Gavilan Water Project – Mexico

This project is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION.

This project has been completed.  To read about the conclusion, CLICK HERE.

Gavilan, Chiapas, Mexico

Community Description
There are 38 families, with 216 inhabitants, living on the slopes that drop inland from the two-lane highway on the Continental Divide above. Gavilan is one of the remaining villages where elders still speak their original Mam language. They have been trying to revive their language so that youth will take an interest in their Maya roots. However, it is a poor community that offers little opportunity for young people. Many of them have opted to go to the United States to work to bring back money that would allow them to build a house for their young families.

The homes are typical of the region, is made of adobe with corrugated metal roofs with dirt floors. The people in Gavilan make a living off their land. They produce subsistence crops, mainly corn and beans, raise a few chickens, and sell squash on the edge of the highway at the end of the season. There is no coffee or other cash crop produced to afford them an income. Men try to find work as builders when possible. At least four households are headed by women whose husbands are working as undocumented immigrants in the U.S.

Problem Addressed
It has been well over 30 years since the government built a well-designed water system that has served the Gavilan community all these years. It withstood two major hurricanes and strong earthquakes. However, many sections of the galvanized steel pipe have corroded beyond repair, leaving the community to try to patch leaks as best they can with strips of tire inner tube or plastic bags. Whole sections leak with no way to stop the loss of vital water.

Now, in the summer of 2018, the Sierra Madre region is experiencing record heat and a drought that has everyone who must rely on the seasonal rains worried over how they will manage to raise the corn that they depend on to feed their families. By late July, the dry spell has lasted 5 weeks when normally raging thunderstorms should be replenishing the aquifer for the coming year. Throughout the region, the corn is drying up along with the hope for a good crop to provide the tortillas that are the mainstay of the diet of thousands of families in the high country.

Massive deforestation of the watershed took place several decades ago. As a result, there has seen a substantial drop in the amount of water flowing from springs and creeks. The people of Gavilan are worried that the water source they have relied on for all these years is flowing low due to the drought. This has never happened before in the middle of the rainy season.

Fortunately, thirty meters to the south of the existing water system there is a creek that has continued to flow despite the lack of rain. Next to that is another seep that can be diverted to feed into the upgraded system. The community has the rights to use that water.

Project Description
This project is to restore full water service to Gavilan by replacing damaged piping and building a catchment dam.

In order to ensure an adequate amount of water for the needs of the population, they intend to install 30 meters of new 3-inch galvanized steel pipe to the creek nearby in order to connect it to the mainline that flows into the existing tank from which it will be distributed to the homes.

A catchment dam will be built at the second source to collect the water. There is a third creek that they can divert to feed into the catchment dam. This will mean that two additional small, creeks will feed the system. They have verified that these two creeks flow all year long.

The men in the village are confident that they can do the work themselves to upgrade their water system. The people are delighted at the possibility that after years of unsuccessfully petitioning the municipality, there is hope that they can finally end the daily difficulties of not having enough water.

This project will provide water for domestic use to 38 households and supply water to the elementary school where children from Gavilan and surrounding communities receive an education.

Project Impact
216 people will benefit from the project.

Project Administration
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, bringing water into the homes of over 8,000 people in the region.

Work will proceed in coordination with the Gavilan Water Association.

This project is the 18th water system project in the ongoing Sierra Madre Water Program, a comprehensive effort to improve water access in the underserved and impoverished Sierra Madre de Chiapas region of Mexico, spanning the border with Guatemala.

Fundraising Target

Donations Collected to Date

Dollar Amount Needed
$0 – This project has been funded through the generosity of Michael and Carla Boyle, of Nelsonville, Ohio.

Additional donations using the button below will go to future projects in Mexico.