Water NGO shows how art helps communities better manage water

Stockholm, Sep 4 (EFE).- Art can be a way to solve the challenges related to water in Latin America, or so believes One Drop Foundation Program Director Ernenek Duran, who considers it necessary to “reach the emotions” to achieve better management.

Duran spoke to Efe at World Water Week 2022, a meeting held this week in Stockholm to address the challenges in water management and where Duran highlighted the potential of art to promote a change of behavior in people to guarantee the liquid resource.

Looking beyond infrastructure, the expert warned of the importance of taking into account the culture surrounding water, without denying that access is still one of the great challenges in Latin America, where tens of millions of people still lack drinking water.

However, “access is not everything,” insisted Duran, considering that a change in behavior is needed to encourage, for example, payment for water, since, “although some pay more and others less” depending on their level of income, “we all have our part to play.”

“The engineering part is solved,” the expert stressed, adding that “the part we have not been able to solve are these other issues that have to do with culture.”

“In many communities there is the idea that water is free and therefore there is no need to pay for it,” said Duran, whose Lazos de Agua project seeks to make people understand, through art, that “for water to reach homes through a pipe requires a service that costs money.”

The One Drop Foundation conducts studies to detect the reasons why, for example, water rates are not paid or why water is not used properly in a specific area, data that is then delivered in the form of a script to local artists, who then begin their creative process.

For example, they look at what percentage of a population is connected to sanitation networks, or how many people do or do not wash their hands, as well as the reasons behind each decision.

Once the reasons have been identified, the artists try to promote handwashing from the discipline most closely linked to the local culture of each place, be it murals, music, theater, film, photography, dance, etc.

After an artistic proposal is developed, it is piloted in a small group and, if it proves effective, it is extended to the rest of the population, explained Durán.

The creative process “has to be fun and also involve the community, which is always at the center of the methodology.”

Since its launch in 2016, Lazos de Agua has worked in five countries in the region: Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Colombia and Paraguay.

“In 2019 we did a mid-term evaluation and were pleasantly surprised to see that we had increased by a number of percentage points hand washing and rate payments.”

Halfway through the project, Duran said the proposed objectives for the initiative had already been exceeded. EFE


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