Watershed Protection and Community Resilience in Ecuador: Update on Supporting Earthquake Recovery

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This post was written by GE volunteer Kendra Sterneck. It is an update from the project described in the October 4th, 2016 post by Sam Schlesinger.Over the past few months, Green Empowerment (GE) has made significant progress with the implementation of the Potable Water and Appropriate Technology for the Middle Rio Sucio Watershed Project. The earthquake in 2016 left many people in the Esmeraldas Province of Ecuador without access to basic services such as potable water and sanitation. This project, undertaken by GE and our local partner the ALTROPICO Foundation, aims to protect the Middle Rio Sucio Watershed, provide clean water to residents, promote sanitation and hygiene, and other activities to support environmental and human health in the region.The financial support from Christadelphian Meal-a-Day Fund of the Americas, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) , World Wildlife Fund Ecuador, and the Leiter Family Foundation, along with the contributions of project beneficiaries, has allowed Green Empowerment and ALTROPICO to support construction of a potable water system, improved cookstoves, biogas digesters, and productive reforestation activities and related training in the province. Thanks to significant community participation, eleven workshops (eight for adults and three targeted at youth) were held in the village of La Magdalena on water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) topics. Furthermore, the water system in La Magdalena has provided clean drinking water to thirty-five households and the local school since being brought online on May 3rd. GE and ALTROPICO’s constant staff presence in the region, paired with the community members’ enthusiastic involvement, has contributed to this fast progress.

A representative from UNICEF gets help from a young resident in testing one of the taps of a new water system

A representative from UNICEF gets help from a young resident in testing one of the taps of a new water system

The community’s elected water committee has collaborated with neighboring communities and participated in seminars and workshops. The workshops covered directly applicable topics such as WASH and water system maintenance, as well as broader themes, including leadership, conflict resolution and environmental protection. GE and ALTROPICO have created and distributed WASH training materials for current and future committees. To further support long-term sustainability, staff will continue to reinforce the practices highlighted in the workshops throughout the community. GE and ALTROPICO have taken the time to understand community dynamics before selecting recipients of biodigesters and improved cookstoves. Digester installation and cookstove construction in four communities are priority initiatives as we move forward with the project this summer.

Village residents listen to remarks by local leaders during the dedication ceremony of one of the new water systems

Village residents listen to remarks by local leaders during the dedication ceremony of one of the new water systems

The project will also support the establishment of tree nurseries that depend on using digester effluent fertilizer and composting-produced fertilizer. All six communities have expressed enthusiasm for nursery and cacao-cultivation workshops. Our field staff have set up initial meetings with representatives of the local cacao cooperative to learn more about potential opportunities for funding this project component. Thank you to Christadelphian Meal-a-Day Fund of the Americas, UNICEF, WWF Ecuador, the Leiter Family Foundation, local community members, and our partner ALTROPICO, who have all played essential roles in moving this project forward. Stay posted for more updates!

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