Empowering Amazon River Communities

Bringing clean water to communities in the heart of the Amazon Rainforest isn’t easy. Logistical obstacles, and distrust of outsiders can make it difficult to provide clean water technology to remote communities, but the impact can be transformative.
Grace Obeda
June 22, 2021

Empowering amazon River Communities

By Michelle Bechchar 

The Amazon rainforest is the world’s largest tropical rainforest and is famed for its biodiversity. Through the rainforest, the Amazon river flows, the largest river in the world in terms of volume and area of its basin. The Amazon river basin not only is home to a variety of wildlife, but also to many groups of people who have developed lifestyles that are well integrated with the rainforest. 

Protecting Amazonian Communities

Our partners at RMDLT, a property management group that works to conserve the Amazon Rainforest, are working with one of these groups, the Ribeirinho peoples of Portel, Pará, Brazil. They first saw the need for water filters when they were doing a project to preserve the forest from deforestation. Their goal is to protect the forest and the local customs of the people as well as give them a better way of life. As part of this work, they interviewed the local people to understand their most pressing needs. In addition to social needs like school and health centers, clean water is a big need. There is a lot of pollution in the Amazon river that is a result of logging, ore extraction, cattle ranching and other activities on the river. The water actually causes many health issues in the communities.

Once the RMDLT team knew of the need for clean water the VERRA REDD+ program funds were used to purchase VF100s and VF200s. REDD+ projects play an important role by implementing site-based activities that directly engage local communities to stop deforestation and forest degradation effectively. While government strategies and programs provide the legal and policy frameworks for addressing deforestation and degradation, projects are able to work deeply in a particular place with local communities to address site-specific drivers of deforestation and degradation, driving finance to these critical high-threat areas and the communities that depend on them. As part of their regular work along the river, like providing high efficiency cookstoves, sharing techniques for protecting the forest, and working towards social development goals (SDGs), they distributed the filters. 

The impact of clean Water

The response was very positive when the communities first received the filters. The team did training on how to backflush the filters, the recommended maintenance for the filters, so that the community would be able to make the filters last for many years. When the team followed up a few months later, the locals shared that their health improved when they stopped drinking directly from the river. They were very grateful and pleased that the group provided the means to deliver clean water to their communities.

RMDLT’s long term goal is to provide even more filters through the next year and expand to even more communities. This is to improve the overall quality of life for the Ribeirinho peoples.

Community in need of clean water in the Amazon

This story highlights the importance of ownership in filter projects. When communities realize the benefits of clean water, they are more likely to drink the water consistently and maintain the filters properly. This leads to an even bigger health transformation.

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