Loma Bonita Water Project – Mexico
Ejido de Benito Juarez region is the latest in our Sierra Madre Water Program – Mexico & Guatemala
Location: Barrio Loma Bonita, Ejido de Benito Juarez, Chiapas, Mexico
Community Description: Loma Bonita is a neighborhood of 41 homes on the western edge of the settlement of Benito Juarez. It is home to 235 people. At that elevation, the weather is cold most of the year. They harvest their corn months after people down the mountain do. On a clear day one can see all the way to the massive Tacaná volcano on the Guatemala border. The two-lane highway that connects to towns deep in the Sierra Madre passes through the settlement with homes located on either side.
This is a place that is prone to natural disasters” said a member of the water association when explaining why life is so challenging for residents of Loma Bonita. In recent years there have been major earthquakes including an 8.2 magnitude quake 3 years ago. Some families continue to live in damaged homes in spite of the risks for lack of the means to repair them. Most homes are made of metal sheeting or adobe. Some are made of cinder-block.
The people rely on their luck growing corn and beans for a year’s subsistence. Some raise the iconic Chilacayote squash that they sell on the side of the road in the fall. Extreme weather in recent years has made even raising these crops difficult. There have been prolonged droughts in the middle of the growing season. Heavy rains can also ruin crops. In 2020, strong winds toppled the corn leaving people with little to feed their families. There are no other opportunities for employment. As a result, the standard of living is very poor. There is one family that is taking advantage of a new program that provides assistance to produce avocado trees. In 4 or 5 years this will provide a commercially valuable crop to sell.
The Problem to be Addressed: The population in Barrio Loma Bonita has grown in recent years as young couples set up households and begin families. They have a water system that was built by the state many years ago but it no longer provides enough water to meet the needs of the community. The catchment dam is in disrepair so a lot of water leaks out. The local government, Ejido de Benito Juarez, granted the community ownership of their water source many years ago. Fortunately, the creek is a reliable source that continues to flow during the long dry season. The people want to create a second water line and storage system so that there will be enough water for all and the underserved households now at the end of the existing water line will receive enough water for their needs.
Project Description: The project will involve establishing a second water line from the original source and bringing it to a collection system next to the community’s public meeting hall. The first step will be to repair the aging dam to prevent the leakage of water. Three kilometers of 2-inch polyduct hose will be installed through the forest, passing under the highway, and ending at the storage system. Teams of men will work together to do the work until it is completed. To create the storage system we will build a cement floor where 4 prefabricated plastic water tanks will be installed. Each will hold 2,500 liters of water. Families will connect their individual hoses to these tanks. The project will provide water to all households in the community, the community meeting house, an elementary school with 50 students and the kindergarten. In addition to empowering families to live with more ease, having water on tap will make it possible for them to grow vegetables in small family gardens to augment their diets.
Administration of the Project: The project will be administered by Tamara Brennan, Ph.D. of The Sexto Sol Center for Community Action, an award-winning non-profit that has had a permanent presence in the region since 1997. This project will be part of the on-going work of the Sierra Madre Water Program, a comprehensive collaboration of the Sexto Sol Center with Water Charity and the National Peace Corps to improve water access in the underserved and impoverished communities in the Sierra Madre region of Chiapas, Mexico and Guatemala. To date this multi-year effort has brought water to more than 10,500 people.
Monitoring and Maintenance The people are well organized and committed to doing the work needed to secure water for all. The elected leaders who comprise the water committee oversee the maintenance of the system. They are anxious to begin the work and are committed to working collaboratively under the direction of the leader of their water committee. The people in Loma Bonita want to express their gratitude for the opportunity to solicit this support that would significantly improve their lives. We are grateful to Michael and Carla Boyle of Foster, WV for providing the funding for this project.
This project has been completed. To read about the conclusion of the project, CLICK HERE.