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1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico

by Caminos de Agua
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1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
1 Million Liters of Safe Drinking Water in Mexico
Mother & son stand by their rainwater system
Mother & son stand by their rainwater system

Dear GlobalGiving Supporters, 

Well, we closed out last year with a bang. As we continue to grow our organization, we are reaching more and more people every year. So, thanks to GlobalGiving supporters like you, as well as new institutional and other partners, we made 2020 our most impactful year to date. Given the global pandemic, it was more important than ever to get much needed water access to so many who live in water scarcity and/or with extreme arsenic and fluoride contamination in their water supplies. In 2020, we built a total of 58 large-scale rainwater harvesting systems in 15 different rural communities by the end of the year with an additional 47 systems under construction by year’s end. 

The big news from our last update was that we were officially approved for a major, 3-year long, water project being financed, in part, by the Gonzalo Río Arronte Foundation. Since our last update, the project has officially launched, and we have really hit the ground running. We are working closely with our partner organization, Inana, A.C., who is providing some of the educational outreach as well as the financial management of the project, while we in Caminos de Agua are providing the overall coordination and implementation of the project in partnership with our grassroots collaborators – CUVAPAS (United Communities for Life and Water), SECOPA (Pozo Ademado Community Services), and the San Cayetano Community Center. Over the next three years, together, we will bring drinking water and sanitation solutions to 30 new rural villages throughout our watershed in northern Guanajuato State here in Mexico. 

We are currently in phase one of the project, and we have already implemented four, week-long, capacity trainings on how to construct 12,000-liter ferrocement rainwater harvesting systems. Through those trainings, dozens of our community partners have gained the skills to replicate the construction, and we now have 51 rainwater harvesting systems under construction, or already built, in 12 new rural communities – bringing clean water access to dozens of families who have struggled with excessive levels of arsenic and fluoride in their water for more than a generation. 

Additionally, we have expanded this project to include sanitation for the first time. Collaborating with another NGO, Gaia A.C., we have implemented an additional three capacity trainings on composting toilets and have built nine to date, with a promise to build at least 60 over the course of the project. Given the extreme water scarcity issues in our region, our community and grassroots partners came to us asking for solutions to stop wasting the little water they do have by literally flushing it down the toilet. Having bathrooms in the homes is also an important safety and security measure, especially for women, many of whom have to use the bathroom in the open air and are at an increased risk for violence. 

Despite our advances, COVID has now become an extremely destructive reality for many of the communities with whom we are currently partnering. We knew that COVID would arrive in the rural villages later than in the cities, and that time has now come. The virus is currently surging through many communities where we work and is made all the more difficult by the lack of access to water and medical services. While we have been taking all the necessary precautions, the situation for both our staff and community partners has simply become too volatile and dangerous. We have canceled our upcoming trainings and interventions and are now regrouping to rework the structure of the project and, working closely with our partners, to find ways to continue to implement solutions responsibly. It’s a catch-22: so many lack access to safe water, which has been shown to increase the risk for transmission of the coronavirus; however, to implement water solutions puts all of us at more risk. 

So, we are continuing on, carefully at this time, and trying to figure out the most responsible and effective ways to increase water access during these extremely difficult and uncertain times. We would like to sincerely thank all of our on-going supporters from GlobalGiving. We need your support now more than ever to help us adapt. We are beginning to implement solutions on a much more individual scale, instead of the traditional “all hands on deck” community participation model, leading us to stretch our limited resources to the brink. We hope you will consider supporting this critical work at this very difficult moment in time. 

 

Saludos,

Dylan and the Caminos de Agua Team

Testing water quality in a local community
Testing water quality in a local community
Building a large-scale rainwater harvesting system
Building a large-scale rainwater harvesting system
Water education workshop
Water education workshop
Women inspecting a new ceramic water filter
Women inspecting a new ceramic water filter
A family with their new rainwater system
A family with their new rainwater system
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Educational Workshop in El Fraile
Educational Workshop in El Fraile

Dear GlobalGiving Supporters, 

We have some big news this update. After more than 10 months of hard work and waiting, we were officially approved to implement a major water project with the Gonzalo Río Arronte Foundation. This three year project will allow us to work in 30 new rural communities – building literally hundreds of rainwater harvesting systems, water filters, and even several dozen composting toilets as well as implementing workshops and technical trainings. We are just about to sign the official contract and get phase one off the ground. 

During phase one, we will be working closely with our grassroots collaborators – United Communities for Live and Water (CUVAPAS for their acronym in Spanish), Pozo Ademado Community Services (SECOPA), and the San Cayetano Community Center – to hold community meetings, workshops, technical capacity trainings, and ultimately build the first 72 large-scale rainwater harvesting systems. This phase will run through February, 2021, and allow us to work with 12 communities and dozens of families – all greatly impacted by severe water quality and/or scarcity issues. 

While the Gonzalo Río Arronte Foundation project will greatly define our work moving forward, we have been hard at work in local communities in the meantime. Our methods have changed greatly due to the current global pandemic. All of our community meetings and educational events are now held outside as much as possible, with safe distancing and masks a must. We have also started asking community groups to send representatives to keep numbers of participants lower than we would normally look to have. 

In July, we finished a major project building a 20,000-liter capacity rainwater harvesting system in the elementary school of El Salitrillo. We worked closely with a group of mothers, and this project was also the first opportunity to debut our new 7-module educational program we have been developing for more than a year. 

Currently, we have two major projects underway. The first is to finish building 20 rainwater harvesting systems in small villages surrounding the community of Agustín González, which has the highest levels of fluoride contamination in all of the municipality of San Miguel de Allende – greatly impacting the health of the youth in the region. This project was supported by the municipal government of San Miguel de Allende and UBSA – a local business that provided the majority of the funding for materials. 

We also have a big project well underway in the community of El Fraile. During the month of July, we raised funds from individual donors, including all of our recurring supporters here on GlobalGiving, to specifically help support this project. The community of El Fraile is located on the outskirts of San Miguel de Allende and in the middle of massive agricultural production. Because of this water-intensive production, the water-table below the community has been dropping rapidly – so much so that a little over a year ago the well went completely dry and actually collapsed in on itself. Since then, the community has been without regular water access. Thanks to all of you, we raised enough support to build 24 large-scale rainwater harvesting systems with the community! This is a massive success. 

We are currently finishing the educational program with the participating families in El Fraile, and we are about to get construction of the 24 rainwater harvesting systems underway. The community members themselves will be providing all of the labor and even the materials to build the bases and gutter systems for all of the systems; this allows us to extend the impact to as many families as possible. 

Thanks to all of our on-going supporters from GlobalGiving for keeping these projects thriving. During these difficult times, water is only becoming more and more important. Thank you again. 

Saludos,

Dylan



Rainwater Harvesting System in El Salitrillo
Rainwater Harvesting System in El Salitrillo
Fixing a Rainwater System at a Local School
Fixing a Rainwater System at a Local School
Caminos Staff Inspects a Finished Rainwater System
Caminos Staff Inspects a Finished Rainwater System
Delivering Water Filters to an Elementary School
Delivering Water Filters to an Elementary School
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These systems provide water at a critical time.
These systems provide water at a critical time.

Dear GlobalGiving friends,

In late March, all of us at Caminos de Agua were excited to launch a week of events to celebrate World Water Day. Our featured guest had purchased plane tickets to fly to San Miguel de Allende from the US, venues were rented, a full publicity campaign had been developed in the months leading up to the event and we had recently organized a press conference to publicize events.

And then it all came to a halt.

The municipal government, who was a partner in our events, announced that no public events were to be held until further notice. We rushed to cancel everything and reached out to people that had purchased tickets to some of the events. Everyone was supportive and understanding and once that was done we huddled to figure out how we would redirect our work to meet the new reality and challenges related to water in times of COVID-19. Our lives have not been the same since and we have moved into a different era of communicating and doing our work.

World Health Organization recommendations to prevent the spread of the virus call for hand washing several times a day as well as cleaning surfaces and items that come into our home. While this seems a reasonable approach to many it is not feasible for at least half of the population in Mexico and a great number of the rural communities we serve in the region of central Mexico where we do our work. We also had to accept the fact that many of these communities have limited access to reliable sources of information to help them deal with the pandemic.

In record time we developed a communications network using channels used by many in these communities such as WhatsApp groups and Facebook. We also contacted the grassroots organizations we work within these communities and asked for their advice.
We developed a series of online workshops and materials with valuable information so that communities with little access to water could do the following:

  • Build a hand washing station, called a Tippy Tap, which has allowed many all over the world to wash their hands multiple times with only a gallon of water.
  • How to build an emergency rainwater harvesting system to supplement the limited amount of water available.
  • How to prepare hand sanitizing solution to readily available ingredients; and
  • Remind families that already have a rainwater harvesting system of the maintenance required before the arrival of the rainy season which is due to start soon.


We also reached out to our loyal friends in a targeted fundraising campaign and were overwhelmed by their generous response.

We have developed new and timely education materials, created communications channels using platforms used by communities with little internet access, and trained staff to help those at risk communities increase their access to water and prevent the spread of the virus in their families and communities. All of this was done thanks to your generosity and willingness to support our work.

We will be busy in the coming months with new initiatives with local government and major foundations.
We are also on track to test our Groundwater Treatment System which has been years in development at a community level. This solution has the potential to help countless communities in our region, elsewhere in Mexico and worldwide.

Thanks to you we are in a good position to help and do more. As always, your support is needed and appreciated, but at this time we want to take the opportunity to thank you and acknowledge all that your contributions make possible.

Much of the support we get from GlobalGiving comes from recurring donations. We know who you are, we are familiar with your names by now, and we welcome your loyal support every month. We hope that at this time you and your loved ones are well and safe. You are an important part of the Caminos de Agua family and we take this opportunity for helping us through when we needed it most.

We encourage all of you to share news of what Caminos de Agua is doing in response to COVID-19 with family and friends who may not know about our work. Information about our new online workshops and materials is available through our website and YouTube channel. Have a look and reach out to us if you have any questions or comments.

To say we are stronger because of you may sound like a marketing tagline, but it is the truth and a sincere statement of how we feel at this time. This response and our continuing work would not be possible without your support.

We will continue to update you on our work and latest initiatives. Rainwater harvesting is still a priority and your contributions are helping us extend our reach. We invite you to take a look at the materials and videos our great communications team developed in-house in record time. 

On behalf of the entire Caminos de Agua team, once again, ¡MUCHAS GRACIAS!

50% of the population in Mexico needs more water
50% of the population in Mexico needs more water
Our solutions are impacting the lives of many
Our solutions are impacting the lives of many
Your support is making a difference
Your support is making a difference

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Water Press Conference
Water Press Conference

Over the past year, there has been a lot of discussion and concern about the future of water in San Miguel de Allende.

Are there contaminants in the current water supply in San Miguel? What will happen to the quantity and quality of San Miguel’s water supply as our city continues to grow? What work is being done to make sure a water plan is being created that provides for the city’s future water needs?

With these and many other concerns in mind, 14 leading San Miguel NGO’s with a stake in the fight for clean water joined together to create a coalition called Agua Vida to raise awareness about water issues and work with government to promote public policies to ensure safe and clean water for future generations.  The Agua Vida coalition celebrated its one year anniversary last October.

HIDDEN CONTAMINANTS ARE PUTTING US ALL AT RISK

Export-driven agriculture is a huge sector of the economy in the state of Guanajuato. Water-intensive crops are rapidly sucking up our precious water resources and significantly contributing to the rapid decline of our water table (2-4 meters every year). The deeper we go to get to the water, the more we are seeing spikes of naturally occurring arsenic and fluoride in our water supply. There is no question that there are dangerous contaminants in our drinking water when it comes out of the ground, the big question is how bad is it when it enters our homes? Without immediate action, the health of all the residents of San Miguel de Allende will become increasingly threatened.  

THE DOWNSIDE TO TOURISM 

Making changes in the agriculture sector is largely beyond the capacity of municipal government. However, tourism, urban planning, and rainwater management are just some of the issues that our local government can manage, and there are important changes that can be made to better preserve our depleting water resources. 

Every year, more and more tourists flock to San Miguel and an increasing number of foreigners are investing in residential property. To accommodate this rising demand, new hotels, restaurants, housing projects, and other developments are popping up at an unsustainable rate. Without water stability and public awareness, we are looking not only at serious health threats to many residents but harm to businesses, increased urban flooding and falling real estate values as well.             

A PROMISING ADDITION TO THE MUNICIPAL CODE TO FACILITATE FUTURE GROWTH

With this in mind, one of the major efforts of the Agua Vida Coalition is to change the municipal construction code to require rainwater harvesting on all new developments. Such a change will be the first of its kind in the country and put San Miguel on the map as a model city in water management and innovation. 

WORKING TOGETHER TOWARD A COMMON GOAL

For the first time in the history of San Miguel, a large group of nonprofits is working in partnership with the municipal government, including the municipal water authority (SAPASMA), on a plan to identify problems and develop solutions that will ensure water security for all.

Having an open-dialogue has allowed us to raise specific issues. Caminos de Agua is proud to be a critical part of this coalition that is making important progress to ensure the future of San Miguel. The threats to our water that we are all facing are not issues that we can combat alone.

BY SUPPORTING CAMINOS YOU ARE MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Guanajuato faces a great challenge. Water table levels drop alarmingly and our wells go deeper wells to meet the population's water needs, but the arsenic and fluoride we find at these depths is creating a serious public health problem and water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource. The challenge presented by the reality of water in the region exceeds the capacities of any individual, organization, company or governme

The challenge presented by the reality of water in the region exceeds the capacities of any individual, organization, company or government but your support allows Caminos to work with government, other non-profit, and corporate entities to share experience and resources that will create solutions and plans that are having a greater impact. 

 

 

Agua Vida and municipal government work together
Agua Vida and municipal government work together

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A family shows off their new rainwater system
A family shows off their new rainwater system

Our rainwater harvesting work continues to take on new partners and venture into new realms, and we are excited to leverage these relationships to multiply our impact. 

Back in March, Caminos de Agua and 13 other organizations – collectively known as the Agua Vida Coalition – signed a declaration with the municipal government in San Miguel de Allende to create a plan for the future of water in the municipality. Since then, we have worked closely with the municipality and coalition partners to bring rainwater harvesting solutions to more and more people in the region as a way to address both water contamination and growing water scarcity. 

We have been working closely with our coalition partner organization, Casita Linda, to bring rainwater harvesting systems to homes in the community of Palo Colorado – a large community only 15 minutes from the urban center. The community’s well dried up -- and literally collapsed in on itself -- this past year, leaving hundreds without water access.

With the municipal government, we have been working closely with the Department of Environment and Sustainability to change the municipal construction code to require all new develops to capture rainwater. This would make San Miguel the first municipality in the entire country to require rainwater harvesting! 

Additionally, we have been working with the government to implement rainwater harvesting solutions in communities most at risk. 

Last time, we updated you on the community of Agustín González. This community has some of the highest levels of fluoride we have registered in the municipality – more than 4 times above the World Health Organization recommended limit. We, along with our partners in El Maíz Más Pequeño, have been working with the students at the local high school for more than a year. Many of these students have been living with the health impacts of excessive fluoride including cognitive development issues and severe dental fluorosis – an irreversible condition that stains teeth brown and black. 

The students organized and, amongst other projects, built a rainwater harvesting system for drinking water at their school to help stave off the health impacts for future generations. But that’s only where this story begins…

Since that last report, the students have worked with us in Caminos de Agua to solicit the municipal government to do more. Thanks to their efforts, the Department of Environment and Sustainability has agreed to deliver the materials for 11 new, large-scale, rainwater harvesting systems, which will be installed by the students themselves in family homes over the next month. The students have continued to work in other communities and have also identified future needs for rainwater systems at other community schools. 

This initiative is the first of many between the municipal government, Caminos de Agua, and local communities. Together with the Agua Vida Coalition, we are working to develop projects through a municipal “Water Fund” that will help support rainwater harvesting, watershed restoration, and similar projects will into the future. 

Thanks to everyone who supports our work. We hope you will consider a donation today to help us do more. 

Saludos,

Dyan and the Caminos de Agua Team

Agua Vida and local Government sign the agreement
Agua Vida and local Government sign the agreement
Students explain the rainwater system to visitors
Students explain the rainwater system to visitors
Caminos staff talk water filtration with students
Caminos staff talk water filtration with students
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Organization Information

Caminos de Agua

Location: San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato - Mexico
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @caminosdeagua
Project Leader:
Dylan Terrell
San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato Mexico
$17,344 raised of $85,000 goal
 
368 donations
$67,656 to go
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