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.
Dylan and the Caminos de Agua Team
Testing water quality in a local community
Building a large-scale rainwater harvesting system
Water education workshop
Women inspecting a new ceramic water filter
A family with their new rainwater system