Secure nutrition thanks to sustainable agriculture and improved water supply for indigenous smallholder families: this is the declared goal of the project in the Andean highlands of Ecuador. Agro-ecological agriculture forms the basis for long-term problem solving. Smallholder families learn modern cultivation techniques adapted to the location and apply the knowledge acquired. Besides better water supply, the project objectives include species-appropriate small animal breeding and husbandry, energy-efficient kitchens, sanitary facilities and training in political participation.
There is more and more freak weather. In the rainy season it stays dry, but in the dry season it rains more and more often. And the rain is unusually heavy. Floods, soil erosion, disrupted production cycles in the fields – here, at 3,000 metres above sea level, people have long been familiar with the ugly side of the effects of climate change.
Water is a precious resource. With its dense grass cover, the páramo provides vegetation that can absorb a great deal of water – an important natural water reservoir for the area. But the pàramo is endangered, in no small part because more and more trees are being planted that have no place here.
Fixed water tariff: each family pays the equivalent of one franc per month. The money is mainly used to pay the water keeper. Any surplus goes into a fund.
Everyone helps – even with money
If water-catchment and spring areas are to have permanent access to water, they must be better protected and more sustainably managed. This can only work if local grassroots groups receive technical and financial support and are strengthened in organisational terms.
Organised by SWISSAID into water committees, the groups are building and fitting up seven drinking water supply systems for 1,750 people. 76 small-scale irrigation systems ensure that whatever smallholder farmers plant will now thrive until the harvest.
SWISSAID’s approach has already borne fruit in three villages in Guangaje: “We received building materials and made a financial contribution ourselves. Then we all built a large reservoir and laid water pipes,” says Daniel Otto Lutuala, president of the water committee in Candela Fasso. His counterpart in Tigua Rumichaca is delighted with the result: “In the past we didn’t even have water for cooking here – today the houses are linked to a water supply and families have access to clean drinking water around the clock,” says Juan Manuel Chusín.