The initiative, launched in the regions of Biobio and Arauacania through “Desafio Levantemos Chile” and CMPC, is in general terms focused on driving high impact projects in a small window of time for execution, benfitting close to 600 people.
“Today, my dream of an irrigated greenhouse has come true, and it’s wonderful” says Beatrix Prado Huaiquil, one of those positively impacted by the “Desafio Agua para Chile” project in the community of Lolcura, the region of Araucania.
Like Beatriz – with her Ruka Lif Mogen (“Clean house, clean life”) just off Route R-22, roughly 7km from Villa Mininco in the municipality of Collipulli – approximately 150 families in less than 6 months, for the very first time in their lives, have access to potable water, used for two main purposes, drinking water, and irrigation.
“Here in the country we really get as much as we can out of our water. I like to have lettuce, onions, basil, cilantro, celery, parsley, cucumbers and zucchinis. I love growing vegetables, one year I had a lot, even watermelon and melons, gorgeous sweet fruit. Not having a way to water my plants is truly exhausting and I didn’t have the means to install irrigation technology, but this will turn things around, change my life” says Barbara while looking on at her 100m2 greenhouse. From this growing season onward, she will now have an irrigation system in place.
According to the Casen survey Araucania is one of the poorest regions in the country. Here 71% of homes in rural communities do not have potable water. In the face of the lack of water resources, Desafio Levantemos Chile, in conjunction with Empresas CMPC continue to promote and drive the initiative “Desafio Agua para Chile”, which in the shortest time possible are executing over 20 projects to provide this most vital of resources to the communities in the regions of of Araucania and Biobio.
Marking the official end of the projects implemented to date, projects benefitting about 600 people, a final ceremony was held at Ruka Lif Mogen, beginning with a Llellipun, a Mapuche prayer soliciting the protection for the finished works and the communities gaining from them.
“Water is a vital resource and these projects have addressed a major deficiency” declared the Executive director of Desafio Levantemos Chile, Nicolas Birrel. “We are greatly excited to see the rapid progress of the “Desafio Agua para Chile” program. What was once a dream, has now materialized in concrete, high impact, sustainable development for the community. This encourages us to continue working even harder to provide scalable and innovative solutions, working hand-in-hand with the families themselves, and help provide them with a far better quality of life”.
The General Manager of Empresas CMPC, Francisco Ruiz-Tagle, indicated: “having easily accesible drinking water is not only necessary for human growth, it is also fundamental to social development, a basic element in entrepreneurship, and essential to human dignity, the close inextricable relationship between inequity and access to basic services is known to all”.
To the previous he added: “Desafío Agua para Chile not only helps communities improve on their quality of life now they have access to drinking water in the home, it also increases income as the project will also increase crop production and harvests in fields and greenhouses through irrigation technology”.
Among those communities that now have easily accessible potable water are: Marileo in Lautaro; Saltos de Chancagua, Chanquín-Millaray, Lolcura, Igacio Levío and the neighborhood council of Lolcura in Collipulli; the community of José Cayuman and Lower Liucura in Lumaco. Soon the project for the neighborhood council of Peleco in the municipality of Cañete will be ready.
The Secretary of the Community of Lolcura, Ana Mellado, expressed her gratitude for the development and installation of a potable water system because; “we have spent many years living with a lack of water resources, so, being able to water a small area such as a greenhouse for us, is a huge improvement compared to when we had to haul in water with buckets from the well”.
Route 22, Villa Mininco, a hub of productivity
Although water for human consumption is a priority for these communities, water for productive purposes is also very important. The latter is why Desafio Agua para Chile has also worked along lines of action to provide irrigation solutions. Such was the case with the communities adjacent to Route-22, in the vicinity of Villa Mininco, municipality of Collipulli.
The project in this manner benefits families in the communities of Lolcura, Chanquín-Millaray, Ignacio Levío and the neighborhood council of Lolcura; all of them with different needs and requirements for their own production activities.
Eric Huaiquil Rojas, President of the Ignacio Levío community, was effusive in his endorsement of the initiative. “I work in agriculture, and I sell the majority of my produce. The biggest issue we have is water, so, the project covered the varied needs of the families in the community. As far as I’m concerned, I’m grateful to CMPC and Desafio Levantemos Chile for all the help we have received. The truth is we really didn’t expect it, so for me it was a great joy to benefit from the motor pump sprinkler I now use to water my crops”.
From the Neighborhood Council of Lulcura, Luz Benavides was the recipient of an irrigated greenhouse. “The project is going to help our families a tremendous amount, because the greenhouse will give us a source of income, and we are going to take full advantage of it. You really have to get the most you can out of these opportunities, they don’t happen every day. My husband and I plan to start a nursery, grow cilantro and lettuce that sell well in winter. We only work with organic fertilizer. Our quality of life is going to change with this type of greenhouse, it’s easier to work with, you don’t have to make do getting little bits of what you need from different places”.