Visiting Homes for ClearWater


Photo: Mitch Anderson

By Alex Goff, Field Coordinator Over the past two years ClearWater has been refining the process of building rain catchment systems with the indigenous nationalities of Ecuador’s northern Amazon rainforest. An early step, and one of most important in this process, is to visit every home in the communities that will be participating in system installations. This serves a number of purposes: it gives the ClearWater team a chance to meet all of the families in a community, to get to know the layout of the community and the local geography, and to ensure that the number of households on the list submitted by the community leadership is correct, that the houses have been built and are inhabited.

ClearWater coordinator for Orellana, Ramon Gaba, visits with Waorani families in the community of Tobeta. Photo: Mitch Anderson

House visits take place on days that families are most likely to be at home and not working in their gardens or outside of the community. The local community coordinator leads house visits because he or she knows the community members and can communicate in the local language. This is an important opportunity for the coordinator to begin taking on his or her role, and for community members to get to know them within this role. During house visits, the coordinator explains the construction process to each beneficiary and asks for his or her cooperation; ClearWater believes that family participation is essential to the sustainability of the project. During the initial visit a future community meeting is arranged with all families as an opportunity to further explain the project, how the systems function, and how the work will be carried out. During this meeting the local technicians are elected by the community.

Ramon talks with a community member about rainwater catchment systems in the community of Miwaguno. Photo: Mitch Anderson

Because ClearWater is a movement led by the indigenous nationalities, and because together we are building clean water solutions to a regional health crisis, house visits mark an exciting time in the process of building rain catchment systems. Beneficiary families are excited about the prospect of collaborating to build the systems that will provide their homes with safe drinking water, and they are proud that this is a process that will be lead by local technicians from community. Spirits are high, chicha is served; the movement grows.

Nelly, a Cofán woman from the community Ukavati, serves chicha during a visit to her home. Photo: Alex Goff