Thursday, February 23, 2017

Water Harvesting Education Program in Los Platanos

Over 30 participants attended the 3-day Water Harvesting Education Program  (February 20-23) in Los Platanos. The participants were from the communities of Los Platanos, Vergel de Guadalupe & San Cayetano in the municipality of San Luis de la Paz in the state of Guanajuato.

This was the first time Rotary Midday of San Miguel de Allende & CEDESA have visited this community; invited by volunteer community organizer Lucha Villafuerte & Father Zesati to help provide solutions to the contaminated water in the Independence Aquifer.

On day one of the program, between singing, dancing & eating, the participants learned how important water is to life & how to avoid contaminating water in the way they use water . Participants were astonished to learn that only 2% of water on Earth is suitable for human consumption & resolved to use it wisely. The ‘grandmothers’ in the group spoke to us about how they used water long ago which caused the group to reflect on the wastefulness of modern-day usage.

Day two was full of dynamic activities focused on how water in these communities became polluted & how this affected their health.  The day started with the participants creating a mural of their watershed & learning where their water comes from. They discovered there were three types of pollutants; chemical, mineral & biological, some of which they have control over & some they do not.

The promoters showed photos of adults & children with various stages of fluorosis & arsenic poisoning (fluoride & arsenic both contaminate local water supplies), which caused much discussion. A guest from a nearby community shared the problems her own community is experiencing; the tap water is highly contaminated & has caused several cases of cancer, kidney failure, & death. She reported the municipal government denies that the health problems are caused by city water. She is working with a committed group of 8 concerned citizens to help bring awareness to this serious issue. She heard about the work of Rotary and CEDESA & came to seek help and resources.

Day three of the program began with an original song & sketches about why we shouldn’t drink or cook with tap water. CEDESA & Rotary Midday member, Lee Carter, got in on the act with a humorous role play about a community rallying around clean water for their children.  The participants concluded that harvesting rainwater in cisterns was the best solution to their problem. They were enthusiastic about starting cistern building the following week.

The 3-day prog. ended with the telling of fable. After the story, the participants concluded  the problem of contaminated water is everyone’s problem & they will work together to build cisterns & to spread awareness in their communities.

Eighty-one cisterns are in the process of being built by communities in the San Luis de la Paz area.

Submitted by: Wendy Coulson (Rotary Peace Fellow/Curriculum Developer)

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