Nov 23, 2016

Squeezing the Last Drops out of the Rainy Season!

Woman in Llano Verde receives her filter system
Woman in Llano Verde receives her filter system

Dear Global Giving Supporters,

As the rainy season winds down here in Central Mexico, the Caminos de Agua team and local communities are rushing to get the last few systems up in the hopes of taking advantage of the few rains that remain.  In our last report, we illustrated the impact of an Engineers Without Borders group from University College of London (UCL) who helped a local community build 10 full scale systems and provide dozens of ceramic water filters for participating families.  Over the last couple of months, we have expanded our partnerships to continue increasing our impact!

Thanks to our new partners at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, we have been able to provide two large capacity trainings and build seven (7) new rainwater systems in four local communities.  Additionally, another partner – Mission for Life – is helping expand the impact of those rainwater systems by sponsoring filter systems for individual families so even more people can have access to safe and healthy drinking water.

We started this round of projects a little differently with an entire new training model – utilizing prefabricated cisterns and new educational materials.  We built a 7,500L capacity rainwater system for an elementary school in the community of Los Lopez, which suffers from excessively high arsenic and fluoride concentrations.   Given the great –  and ever increasing – need for rainwater systems, the goal of this training was to provide a new model that illustrates how local families can build their own rainwater systems, with minimal labor, and increase their storage capacity over time.  The three 2,500L capacity cisterns were installed one-by-one, showing how a family can add on to their systems year after year.  This new model utilized special workshop materials – some designed specifically for the community – from one of Caminos de Agua’s long-term interns currently working on her master’s degree. 

This system will provide safe and healthy water to 211 elementary students!  Take a look at the new educational materials recently developed on our website here (English versions): http://caminosdeagua.org/water-education/

From the community of Los Lopez, we moved back to the north to break ground on six (6) 12,000L ferrocement cistern models with our regional partner – the United Communities for Life and Water coalition.  These systems are being built as we speak in three (3) rural communities suffering from some of the most intense water quality and access concerns in the region.

We started these projects with a week-long capacity training, led by Caminos de Agua staff, in the community of Llano Verde, where 20-30 people participated from the surrounding area.  This small rural community of 17 families has almost no water access.  They currently receive water once or twice per month (only 200-400 liters) from a neighboring community at one single tap. The two (2) systems built in this community will serve the 11 participating families, all of whom will receive their own filter system thanks in part to Mission for Life.

The two additional communities – Arenal and La Escoba – participated in the capacity training at Llano Verde and are almost done with their four (4) respective systems.  Similar to Llano Verde, the small rural community of La Escoba also lacks regular water access.  Arenal, a slightly larger community of 46 families in total, has semi-regular water access; however, their water is some of the most contaminated in the region, with arsenic and fluoride levels at 9 and 12 times World Health Organization recommendations respectively, making its consumption potentially acutely toxic.

In total, these six systems were built quicker than any to date, as the communities are anxiously attempting to take advantage of any potential late-season rainfall.  In total, these systems are anticipated to impact more than 40 families in the region. 

By the end of the year, we will have officially:

  1. Built 38 rainwater systems – with more than 20 coming from Global Giving supporters –in partnership with 17 rural communities throughout the region, providing homes and schools with more than 450,000 liters of healthy water storage, and
  2. Installed more than 130 ceramic water filter systems, with the ability to produce nearly 5.7 million liters of safe drinking water over their lifetime.


We still have hundreds of communities that need your support.  You can see how we continue to leverage new and existing partners to expand our impact with each project.  Next year we already have projects scheduled with local organizations as well as international universities in several local schools.  Please, help us expand the impact of those projects!

Our sincerest thanks to Wageningen University for providing the support for this current project, all of you in Global Giving for your on-going support, and special thanks to the local communities for providing all of the labor, lunches, and love for these projects.

Saludos,
Dylan Terrell

Caminos staff performs training on contaminants
Caminos staff performs training on contaminants
Mothers install rainwater system at local school
Mothers install rainwater system at local school
Providing 200+ elementary students drinking water
Providing 200+ elementary students drinking water
Taking a much-needed break during a cistern build
Taking a much-needed break during a cistern build
Staff works with mother's group at school install
Staff works with mother's group at school install
Families get busy during large capacity training
Families get busy during large capacity training
Finishing up a cistern in a local community
Finishing up a cistern in a local community
Aug 25, 2016

Expanding Impact with New Partners!

New cistern inauguration in San Antonio
New cistern inauguration in San Antonio

Dear Global Giving Supporters,

This is an exciting time for our rainwater harvesting work.  Since our last report, we have been able to expand our impact exponentially in the community of San Antonio de Lourdes!  If you recall, San Antonio’s community drinking well went dry roughly eight years ago.  The only source of water is trucked in from nearby agricultural deposits and has the highest rates of arsenic and fluoride contamination in the region.

In partnership with Engineers Without Borders – University College of London (EWB-UCL), we are able to build 10 new rainwater cisterns in San Antonio in community homes.  This builds off the original three systems we did with the help of Global Giving supporters in the same community.  Additionally, we will be providing more than 30 Caminos ceramic filter systems so that neighbors can take advantage of the rainwater cisterns as well. 

EWB-UCL provided the funding for the cisterns, while Caminos de Agua provided the capacity training (see photos below).  The week-long training – led by Caminos Director of Community Projects –  was opened up to organizations and neighboring communities.  In total, more than 30 people attended the training throughout the entire construction process.  Partners at the “Children Support Foundation” (FAI in Spanish) have already taken that training and begun construction of 12 of their own rainwater cisterns in six neighboring communities. 

With the help of Global Giving supporters like you and old and new partners stepping up, we have been able to make a dramatic impact since the start of this project.  By the end of this month, we will have:

  1. Built 31 rainwater harvesting cisterns in 13 rural communities, providing schools and homes with more than 375,000 liters of healthy water storage, and
  2. Installed more than 80 ceramic water filter systems, with the combined ability to produce more than 3.5 million liters of safe drinking water over their 5-year life.

Help us reach a half a million liters of water storage and more than 100 filter installs before the rainy season ends!   The EWB-UCL partnership that funded the current round was a one-time project.  Moving forward, there are still dozens of communities with little to no access to drinking water, and the rainy season is slowly winding down.

Thank you for your support.

Saludos,
Dylan

PS...take a look at our work recentely featured in the New York Times, here

Local community members placing the cistern roof
Local community members placing the cistern roof
Placing the cistern at the San Antonio training
Placing the cistern at the San Antonio training
Communities and foreign engineers working together
Communities and foreign engineers working together
Caminos staff explains the ceramic filter
Caminos staff explains the ceramic filter
Students from the UK stop by to lend hand
Students from the UK stop by to lend hand

Links:

May 27, 2016

NYT and New Momentum with Rainwater Campaign!

Students perform to inaugurate rainwater project
Students perform to inaugurate rainwater project

Dear Global Giving Supporters, 

This is an exciting update for us here at Caminos de Agua (formerly CATIS-Mexico). This past month, our rainwater harvesting projects – funded largely through this campaign – were featured in a New York Times article! Photojournalist, Janet Jarman, has been following Caminos de Agua’s (Caminos) rainwater projects for the past year, and recently she brought on New York Times journalist – Elisabeth Malkin – to tell the regional water story through the perspective of Father Juan Carlos Zesati, a partner and local force in the region.  Check out the article here:

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/20/world/americas/mexico-water-farms-drought.html

Since our last update, we received some funds to continue on with this important work.  We were able to leverage those funds with our partner coalition – the Coalition in Defense of the Independence Watershed – to build nine (9) new rainwater systems!  Three of those systems were built directly with funds through this Global Giving campaign. An additional six systems were built with funds from the coalition, and many of the overlapping costs were shared.

Here is the breakdown of the recently finished and still underway rainwater systems: 

  • Two new systems were built in the community of San Antonio de Lourdes (the community featured in the New York Times article).  This makes three systems for the community located in the local church, kindergarten, and elementary schools.
  • One system was built in the elementary school of San Cayetano,
  • One system in the church of la Norita del Refugio,
  • One system in the at the community church of Los Platanos,
  • One additional system in Rancho Nuevo where we built a system last year,
  • One system was just finished this week in the community of Villa Nueva,
  • Another system is just getting underway in the community of Adjuntas del Monte,
  • We are set to break ground on the final system of this round next week in the community of Las Liebres,
  • And finally, we’ve been able to distribute an additional 18 Caminos de Agua ceramic water filter systems (and are set to add several more when the final systems are finished), five of which went to a new biochar filtration system we are piloting at a local school where a rainwater harvesting cistern was not necessary. 

All of these communities have extremely limited or no direct water access and/or their water source is extremely contaminated with arsenic and fluoride.  As the rainy season begins here in central Mexico, these communities will be able to collect water free of arsenic and fluoride, purify that water through our ceramic filters, and enjoy a safe, healthy, and secure potable water source for the first time.   

To date, this means we have been able to:

  1. Build 21 rainwater harvesting cisterns, with the ability to store more than a quarter of a million liters of water,
  2. Install 50 ceramic water filters in community schools and homes,
  3. Providing safe and healthy drinking water to hundreds of people in 13 different communities. 

Moving forward, we would like to offer up a challenge to all of our Global Giving supporters.  In June and July of this year, Engineers Without Borders – University College of London chapter has committed to building at least an additional eight (8) rainwater systems with us in the homes of San Antonio de Lourdes (again, the community featured in the NYT article above). 

This community’s well dried up seven years ago and since then, they truck water in on their personal vehicles.  The closest water source is the most contaminated in the region – roughly 7 times the WHO recommendation for arsenic and 15 times above the limit for fluoride.

We would like to provide every family in this community with their own rainwater system so future generations won’t have to suffer these same health impacts.  It’s a large task, with roughly 80 families in the community, but given the different actors involved that we can leverage and share resources with, NOW is the time to donate and make an even greater impact.

The community is trained and ready to supply all of the labor.

We here at Caminos will provide the filters, education, technical support, and continued follow-up.

Engineers Without Borders – University College of London is providing additional educational opportunities, technical support, AND a large portion of the materials needed.

We need YOU to step up and provide the funds needed to expand our impact to every family in the community.

Let’s take advantage of the coming rains together and help an entire community and future generations sustainable access to safe and healthy drinking water.

Saludos,

Dylan Terrell
Executive Director, Caminos de Agua

Finished rainwater harvesting system at a school
Finished rainwater harvesting system at a school
Padre Zesati christens cistern in San Antonio
Padre Zesati christens cistern in San Antonio
Caminos staff inspects system in Los Platanos
Caminos staff inspects system in Los Platanos
Finished rainwater cistern at local kindergarten
Finished rainwater cistern at local kindergarten
Pascual Villafuerte works on San Cayetano cistern
Pascual Villafuerte works on San Cayetano cistern

Links:

 
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