Water school equips communities across Mexico to defend public water
SAPTEMAC (the drinking water system in Tecámac, Mexico State)
Since 2001 the Mexican government has been pushing municipal governments to privatize water. If this trend continues, 35 million people will be affected and community water management – with water systems built by the people and dating back more than a hundred years in some cases – will be destroyed. SAPTEMAC is challenging this through its Water School, giving local people the tools to defend their water supply.
Mexico’s Water School came about in 2016 when SAPTEMAC representatives saw the concept at work in Colombia. With the support of national umbrella group Water For All, Water For Life – and with no major funding – professionals including lawyers, engineers, accountants, geographers and teachers have been running training sessions in different locations to give people the professional and political means to defend themselves. Topics covered include water rates, account-keeping, billing, organisation and inventories, pipes and water pumps.
So far there are 25 systems involved in the project, and water users, students and academics who have participated in the project have volunteered to strengthen the school by contributing new theoretical and political tools for use in the second round of training sessions in 2018.
Water For All, Water For Life already runs a citizens’ initiative for a General Water Law, but SAPTEMAC is now complementing this with a campaign for local water laws with the same human rights approach in 16 states around the country. The most significant result achieved to date is that colleagues from other community water systems have expressed interest in participating in the Water School project in its second round of training.
"What inspires me about this initiative is its professionalization of a collective
(community-based) water management mechanism and the explicit pedagogical dimension in the work they do. The national and international linkages
of this initiative are also very inspiring."
- Evaluator Lorena Zarate