Realized on assignment for the AVSI Foundation

Afflicted by the pandemic and facing severe economic and social crisis, Mexico has to deal also with drought, that according to the National Water Commission (CONAGUA), affects 84% of the national territory and 1,295 municipalities.

A long-standing problem, exacerbated by climate change, global warming and poor water management. An organization run by indigenous women is seeking to put an end to the oxymoron that has been conditioning the daily lives of the people of the clouds and rain, who have been forced to live without clean water in Mexico for a long time. “Previously the women of these communities had to walk 5 kilometers for two buckets of water, now having it at home -says Patricia Eduviges Silva López, leader of the local NGO “MUDEM”- they just have to open the tap of the tank to get water. They save time, effort and are confident that their right to water is respected”. Patricia, supported by an international project funded by the European Union and by the government of Oaxaca and implemented by the AVSI Foundation, has thought to start building ferrocement tanks, inside which the rainwater collected through channels installed on the roofs of the houses, can be harvested. The water collected in the cisterns is then filtered and all it takes is turning on a tap to get plenty of water and to meet the needs of the communities. This one-year project realized in 2019 was like a watershed for them and involved the construction of 20 tanks between the villages of Santa Catarina Estancia and Mogote Colorado, in the municipality of Santiago Ayuquililla, in the state of Oaxaca. With a capacity of 20,000 liters of water each, they allowed people to see respected a fundamental right. Notwithstanding this, in the Mixteca, as well as in many areas of southern, central and northern Mexico, the lack of investments for the construction of water pipelines and for the maintenance of Mexico’s 6,000 dams, many of which are very old, has left the natives in precarious conditions. Those who don’t have access to water for domestic and agricultural use, still suffer the consequences of the dry season, worsened by the increasing effects of climate change. The global issue of drought does not spare anyone, from the Amazon to China, from Europe to the United States, endangering crops, animals, food production, industries and entire populations, while the planet is running out of water. Currently, with more than 7.5 billion people on the planet, 2.2 billion people have limited access to safe drinking water, and by 2025, according to the latest World Health Organization and Unicef State of the World’s Sanitation report, half of the world’s population will be living in water-stressed areas. In the indigenous communities visited in the state of Oaxaca, women face these problems every day, because without water it is impossible to irrigate fields, take care of livestock, do housework and have access to food. They also have to face the problem of respect of their human rights, violence against many of them, inequality in opportunities for access to work and education. And in Mexico these differences are very noticeable. “As a Mexican woman -says Letzi Sanchez, a staff member of the AVSI Foundation in Mexico- I have noticed that when women are encouraged and accompanied to recognize their dignity and the ability they have to generate change, a multiplier effect is obtained”. Most of the men in these villages works in northern Mexico and goes back home once a year, so it is the women who have to deal with problems such as access to water and food to provide for their families and they are becoming aware of their fundamental role in the development of their communities. “One of my wishes, which I hope one day will come true, at least in the communities where we go -concludes Patricia Eduviges Silva López- is that poverty will be eradicated and that access to food and education, to make children happier, would be possible”.