Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Lake Titicaca

I have now been to Lake Titicaca 3 times to help in the planning stages of a new environmental project. The meetings that have been held in the community in which we shall be working have been very interesting to see how my colleagues work and interact with the leaders to explain about the project and to show that we are here to fulfil our promises and not just talk about projects as they have experienced in the past. The project is to help them combat the problems of water pollution that is sent down the river to them from the city and some other towns, this includes household waste as well as waste from industry. It is in some ways even harder for them as these places receive clean water from the upper parts of their municipal area and then dump all their wastewater in the rivers that come down to them. So the project will be looking to work with these communities in decontaminating their water and land, as well as working with the industry and government bodies to prevent future pollution of the rivers.

In this last meeting we looked at what the leaders thought they needed in order to help their communities develop and then individually to choose the top 3 things that were important to them. Then my colleagues worked with them to select from these ideas what would help develop the environment, as this is an environmental project, then what they could get funding for from the project. In all of this my colleagues were not undermining the validity or importance of any of their ideas, but helping the leaders to realise that there was a limited scope of options available within this project. But at the same point wanting their ideas as to what will help them and also looking to seek other options for some of the other ideas they had.

The last part of the day was to talk with the leaders about a name for the project in Aymara. The name in the proposal is long and scientific so we wanted the leaders to choose a name in their native tongue. The came up with 7 or 8 all really good, then we had to work on persuading them to choose one of the names that was shorter (as well as pronounceable by other Bolivians let alone us foreigners) and would work when introducing the project, so in the end they selected the name ‘Wiñay Jakaña’ meaning ‘vivir siempre’ in English ‘living always'

So within this project what is my part going to be?
Well at present it is not completely clear but it will involve making maps of the watershed area (the area of land from which precipitation or surface water flow is drained into a receiving water body), working out ways to monitor the quality of the water and implementing it and running training (in Spanish!) on environmental topics as well as and slightly more scary training challenging some of their believes that will help them develop personally.

Each community lead wears a 'chicote' a band of authority, which is a year long responsibility and passes around the different families in the community. This means they are involved in all areas of community life births, deaths and marriages, conflicts, meeting with local government and much more 24/7. Their chicotes remind me of the old metal style bicycle pumps!

Food is an important part of hospitality here and very time we go they bring out something for us to eat (as well as coca leaves to chew on). This was different types of potato with homemade cheese in a spicy sauce. The last time we went they gave us a bowl with a yellow soup like dish with potatos (fresh and dehydrated), onoin cheese (and what seemed like a kilo of salt!! Bolivians do like their salt). I ate the first bowl full in my usual fast way and when offered more I said I was fine and was then brought out another full bowl, which I had to sit up straight to fit in!

1 comment:

Lindy Morgan said...

‘Wiñay Jakaña’ = everlasting life...'come on!'