Conclusion of Training and Support Project – Mexico
This project has been completed under the direction of Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Elena Neibaur. To read about the beginning of the project, CLICK HERE.
The project was designed to enable Elena to participate in the training of serving Peace Corps Volunteers, and assist them in the preparation and implementation of new water and sanitation projects in Mexico.
– Peace Corps Mexico held a 2.5-day technical training workshop on developing water conservation projects
– 3 site visits were held to a local subwatershed, community, and school to demonstrate implemented water conservation projects
– Participation from 16 Peace Corps Volunteers and 20 Mexican government counterparts
– Principal local facilitators: CATIS-Mexico and Isla Urbana
– Training on how to ensure water project sustainability held by invited facilitator: Elena Neibaur on behalf of Water Charity and the National Peace Corps Association
Peace Corps Mexico held a water conservation workshop from July 14 through July 17, 2015 in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. There were 16 PCVs and 20 counterparts from the Mexican government that participated in the workshop. The principal facilitators were from CATIS-Mexico and Isla Urbana. Other international organizations that participated in the workshop were Water Charity and the National Peace Corps Association, Rotary International, and Engineers without Borders-UK.
The training included site visits and technical training focusing on water conservation project development. A portion of the training focused on calculating the technical components to develop and implement rainwater harvesting systems in communities with water security issues. In addition, there was a session held by RPCV, Elena Neibaur, on how to ensure water projects are sustainable, highlighting the social component as one of the key factors.
The first day of the training focused on water conservation at a watershed level and within the context of Mexico. As part of the training, there was a site visit to a subwatershed where Mexican association Save the Laja River (Salvemos al Rio Laja, A.C.) has implemented restoration and conservation projects to reduce erosion and water pollution in the area. The same day Isla Urbana and CATIS-Mexico held sessions discussing the state of water within Mexico and the vulnerabilities of the surface and groundwater to contamination including heavy metals.
The second day addressed rainwater harvesting systems as a water security measure for the water crisis that Mexico faces currently and under precipitation variability because of Climate Change. The sessions covered topics discussing the benefits and use of rainwater harvesting systems and how to calculate the technical components at a household level.
A site visit to a local school and community presented the various types and uses of rainwater harvesting tanks. CATIS-Mexico also demonstrated the use of low-cost filters to produce potable water from the rain that is collected from roofs of houses. The site visit was followed by a hand-on exercise, calculating the size of a rainwater tank for a household.
The second day included a resource fair in the evening where organizations linked up with PCVs and their Mexican counterparts to discuss possible water projects. Elena, on behalf of Water Charity and the National Peace Corps Association, was able to connect with other interested PCVs to discuss the funding of water projects by Water Charity, as well as help a few PCVs to conceptualize their water project design and implementation in their communities.
The third day consisted of two sessions: environmental education for kids and ensuring water project sustainability. The water project sustainability session was facilitated by RPCV, Elena Neibaur, whose participation was funded by Water Charity and the National Peace Corps Association.
During Elena’s Peace Corps service in Mexico she successfully implemented 82 rainwater harvesting tanks of 10,000 liter capacity and 70 filters from CATIS-Mexico that were used to make the collected rainwater drinkable in a community with no access to potable water. In addition, she completed her M.S. in Environmental Studies where her thesis focused on determining the sustainability of rainwater harvesting systems for water security in rural, semi-arid regions using the same community as a case study.
During the workshop, Elena used her knowledge and experience to discuss how to implement a successful water project through five key components of sustainability (financial, institutional, environmental, technological, and social). These components are identified by the Dutch WASH alliance as essential to achieving structural impact. The closure of the workshop was followed by acknowledgements of the participation of PCVs and their Mexican counterparts.
Elena was able to pass on the knowledge and lessons learned from her experience in implementing water projects in Mexico. The transfer of knowledge helped interested PCVs to facilitate the process and understanding of developing a successful water project on a community level. The workshop helped Elena to develop partnerships with the current PCVs, where she has already consulted a few PCVs in the training and support of their water project development.
Water Charity and the National Peace Corps Association extend our deepest gratitude to Elena for accomplishing all of the elements of the project and demonstrating the role that RPCVs can have in the training and support of serving PCVs.