove 99% of pathogens and bacteria from contaminated water. Making it adaptable to any container in emergency response situations will allow it to treat water quickly, on-site, and with locally available materials and transition from emergency relief to a permanent water solution for families. Seeing that our ceramic filters are still effective after five years ensures many persons will continue to have access to safe and healthy water long after an emergency situation is over. Pascuala had this to say about her families' use of the ceramic filter.

"We have been drinking rainwater and using a ceramic filter for over five years. My oldest son, who drank (contaminated) river water before we had the (rainwater) harvesting cistern, has very stained teeth, but my three youngest ones were raised drinking rainwater and their teeth are white and healthy. The ceramic filter gives us the confidence that our cistern water is clean and that nothing bad is in it."

The Aguadapt universal adapter is now in its first production run and will be piloted with a partner organization, Concern America, in 600 homes in Southern Mexico in the coming months. We will be reporting on the results of this pilot to our Global Giving supporters and through our website. Our annual report has additional information on technical advances and human interest stories of the impact of our solutions are having in the communities we work with.

From everyone at Caminos de Agua, thank you for continuing support of our research and projects.

It provides safe drinking water for her family.
It provides safe drinking water for her family.
600 homes will pilot our emergency relief adapter
600 homes will pilot our emergency relief adapter

Links:

Feb 11, 2019

Celebrating a New Year and Lots of Rain

Blessing the first system in Pozo Hondo
Blessing the first system in Pozo Hondo

Dear GlobalGiving Supporters,

In our last update, we were putting the finishing touches on our rainwater harvesting projects in the communities of Pozo Hondo and La Vaciada. Rainwater systems are badly needed in these communities, which suffer from seriously unhealthy levels of arsenic and fluoride in their drinking water supply – roughly four times the World Health Organization recommendations. In the long term, arsenic and fluoride are correlated with dental and crippling skeletal fluorosis, skin disease, cognitive development issues in children, kidney failure, and numerous cancers. Rainwater is naturally free of these minerals. 

So, in response to this situation, concerned members of these communities, mostly women, stepped forward to organize and build 25 rainwater harvesting systems with Caminos de Agua. Thanks to the Gonzalo Río Arronte Foundation and GlobalGiving supporters like you, we were able to provide the materials for all of the systems and an extensive training and education program. 

The communities are part of a larger network called United Communities for Life and Water (CUVA-PAS), which represent more than 20 rural villages in the most impacted region of our watershed. In late January, Pozo Hondo and CUVA-PAS organized a massive celebration and inauguration. More than 200 people from nearly 20 rural villages came to celebrate. Representatives from every single community spoke and some even sang songs written especially for the occasion. 

The work of the families has gained the interest of the rest of the community in Pozo Hondo, which has more than 300 families in total. Seeing the impact of contaminated drinking water on children, the local elementary school reached out to Caminos de Agua and asked if we would be able to provide educational programs for all of the families and build rainwater systems for the school. This past month, we began a new multi-stage educational program with the 30+ mothers in the elementary school and will be developing new materials through this program. We plan on breaking ground on two new rainwater harvesting systems for the schools in the coming weeks. 

There are still hundreds more families in Pozo Hondo and La Vaciada – and 10s of thousands more throughout the region – who need drinking water solutions like these. We are grateful to our partners like CUVA-PAS and INANA, A.C. who helped organize and administer this project and to the dozens of families who provided all of the labor on these systems, which took more than 5,000 hours to build in total. And we are especially thankful to the Gonzalo Río Arronte Foundation and GlobalGiving supporters who made this project possible. Please consider a donation today to help us keep this work alive and moving.

Saludos,

Dylan Terrell and the Caminos de Agua team

Cutting the ribbon in Pozo Hondo
Cutting the ribbon in Pozo Hondo
More than 200 make their way to the celebration
More than 200 make their way to the celebration
Singing songs to celebrate rainwater!
Singing songs to celebrate rainwater!
New workshops underway in the elementary school
New workshops underway in the elementary school
Learning how rainwater systems work at the school
Learning how rainwater systems work at the school
 
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