The Water Project
About the Implementing organization
Name: The Ceibo Alliance
Year of establishment: 2015
Type of organization: Community-based association or organization, Legally recognized non-profit status, Women’s association or organization, Indigenous group or organization
The Ceibo Alliance Water Project is working to install rainwater catchment systems in every Cofan, Secoya, Siona and Waorani family’s home in the region to ensure that all members of the nationalities have access to clean drinking water. The water program was created as a direct result of the public health crisis that gripped the region following repeated oil spills and waste-water dumping into rivers and other rainforest waterways that were the only water sources for indigenous people to drink, preparing food with, and bath in. This project started in 2012 and has since installed over 1,000 systems in over 50 communities around the region, filling a basic need that neither governments nor other organizations were effectively addressing. The installations are almost complete, with only 129 systems left to install. Beyond the simple and low-cost design of the rainwater catchment systems, the initiative is innovative in its participatory-model, training community members as technicians who are responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of all of the water systems in their communities. This aspect of the program builds local capacity, increases community involvement and ensures that the systems are always serving the families. Through the Water Project, Ceibo has created a model for indigenous-led solutions-based initiatives that can be adapted and replicated in communities across the globe.
Forests / Rivers
Type of Action
Sustainable use / Access and benefit sharing / Pollution prevention / clean up / Advocacy for land & water rights
Sustainable Development Element
Water security / Disaster risk reduction / Health
The rivers upon which the indigenous inhabitants of Ecuador’s northern Amazon rely for drinking water have been unrelentingly contaminated by massive oil operations, large-scale African Palm plantations, sediment run-off from roads carved through the jungle, and untreated wastewaters from nearby urban settlements. Water in the region is unsafe to drink.
Without options, and with their traditional way of life undermined by reduced territories and contaminated forests, some of these communities have been forced into making decisions for the short-term survival of their families. Through the Water Project and rainwater catchment system installation, Ceibo is providing communities with the ability to make choices based on the long-term survival of their families, their cultures and the environmental health of their ancestral homelands.
Sustainable Development Impacts
Lack of access to clean water has resulted in devastating public health issues in the region, including an increased prevalence of diseases like cancer, as well as other health consequences such as spontaneous miscarriages, bloating of the intestines, chronic diarrhea, fever, severe fatigue, weight loss, and skin rashes. Ceibo’s Water Project has provided safe and sustainable access to clean water for approximately 6,000 indigenous people across the region. Each system holds 2,200 liters of clean water. The estimated use per family per day for drinking, cooking and washing is 200 liters, or 73,000 liters per family per year. The systems themselves are made from strong materials to ensure their durability and are expected to last for over 20 years. Through its participatory methodology, the Water Project also strengthens community resilience and collaboration through meaningful social exchange and collaborative work amongst members of different indigenous nationalities.
The Water Project started in a few affected communities of the Cofan nationality and has expanded across the region to over 50 Cofan, Secoya, Siona and Waorani communities of the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon, accounting for over 1000 families who now have access to clean water. Reliable access to clean water is a universal need across the region and the family-sized rainwater catchment systems offer a solution that is both effective and feasible to implement and expand. The mission of the Ceibo Alliance is to support the four native indigenous nationalities of the Northern Ecuadorian Amazon and the organization is proud to actively support the expansion of the Water Project to all target communities. Ceibo has and will continue to share its highly effective model and methodology with other organizations working in different communities in Ecuador and other parts of the Amazon.
The Water Project started in a few communities in 2012 and provided immediate health benefits; rates of diarrhea, infant sickness and other health issues decreased significantly in the months following system installation. This first installation of rainwater catchment systems has since been replicated in over 50 communities across the region. Ceibo has shared its methodology and design with others facing a similar need for reliable and inexpensive access to clean drinking water.
The participatory approach, in which indigenous community members have been involved from the outset in the design of the water systems and the implementation, and contribute to the project’s success with their labor and with raw materials, has also been replicated throughout Ceibo’s other program areas. Through the Water Project, Ceibo has created a model for indigenous-led solutions-based initiatives that can be adapted and replicated in communities across the globe.
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