Ecosystems and livelihoods

Water, soil and environmental conservation

WANI and partners supported the design of numerous community pilot projects which addressed water, soil and environmental conservation. Eighty-six pilot projects were carried out by community groups in Guatemala and 21 in Mexico. Women make up 90% of these groups, empowering them to take a more proactive role in the development of their communities, which was formerly the exclusive domain of men. Through an ecosystems approach, which focuses on environmental restoration for livelihood security, these small scale initiatives have energized the communities to self-organize and has enhanced their development opportunities.

Interventions carried out as part of the livelihoods and environmental conservation projects:

  • 18 forestry and soil conservation demonstrations and 122 management plans for conservation of community forests
  • 10 pilot projects in Chiapas facilitating development and networking of community enterprises and cooperatives working, including beekeeping, fish farming and butterfly farm ecotourism
  • Community gardens, organic farming and soil conservation projects, including organic fertilizer production at composting centres
  • Construction of septic systems to improve sanitation and water quality in the Suchiate River
  • Protection of springs for domestic water supply and installation of piped distribution
  • The establishment of a demonstration and training centre in Chiapas for integrated management of watersheds
  • Supported the building of a water treatment plant and advised on how water can be recycled in the processing of the coffee beans to reduce wastewater
  • Production of eatable mushrooms has contributed to improve food security and livelihoods

The value and benefits of increased coordination of watershed management and development was clearly demonstrated in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Stan, which struck San Marcos and Chiapas in October 2005. This storm destroyed infrastructure and caused catastrophic flooding, leaving many homeless and many fatalities in its wake. With a network stretching across the region and connecting local community organizations, municipal governments and national ministries, the Tacaná project reacted quickly and was instrumental in mobilizing responses. (IUCN 2012)