USA: Waiting for Water After Hurricane Joaquin

USA: Waiting for Water After Hurricane Joaquin

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…)


I am a mom amongst some other titles life has fortunately given me. I love photography & the reward of someone being really happy about a photo I took of her/him. I work, I study, I try to pay attention to life. I like writing. I don't understand many things...especially why humans treat each other & other living & inanimate things so vilely sometimes. I like to be an idealist, but when most fails, I do my best to not be a pessimist: Life itself is entirely too beautiful, amazing & inspiring to forget that it is!

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Field Report From #BrazilMDGs : Water On Our Doorstep This Earth Day

Field Report From #BrazilMDGs : Water On Our Doorstep This Earth Day

Photo of Celia's saplings by Purnima Ramakrishnan

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

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

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.


Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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#Moms4MDGs MDG #7 With Esquel Foundation in Brazil

#Moms4MDGs MDG #7 With Esquel Foundation in Brazil


#Moms4MDGs Button copy


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.-

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! 

#Moms4MDGs MDG7 Feb 19


P.S. Never been to a twitter party before?  Go to 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.  


Elizabeth Atalay

Elizabeth Atalay is a Digital Media Producer, Managing Editor at World Moms Network, and a Social Media Manager. She was a 2015 United Nations Foundation Social Good Fellow, and traveled to Ethiopia as an International Reporting Project New Media Fellow to report on newborn health in 2014. On her personal blog,, she uses digital media as a new medium for her background as a documentarian. After having worked on Feature Films and Television series for FOX, NBC, MGM, Columbia Pictures, Warner Brothers, 20th Century Fox, and Castle Rock Pictures, she studied documentary filmmaking and anthropology earning a Masters degree in Media Studies from The New School in New York. Since becoming a Digital Media Producer she has worked on social media campaigns for non-profits such as Save The Children, WaterAid,, UNICEF, United Nations Foundation, Edesia, World Pulse, American Heart Association, and The Gates Foundation. Her writing has also been featured on, Johnson & Johnson’s,,, and Elizabeth has traveled to 70 countries around the world, most recently to Haiti with Artisan Business Network to visit artisans in partnership with Macy’s Heart of Haiti line, which provides sustainable income to Haitian artisans. Elizabeth lives in New England with her husband and four children.

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