Collaborative Effort Brings Water and Soil Restoration to Bolivia

A Report from the One Water Network EVI

The One Water Network EVI Bolivia began after a chance meeting with Marion Remus in Findhorn. She captured our interest with stories of the ecological agriculture school in Cochabamba run by Alberto Melgar called CENFOTEC. This school supports both young rural farmers and orphans from throughout the country to learn practical skills that will provide them with a livelihood and support the Earth. EVI (Ecovillage Institute) is an ecological design and engineering partnership offering ecological design solutions for the transition to a sustainable future. On learning that CENFOTEC had a serious water problem where sewage from the dormitories was polluting the ground water, we were eager to offer our assistance. Galen Fulford went to Cochabamba and built a constructed wetland with students from the school. This visit was the seed of a strong collaboration between EVI and CENFOTEC.

org/onlinecommunity/articles/Lisa-&-Galen.jpgEVI partners Galen Fulford and Lisa Shaw spent eight months in Bolivia in 2004-2005 working with CENFOTEC and the village of Puka Puka on collaborative water projects. As part of the collaboration, EVI sponsored Alberto Melgar to come to Findhorn to participate in the Ecovillage Training. During the training Alberto shared with the community his wisdom and passion for supporting Bolivian farmers and was able to bring back useful skills he had learned during the month-long training. EVI’s simple and effective whole systems approach is to:

1.      Train community leaders, local authorities and teachers who have the capacity to convey information and inspire a wide population.

2.      Implement crucial water supply, sanitation and land restoration systems that provide immediate relief and hands-on experience to local people.

3.      Support the network of new trainers to bring their experience and skills to other communities struggling with inadequate water, sanitation and degraded land.

Galen and Lisa returned to Bolivia in the spring of 2007 for two months, holding trainings of trainers and working in five villages. Three thousand trees were planted in the village of Puka Puka in 2007 and the EVI Bolivia expert in ecological agriculture has been leading a series of workshops supporting fifteen families to switch to chemical free farming. Puka Puka has tripled the number of composting toilets for their schools and they have invented an excellent urine separating squat design. Thirty students from indigenous farming communities all over Bolivia participated in practical service projects providing families with potable water, composting toilets and tree planting in six villages, and now these students have the skills to implement these projects in their own communities.

The energy and enthusiasm that Marion Remus shared with us in Findhorn, and the passion and commitment of Alberto Melgar, led to a successful collaboration and the forming of a network of water stewards that work together for the restoration and sustainable use of water and soil.

Lisa Shaw
Bolivia, 2008

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