Saturday, July 23, 2016

Project Update July 23, 2016

The project has been moving along at break neck speed! We have now presented the education program 3 times: Boca de Canada, Charco de Araujo, La Colorada. This week I went with Ceci (CEDESA) to observe the final day of the program in La Colorada. Universally the beneficiaries are finding the program both helpful but also very fun. A number of people told me that they thought spending three days in water education was going to be boring and too much time. However, after experiencing the program, they are all very excited and relate that they understand much better now the water problems of the region and why the cisterns are so important. We are administering a Pre-education questionnaire and a Post-education questionnaire so that we can measure the success of the education program. I look forward to reporting those results at a later date.

We have cisterns under construction in Charco de Araujo (14 cisterns and 3 tinacos), La Colorada (24), and Boca de Canada (21) now. We have utilized all of the special caliber chicken wire from our vendor, Hierro Comercial, and are now waiting for it to be re-stocked. It is a special factory order and will take from four to six weeks to be restocked. This is OK as we are at a point that we need to review our progress to date and take care of many details. We hope to have the final version of the Water Education Manual finished and ready to go to the printer late next week. We are moving forward on the second draft of the Cistern Construction and Maintenance Manual next week. We still have not found a suitable truck for CEDESA and without it, getting CEDESA promotors and technicians to the project sites has been a challenge. With this respite in construction, I hope we can get these important details completed in the next few weeks. Next Thursday we will have a planning meeting at CEDESA to reschedule the project details and resolve questions about the next phases of the project.
Lee Carter - July 23, 2016
Education - Boca de Canada

Group Activities - Boca de Canada

Drawing the Water Cycle - Boca de Canada

Saturday, June 25, 2016

First Presentation of the New Education Program

June 21 to June 23, 2016
Charco de Araujo, San Diego Union

After many meetings and lots of hard work on the part of CEDESA, COCIRA, UCCANG and Rotary under the guiding hands of Wendy Coulson, our expert in curriculum and adult teaching methods, the first five modules of the education program were presented in Charco de Araujo. The program is very hands-on and participatory so it is much more than just a presentation.
Their was much enthusiasm among the participants with several persons proclaiming that EVERY person in the community should have an opportunity to learn all of this!
Overall, we are very pleased. We are now teaching at Boca de Canada in San Miguel and next week Wendy and I will meet to review and talk about revisions to the curriculum and also the manual which is in its "almost final draft" form. I will let the photos tell the story. Enjoy - Lee

Saturday, May 21, 2016

May 19, 2016

Yesterday, after going to Nombre de Dios with Chela and Abel, we returned to CEDESA for additional planning of our new global grant (GG1524911) for 319 more water harvesting cisterns in San Miguel, Dolores Hidalgo, San Diego Union and San Luiz de la Paz. Present were Chela, Abel, Meche, Benigno, and Ceci.
We reviewed first the progress on the new education program and the principal objectives of that program. Meche has been working hard with Wendy Coulson to develop the program and didactic materials to go with that. We all agreed that in a nutshell our goals are:
1.       Have people fully understand that the reason for cisterns is lack of an improved water source or having water that is terribly contaminated with fluoride and arsenic.
2.       Have people fully understand that the cistern water is free from those poisons and they should never drink water from wells.
3.       Have people understand that they can improve their water and health even more by integrating disinfection steps to improve the cistern water and eliminate any biological contamination.
4.       Have people learn how to self-construct their water harvesting system and maintain it to get maximum benefit from it.

Those are our primary objectives for this project and grant. However we also will be using this opportunity to continue develop the communities capacity to work together to analyze their problems and seek solutions (resources). We want to build on this opportunity so that they can take advantage of other opportunities such as backyard gardens, medicinal medicine, beekeeping, and other eco-technologies such as gray water filtering and the eco-cina stoves. We want the cistern projects to be the first step in the long process of community empowerment.

The education program is ready now to “put to the test” in the first communities. We are going to start in Boca de Canada (San Miguel) in two weeks and then in Las Claveles (Dolores) after that. We will present the didactic materials in the “final draft” format and then make adjustments before going to press and printing enough materials to carry us through the project.

Everyone is enthusiastic and chomping at the bit to get started. They all want to work through the summer rainy season in order to be able to harvest at least a little rain before the dry weather returns in the fall. CEDESA is going to work up a draft schedule next week so we can plan out each mini-project. They are talking about doing as many as four different communities per month. Yikes, that is going to be a lot of work for all of us!

As we worked through potential pitfalls and bottlenecks in this ambitious program, we realized that we would need another technician in addition to Benigno and Abel to be able to do the site visits in each community during the construction process. A great solution was devised that will also allow us to continue to develop our youth program in the process. We will select a young person in each community where we are working to become an expert in construction and maintenance of the systems. This person will do the project monitoring throughout the construction process and will be reporting and consulting with Abel and/or Benigno as the mini-project proceeds. Instead of having a once a week visit from the technician, we will have someone there overseeing the construction on a daily basis as each group builds cisterns at each home. Once the project is complete we will be leaving behind “a community expert” who can continue to monitor cisterns and even assist in repairs as needed. We already have a budget for an albanil for the pilot week. Since each group is now obligated to provide an albanil throughout the mini-project including the pilot cistern week, those funds can be used as a stipend for developing our new community expert. CEDESA will be responsible for handling the payment process.

We also reviewed the financial resources available in the grant so that we could come up with a simplified billing plan. When we combine our organization budget with our education teaching budget, we have 2,400 pesos for Pre-Pilot expenses. For the Pilot stage of the project we have $4,750 in funds available. And for post-project monitoring and evaluation we have 900 pesos available. We budgeted for 11 mini-projects as we were developing the project but as the number of cisterns grew the number of mini-projects is likely to be 15 to 18 … thank heavens for our contingency budget!

CEDESA is to be responsible for tracking certain costs/expenses each month and reporting them to us for reimbursement. They need to record all KM driven in CEDESA vehicles in executing the projects to be reimbursed a 3.5 pesos / KM. They also need to keep all tickets from using public transportation so that can be reimbursed as well up to a total of $9000 for the project. We will also be providing an $800 peso phone allowance per month to be split up between the various promotors and technicians.

Equipment: We need to get the new vehicle as soon as possible. Rotary has $5,000 dollars to contribute to that. CEDESA has 30,000 pesos set aside as well. We are going to purchase one “very good” vehicle that will last many years into the future for project monitoring. We are going to invest about 10,000 pesos of that money in upgrading an existing vehicle. Even with two new vehicles in play, transportation will still be a headache for CEDESA. The electrode in the fluoride testing laboratory has failed and we are looking into replacing that. Initial quotations that Meche got are expensive … about US$1,500. We had not counted on needing this within the time frame of this grant. We will probably reduce our “tools” budget to get this back on-line and I will try to see if we can find outside resources to help cover this unexpected expense.

We are working to be able to get the communities on the edges of San Diego Union and San Luis de la Paz involved in this grant. To do so, the two “subgroups” will have to work under UCCANG. UCCANG is responsible for carrying out several functions … community selection, receiving solicitudes and providing monitoring and evaluation for six months after the construction phase. Integrating them into UCCANG does not seem to be a problem. The two subgroups are SECOPA (Servicios Comunitarios de Pozos Ademada – San Diego Union) and CUVA (Comunidades Unidas Para La Vida y Agua – San Jose Iturbide).

Recently a well in the San Jose Iturbide area, in the community of La Cantera, was discovered to have radioactivity in the water. There has been a high rate of documented child leukemia in that town as well. Dr. Ortega of UNAM is studying the problem to determine if this is an isolated instance of industrial contamination or if it is going to be as a result of the ever-challenging problems we are facing in the aquifer. There are 120 affected families and the government is, of course, denying that there is a problem.

Submitted by: Lee Carter

Saturday, May 7, 2016

MAY 7, 2016

About 250 campesinos gathered today in Charco de Aruajo to celebrate the culture of the Cuenca de Independencia and talk about the “defense of the territory” and other problems facing the rural inhabitants of our region. Over 20 communities were represented from San Miguel, Dolores, San Diego Union and San Luis de la Paz. All are members of either UCCANG or COCIRA – grassroots campesino organizations working together to protect their land, their rights and their water.
Fifty-seven members of the San Miguel based COCIRA arrived by bus that was generously supplemented by a special donation of the Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise. 8 promotors and Chela from CEDESA were in attendance. All the rest were members of UCCANG.
We began at 10 am with an indigenous ceremony that recognized the four winds and the four elements of life. After that a panel of three persons, Chela (CEDESA), Araceli (UCCANG) and Jesusa from San Miguel. They spoke about the importance of protecting the “territory”, using native seeds in the planting of corn, fighting to have agua “limpia” and the other outside influences that are degrading the life in the rural areas. After that four work tables (discussion groups) were set up to discuss: Water and Health, Defense of the Territory, Saving the native planting and over 60 varieties of corn and saving the flora and fauna of the campo. Each group was instructed to devise specific activities that could be taken immediately to save the cultural roots of the communities.
After this several persons offered entertainment in the form of songs, poems and special “felicidades” to the mothers in honor of Mother’s Day. Many wonderful story boards were present showing the history of UCCANG, CEDESA, the Northern Guanajuato Beekeepers Association
As always a wonderful lunch was served by members of the community. (75 miles)


Submitted by Lee Carter

Friday, May 6, 2016

A new grant for 319 water harvesting systems in Guanajuato, Mexico

Rotary San Miguel Midday has invested in over 750 water harvesting systems in the San Miguel de Allende area since 2008. We have had many partners, most Rotary Clubs, Rotary Districts and, of course, The Rotary Foundation. To date we have invested more than US$450,000 over various projects. To follow the projects from their beginning to date, please see
That blog is intended to show the history of our work and it will continue to be updated with information from this new project.
This blog is intended for those who want to follow our new Global Grant 1524911 - we may have more detail than you are interested in. It is for our 12 Rotary Club partners, 10 Rotary District partners, The Rotary Foundation and our 3 foundation partners. If you do not fall into any of those categories, you are still welcome to tag along.
I am the project "water boy", Lee Carter, and please contact me with any comments or suggestions you   may have.