Program Updates

New Water Association in Indigenous Wayúu Community

Posted Aug 24, 2015

Maicao, Colombia, August 16, 2015 – Nearly 250 members of the traditional indigenous Wayúu people in the Colombian Department of La Guajira celebrated the official establishment of their first-ever community water association, recognized by the Colombian government as the authority for new water and sanitation services in an area where thousands have endured three years of unprecedented drought, with the last significant rainfall occurring nearly nine months ago.

More than 8,000 people in communities in this remote and dusty area along Colombia’s arid north coast have benefited from a nearly three-year-old partnership with Aguayuda, a nonprofit water, sanitation and hygiene organization based in Colombia and the United States, Coca-Cola Latin America, and The FEMSA Foundation based in Mexico. Together, these partners work under Lazos de Agua, a five-country program in Latin America coordinated by the Millennium Water Alliance funded primarily by Coca-Cola and The FEMSA Foundation. Representatives of each of these partners attended Sunday’s launch event, coming from the US, Mexico, and the Colombian capital of Bogota.

The program in La Guajira includes new and rehabilitated wells, pumps, filtration systems, windmills, solar panels, and compost latrines, along with water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) education led by Aguayuda with the constant involvement of the Wayúu communities, including the three in this association - Kasichi, Wayumana, and La Parcela.

Recognition by the Colombian government of the association, known as ASOAKAWAPA (Asociación de Agua de Kasichi, Wayumana y La Parcela), is the result of years of work, and signals that benefits will grow in the future with local residents taking more responsibility in partnership with government to ensure sustainable long-term service.

“We have accompanied the Wayúu communities in the whole process of creation, development and legalization of this association,” said Simón Zimmer, Program Director and co-founder of Aguayuda.

“For us, it is essential to ensure the sustainability of our social investments,\" said Juan Sebastián Jiménez of Coca -Cola FEMSA - Colombia. \"The best way to achieve this is that communities, like the three in this association, get involved and take ownership of the project. Being empowered in this way puts their development and that of their families into their own hands, and ensures continued benefits in the future.\"

The progress of the program is publicly available and can be viewed in real time via an online platform called Really Simple Reporting (RSR). The program uses an observation system in the field called \"FLOW\" to collect, manage, analyze and display information.

Aguayuda is a member of the Millennium Water Alliance, a consortium of 16 leading non-governmental organizations working in Latin America, Africa, and Asia to help bring safe drinking water and sanitation to millions of people in partnership with communities, governments, corporations, and foundations. See “real time” updates from Aguayuda and other MWA members at http://mwawater.wpengine.com/programs/updates/?pg_id=0 .

(Content from RSR comes from John D. Sparks, Director of Advocacy & Communications
Millennium Water Alliance)

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