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Real solutions heard in Dolores Hidalgo

Our caravan just pulled out of Dolores Hidalgo. We were led to a central park and warmly welcomed by many community members – inhabitants of the independence Watershed.

Amidst trees full of singing bird and colourful banners,  we heard a number of representatives from local organizations speak to both the ecological problems their community faces and the inspiring community-led projects they are coordinating in response. They read a list of proposals for us to bring forward to Cancun.

Afterward, we all shared an exceptional meal of organic tamales and sandwiches with beans, local cheese and vegetables.

Dolores Hidalgo is a semi- desert region. As described throughout the evening, for them, water is life. They are facing significant challenges in securing their water sources. As described by a local water expert, the exploitation of groundwater – the majority of which is for irrigation by export-agribusiness (which is also a significant source of emissions) – is seeing the water table drop 3 to 10 metres a year. This means the region could not have enough water to meet essential needs in 50 years time. Scientific studies have found arsenic, sodium and cyanide in the water; people are getting sick.

Water emerged as a central theme to the testimonials we heard. Struggles for maintaining ownership of the land for campesino’s, respecting nature and natural resources, their changing climate and the role of education and gender equity were also important messages.

Dolores Hidalgo is a community in action. It was truly inspiring to hear people speak about the projects underway to defend land rights, protect water, challenge deforestation, promote sustainable agriculture, and so much more. These projects should be examples for communities everywhere mobilizing to advance water, climate and trade justice.

Here are some highlights:

  • In recognizing the benefits of maintaining a rural culture, one project is offering workshops on sustainable agriculture and tree cultivation for local residents. Another cooperative initiative works with small landowners to help find alternatives in the face of globalization and the threat of being forced to sell their land in order to eat, through the use of their lands for sustainable agriculture.
  • the community has an association of beekeepers –  bee farming was described as a way to produce quality food for poor rural families as well as help protect flora and fauna. They invited everyone to join them in communal bee keeping.
  • since the community is running out of water, they are looking at alternatives. A number of projects are underway to collect rainwater, helping to meet drinking water needs once purified and for food production without the use of carbon intensive chemical fertilizers. There are also a number of programmes and workshops teaching water recycling.
  • there is now a local mill and weaving workshops.
  • there is a project being led by immigrants living and farming in the community to advance fair trade in the local economy.
  • there is a project teaching tourists about the ecological challenges and different actions being taken.
  • there is an active local market and training on how to sustainably use seeds. There are education programmes on composting and recycling.
  • there is an indigenous centre and programme fighting for alternative services to meet the health needs of rural residents.
  • there is now a preservation zone of forest in their desert like region which is becoming an eco-tourist destination.
  • there are programmes helping to reduce deforestation and find alternative sources of heating fuel.
  • there are fight-backs against the industrial and agribusiness pollution of water, a nearby highway project and for land rights.
  • there is a project for building sustainable homes using local materials.