The ground trembles underfoot as we cross in front of the pumphouse – the vibrations a telltale sign that the water pump has just kicked in, pulling water out of the ground and up into the nearby water tank towering over the Valle las Zapatas community.
Communities like Valle las Zapatas have faced many barriers in the pursuit of organizing to achieve legal recognition of their Community Water Committees (CWC). Obtaining land title of the water system in the name of the CWC, acquiring municipal and national registration, and having a bank account in the name of the CWC are no small hurdles. Over the past four years, Change for Children has been working with 368 CWCs to support their efforts in achieving legal status.
Legalization allows CWCs to function more efficiently and advocate more effectively for their water needs and rights. Legalization also means qualifying for a lower electricity tariff. Much like membership to an exclusive club, legal recognition has its benefits.
But, with or without legal recognition, CWCs are not without support!
Meet Maryuri. Valle las Zapatas is part of Maryuri’s purview. It is one of 26 communities that she visits on her rounds as a trained water technician – a Circuit Rider. Circuit Riders provide water quality monitoring and technical assistance, community leader training, and capacity building to strengthen CWCs, with the goal of reducing and ultimately eliminating dependency on their visits over time.
While Community Water Committees are taking the lead in water management, breaking down the barriers that previously impeded the sustainability of community water, Maryuri is also breaking barriers in a male-dominated field. A graduate of Agroecological Engineering (and a ten-year veteran astride a motorbike!), she rides into communities trained, competent, and confident!
And isn’t that just the thing about barriers – it feels pretty great to break them.