Last week, South Carolina experienced the worst flooding is has seen in 1,000 years. World Mom, Sophia, shares her search for clean water after the storm last week…
Today the National Guard had two posts at which troopers were giving out clean water bottles by the case. As I prepared to go get some of this water, I thought of the safest, most effective and expeditious way of getting through the line of people waiting.
Would there be a truck at which troopers would be handing out the cases? Would there just be a group of us standing there with no adhered-to order, or would there be a line? How could I carry more than one case back to my car? I surely couldn’t get to the front of the line (or group) more than once… Maybe I should take the stroller, and put as many cases of water on it as I could take. (more…)
Photo of Celia’s saplings by Purnima Ramakrishnan
“Universal access to water is a right to all and now it is just on our doorsteps” said farmer Celia. I was traveling as a International Reporting Project Fellow, and we had just arrived in the semi-arid city of Cumaru, in the North-Eastern state of Pernambuco.
We had lunch at Joelma’s place who is a farmer in Cumaru. She made delicious rice, palma salad with lots of vegetables in it (a variety of sustainable cacti, native to the lands and which is used to feed both livestock and people). And then we went to her sister-in-law, Celia’s farm. Celia is also a farmer.
When Celia was six years old, she used to go downhill and carry water back up to her home in pots and buckets, and she recalls them being very heavy. When she cajoled her father, he sometimes let her use a donkey to bring it back home. This, the six-year-olds woke up at 3 AM every day to do. I have an 8-year-old at home, and I cannot imagine giving him such a life.
Today though, she is grateful that she can give her own two-year-old, a better life, thanks to the Cisterns project.
The average rainfall in these semi-arid lands varies from 200 to 800 mm, which is very irregular for habitation. Moreover, the amount of evaporation in these lands is three times higher than the rainfall. Hence it becomes even more important to capture the rainwater for families during the dry season. This is the concept of the Cisterns project.
The ASA (Articulation Brazilian Semi-Arid) is a network of social organisations operating in the Northeast of Brazil which aims to “empower civil society to build participatory processes for sustainable development and cope with the semi-arid land based on cultural values, and social justice.”
ASA was born from accumulated experience of organisations and social movements that have worked for years in the perspective of living with the Semi-arid climate. In 1999, the ASA presented a joint project for the Semi-arid to the society and the government, and thus the Articulation became a network.
In 2003, ASA launched P1MC (Program One Million Rural Cisterns), which aims to build 1 million water reservoirs to meet the needs of 5 million families. Currently there are 500 thousand reservoirs and the program has graduated into a public policy adopted by the Federal Budget.
These water reservoirs or cisterns are of two types. Every family has cisterns with a capacity of 16,000 litres of water for domestic use and another of 52,000 litres of water for farming and livestock use. The technology employed here is called social-technology and basically collects water from the rooftops and harvests the rainwater. The families are given a course in water management and are also requested to take a course in farming in semi-arid.
Photo of a 16000 litre cistern by Purnima Ramakrishnan
Celia says, she is now employed and this has brought about female empowerment along with water, and agriculture, all because of the cistern on her doorstep.
She cultivates small saplings and sells it to the other farmers. She grows corn, papaya, oranges, tangerine, beans, cashew, Umbu, tamarind, and many other things. She also sells the produce (though now too much) in the market and to other farmers. Her husband works in construction department in the town, whereas she lives in the village doing her farming with her two-year-old. She hopes to give a better life to her son.
She has been taught in her course to cultivate three types of plants, she says. The first is the native plants which thrives well on the soil of the area with not much dependency, and is more suited to the semi-arid climate like the Umbu. Then the plants which are not suited to the area, like corn, for which abundant water is available from the cisterns. And the third type is the plants for the livestock like Palma. This ensures that the plants give back to nature what they take from it. The soil gets enriched and also nurtures the plants. It is a two-way process.
Carlos-explaining-about-the-cisterns-and-farmer-Celia-looking-on Photo by Purnima Ramakrishnan
This seed of change stimulated by social organisations that operate in the region have prompted the development of coexistence of half-barren lands with practical goals absorbed by the government to promote sustainable living.
We asked Carlos, the program coordinator of ASA in the region, “Is this a solution for food security?” He said it is much more than that. It is a solution for independence, female empowerment because of employment in one’s own farm, it is a way to make the semi-arid a much greener place to live, it is a solution to democratize water, and make it a universal right, not a consumer product.
Celia’s son and nephew, Photo by Purnima Ramakrishnan
I remember that water was more expensive than beer in my hotel. And I now knew why! One should not pay to have to drink water, he said.
This concept can be embraced in many developing semi-arid regions.
On this Earth Day, let us pledge to make our cities greener and conserve water. Let us spread such buds of change through social media, and other channels.
How do you plan to honor this Earth Day?
This is a post written by Purnima Ramakrishnan on her #BrazilMDGs trip to Brazil as a fellow of Journalism with the International Reporting Project.
In 2000, 189 nations made a promise to free people from extreme poverty and multiple deprivations. This pledge turned into the eight Millennium Development Goals, and was written as the Millennium Goal Declaration .- United Nations Development Programme
The goal of MDG #7 is to ensure environmental sustainability. This month we are thrilled to continue our #Moms4MDG campaign by joining forces with Esquel Foundation in Brazil.
The goals of Millennium Development Goal # 7 are:
- Make sustainable development part of the policies and programs of governments and reverse the loss of environmental resources.
- Reduce and slow down biodiversity loss.
- By 2015 half the proportion of the population without sustainable access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
- By 2020, achieve a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million people who live in slums.
To tackle MDG # 7 we have partnered with The Esquel Foundation:
The Esquel Group (EG) is a private non-profit organization founded in 1984 and dedicated to stalwart citizenship as the common element in sustainable democracy and sustainable economic development. It is a member of the Grupo Esquel network with associate entities in Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Honduras and Uruguay. Its focus is strongly—though not exclusively—Latin American. It receives its support from contracted work and from donations from private, public and multilateral sources.Through seminars, presentations and training programs EG promotes national policies as well as grassroots initiatives dedicated to social inclusion and sustainable development. It fosters inquiry and action towards self governance and greater citizen engagement in public life, particularly at the local level. EG organizes a periodic policy seminar in Washington DC and conducts training on social entrepreneurship for community development, with particular focus on practices for strengthening the structure and functions of civil society networks, deliberative democracy and conflict management skills.- www.esquel.org
Meet us over at the Esquel Group blog today to read the guest post by World Moms Blog contributor Andrea Steiner! You can read her full post, here:
We will be co-hosting our#Moms4MDGs Twitter Party with Esquel Foundation, Girls Globe, and Multicultural Kid Blogs tomorrow, February 19th from 1-2pm EST to talk environment, so please join us!
P.S. Never been to a twitter party before? Go to www.tweetchat.com and put in the hashtag: “#Moms4MDGs during the party times. From there you can retweet and tweet, and the hashtag will automatically be added to your tweets. You can view all of the other party tweets at that hashtag as well!
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by World Voice Editor, Elizabeth Atalay of Documama in Rhode Island, USA.
I am forever changed by a place I never dreamed I would go, let alone live. A piece of my heart will always remain in Nigeria, and the images I saw there will forever be etched in my mind.
Each time I flip on my light switch, I remember how fortunate I am to have reliable power and not have to worry about how much fuel we have left in our generator because the power system is so unreliable.
Each time I can run clean water to drink, or for my children to bathe in, I remember how blessed I am to have a clean water supply. There were so many times my daughter’s school did not have water to flush the toilets because the water tank had run out and the water delivery trucks had broken down en route to deliver water from a bore hole.
Each time I make a call on my phone, I remember how lucky I am to have reliable phone service. There were so many times the cell phone towers were down or the internet wasn’t working. (more…)