This project introduced sustainable practices to Mexican communities. “Rural and urban youth sharing, working and transforming realities” installed rainwater harvest systems, built eco-ovens, and taught communities how to cultivate mushrooms. Women there were able to use resources more efficiently and become self-employed.
- 100 families in two rural communities benefitted
- 1,000 children now have access to rainwater harvesting systems
Rural Mexico is subject to many problems typical in developing countries: a lack of infrastructure and opportunities, poverty, and precarious subsistence lifestyles. Staying healthy can be a challenge. Children in particular suffer from illnesses related to drinking contaminated water, while use of wood for fuel causes lung and throat disease among women. Nutrition as well is often lacking in rural villages.
Although they are located near major dams, the communities of Villa Victoria and San Antonio Buenavista lack water with which to drink, wash, and cook. The surrounding area is also being deforested, in part due to the use of wood for cooking fuel.
The Mexico City-based Global Youth Action Network has trained the communities on how to harvest rainwater and build eco-ovens that burn wood more efficiently, and which can also burn grass and other biomass. The specially designed stove known as “Patsari”, represents a convergence between the ancestral knowledge of building with adobe and the modern efficiency of an improved combustion chamber. The communities were also taught how to cultivate shiitake mushrooms to sell, in the model of a microfinance cooperative.
Helping the planet
Using more efficient stoves decreases the amount of wood used for fuel, helping to maintain local forests. Rainwater catchment prevents runoff and erosion from flooding, and allows the soil to absorb more water.
Kitchens are made cleaner through use of eco-ovens, reducing respiratory disease among women. The communities have benefitted from a clean, local water source, and illness among children has decreased. Since mothers don’t spend as much time seeking fuel and water, they can devote it to endeavors such as mushroom cultivating, which generates income and makes them less dependent on conventionally farmed crops.
The scale of the project has already increased, as it started with the eco-ovens and expanded to include rainwater harvesting and mushroom cultivation. The transfer of technical knowledge has given communities tools they can share. Project coordinators would like to establish a self-financing system where families generate resources, so other families may be able to replicate the process.
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