Social art, a key piece of the water supply program in Latin America

Puerto Morelos (Mexico), Nov 28 (EFE).- Theater, painting, and music were the key artistic activities that helped bring drinking water to 200,000 people through a program promoted, among others, by the FEMSA Foundation, the executive director of the foundation, Lorena Guillé Laris, said.

These artistic endeavors included elements of uses and customs and the worldview of the rural communities of the countries where the Lazos de Agua initiative was implemented.

The program’s goal was to bring water to rural communities, sanitation and hygiene to more than 200,000 people before December 2022, which the program achieved in June, but the problem remains massive since it is estimated that in Latin America there are more than 150 million people without access to water.

“We have evidence that social art helps drive this behavior change and is sustained over time,” she said.

In an interview with Agencia EFE, Guillé explained that one of the first steps in launching the initiative consisted of integrating a group of anthropologists and experts who helped to understand the way in which communities view water.

“We have had communities where there are original groups that, due to their worldview, see water as something sacred. Connecting with that reality is to accompany the communities,” she stressed.

She said she considered it extremely important that the element of behavior change be adapted to the reality of each community. Therefore, a co-design work of citizen participation is carried out to achieve this adaptation through social art, so in some communities it is through theater and in others through puppets.

“It is not enough just to ensure access, but for the sustainability of water to be ensured, behavior change is super necessary,” she said.

Lazos de Agua is a multi-sector initiative promoted by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the FEMSA Foundation, the One Drop Foundation, and the Coca-Cola Foundation. Working partners include the PLAN Foundation of Colombia, Water For People of Guatemala, Living Water International in Mexico, WaterAid America in Nicaragua, and the Moisés Bertoni Foundation in Paraguay.

IDB’s head of the Water and Sanitation Division, Sergio Campos, said he considered the Lazos de Agua project as a social innovation program that allows a greater level of effectiveness by ensuring that lessons are maintained throughout time.

“Innovation alone is not going to solve the problems, sometimes when the infrastructure is created it is not used properly, people have access to water and soap, but they don’t wash their hands, this is not just a matter of the lack of resources, but the lack of habit, of knowledge, of using it,” he explained.

Through different artistic expressions they have managed to get the people of the communities to adopt simple but highly important practices such as hand washing, he explained.

“In some places, it is music that has a much more effective effect than puppets, plays, or group dynamics, there is no specific thing that is more effective than the other. What One Drop does is together with a group of anthropologists they go to the community and get involved with them and put together a whole package of behavior change,” he said. EFE



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