Posted by: indiesfaves | January 19, 2011

Adapting to Water Scarcity

As we beeline into the bullseye of climate change water will become scarce in some places and flooded in other places like the people of Queensland, Australia, are facing this week. We should start thinking about how we need to prepare and who we need to provide for such as our families and communities. The people who were impacted by Katrina can attest to the facts when environmental tragedy and devastation strikes the only people who can help you are those around you. This blog is a story about a community in Guadalajara, Mexico, who are now experiencing scarcity in its advance stages.

Here in New Mexico we have been in a drought for a number of years. While we have had more moisture than expected this the year of the La Nina, we are still below normal for precipitation. Communities that rely on snowmelt as do so many of the communities in the West; it is time to sit up and take notice of what the community of Guadalajara is facing and what they are doing to get the help they need and find some short and long-term solutions. They may be the next migrants of climate change. We hope not but it is time for people to tell their stories.

Citizens for Environmental Safeguards is working on a documentary of our own on water quality. The communities of Mexico and New Mexico are historically linked. The days in which they also relied on each other  in the years when Spain abandon the colonials and the new settlers relied on the indigenous ways to get them through each hot summer and frigid winters and worked together to grow their maize. I hope their story is one that inspires someone to help , to volunteer, and to donate to their  efforts for them to document their story in their own words.

The Story of Water Scarcity

Guadalajara, Mexico is experiencing water scarcity at an advanced stage. Lake Chapala, Mexico’s largest lake, is currently drying up. Guadalajara receives water from Lake Chapala where diminishing water, rampant pollution, and rapid population growth combine to create increasing scarcity. The communities I plan to work with are at a critical point in fighting the construction of the Arcediano dam which will force the dislocation of one community and severely threatens the health of the other.

The dam is intended to provide drinking water to three and a half million people (in a large city, growing rapidly), yet water quality of the river is extremely poor. The government refuses to prove it can be treated to a potable level. In fact, the government actively covers up the river contamination by silencing scientific and medical evidence. Communities face forced relocation and suffer from health related issues due to the River Santiago’s severe contamination.  A viable solution for residents of Guadalajara that is fair and just remains to be seen, however alternatives have been proposed by community organizations.

Adapting to Scarcity is a community water rights and media empowerment project designed to support Guadalajara’s citizen movements for environmental justice and affordable clean drinking water, and to enhance its impact, visibility and synergy with other water rights movements in the world. We are based in Guadalajara, Mexico and work in collaboration with the Mexican Institute of Community Development (Instituto Mexicano para el Desarollo Comunitario).

Our mission is to empower and connect communities adapting to water scarcity. By providing technical assistance to expand the use of social media, we are contributing to participatory grassroots organizing within local communities. Over time, we aim to improve the communication internationally among communities that are facing water scarcity. In learning how these communities interact with and organize themselves in the face of crisis, we hope to bring these lessons and models for change back to the US.

Our work empowers local communities to document and share their movements to protect watersheds and implement sustainable long term access to clean water.  Leveraging grassroots social media, our project amplifies their voices internationally. Once their story, struggle, and solutions reach the international grassroots, individual and collective movements will be strengthened. Many communities and cities are facing water scarcity in various stages; by sharing solutions and tactics, as well as failures, each cause will be more likely to preserve its water access and secure a safer future.

When the Mexican Institute of Community Development (IMDEC) agreed to work with us, they said they most need a documentary to gain exposure.  With the documentary experience of myself and my team, we feel deeply compelled to make this a reality.  In addition to creating a documentary, we are creating a web-based platform with documentary shorts and photojournalism pieces.  This media will be available for any use in support of preserving access to clean water as a basic human right. The multimedia and web-based components of the project our intended to strengthen the grassroots movement for clean drinking water internationally.

We are currently implementing our community media project in the greater Guadalajara area and distributing Flip cameras to community members and people associated with our partner organization.  Visit our Flickr photo stream to see our documentary filming in action and IMDEC’s digital photography storytelling projects we’ve been helping out.

Resources we are looking for:

1. Nonprofit/Institution Coalition Building
-partnerships, collaborations and institutional support
2. Financial Contributions
-Project funding
3. Professor/Research Collaboration

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