Behind the Scenes: Caminos de Agua’s Big Project

Behind the Scenes: Caminos de Agua’s Big Project

By Dave Barrett


Last year Caminos de Agua (Caminos) launched by far the most ambitious project in our 10-year existence. This project, named Agua y Salud (Water & Health), was developed in partnership with long-time collaborators INANA, A.C. and local grassroots organizations CUVAPAS, SECOPA, and the San Cayetano Community Center. Primarily funded by the largest grant in Caminos’ history–7.6 million pesos over three years, awarded by the Gonzalo Río Arronte Foundation, this project involves constructing no less than 330 rainwater harvesting systems in 30 different rural communities within four municipalities in our region. The municipal government of San Miguel de Allende has added an additional one million pesos to the project, and our network of grassroots organizations, NGOs, and the local communities themselves are providing more than six million pesos in the form of in-kind donations and cash support. 


The project also includes construction of 30 composting toilets, monitoring of 20 wells and the development of a “learning community” an intensive program for community leaders and collaborators in this project that utilizes a unique methodology called “narrative practices.” 


Why is this Such a Big Deal?


This is a daunting but vitally important undertaking for Caminos as the need could not be more acute: these communities have some of the most extreme water scarcity problems in the region coupled with some of the highest levels of arsenic and fluoride contamination we have registered. These rural populations are literally gasping for lack of clean healthy water.


Our community work philosophy is one of collaboration where we listen and learn what the needs and aspirations of these communities are, and we develop appropriate solutions in partnership with those who will utilize and benefit from this work. We simply cannot do this work alone. We are grateful to all collaborators.


Our Progress To Date


Work began in November 2020, and excellent progress was made in the first few months. We are working in 12 communities so far with 51 rainwater harvest systems underway, four week-long capacity training under our belt (and two more starting) and 15 dry toilets nearing completion in San Luis de la Paz. In addition we are breaking ground on an additional 25 rainwater systems in three communities in the municipality of San Diego de la Unión.


A Watershed-Scale Initiative


It is an enormous honor and responsibility that the Gonzalo Río Arronte Foundation has bestowed upon Caminos and our collaborators with this important project. For this prestigious foundation to recognize the urgent need for major investment in our region has already resulted in new interest from other organizations and government agencies working on our region’s acute water issues. And for Caminos the grant significantly increases our annual operating budget and puts the organization on a whole new level in terms of visibility within the greater environmental community in Mexico and beyond. 


Read full article at: 


La Gota

The Caminos de Agua Monthly Bulletin