In the Wayuu worldview, our older brothers and sisters – the plants and animals – were born when Juyá, the rain, fertilised Mma, the earth. Since then, life has sprung up around the rivers and springs, which in turn must be defended at all costs. 

Several communities and individuals in the network have come together to defend the ecosystems that guard our water sources, as well as to restore their access to clean and safe drinking water. To date, the Working Group has included the Afro collective “Mujeres Guerreras de La Sierra” (Chiriguaná, Cesar), the Wayuu artisan collective “Tejemos Historia” (Barrancas, La Guajira), the company EKOFIL (Medellín, Antioquia) and multiple allies in Colombia and Germany.

Water and Life in La Sierra, Cesar

For more than thirty years, the Afro community of La Sierra (Chiriguaná, Cesar) has suffered the effects of large-scale coal mining. Among its many victims: the multiple streams and aquifers in the territory, which have been affected by the deposit of particulate matter and the seepage of heavy metals into the water. 

Faced with this situation, the Mujeres Guerreras de La Sierra, the company EKOFIL and many others teamed up to finance and install 250 clay filters in the homes of La Sierra. Produced from clay, activated carbon and colloidal silver, using ancient technologies, the EKOFIL filters are able to remove heavy metals, microorganisms and other residues from the water, ensuring that it is safe to drink. The filters have a useful life of three years, after which their main component must be replaced at a cost of around 30,000 Colombian pesos (EUR 8.00), thus offering a sustainable model for every household.

RICO launched an international collection that raised around 6,000 EUR, achieved visibility through interviews with Lateinamerika Nachrichten, Für Eine Bessere Welt and Teusaradio, academic events with the Latin America Solidarity Centre and Diskussionen für ein Neues Hispanoamerika, and even a solidarity concert with Ende Gelände, in which Lo Ke Diga El Dedo, Maiguai and Un Rayo de Sol played.

In May 2020, the filters arrived in the community of La Sierra and were distributed by the Mujeres Guerreras. They also trained the community in their use and have carried out rigorous monitoring to date: out of 250 filters, 247 are still in operation. The balance they draw is positive: the inhabitants report using their filter every day, skin conditions have decreased drastically, as well as the purchase of plastic water bags. As a sign of gratitude and solidarity, the Mujeres Guerreras even took advantage of the EKOFIL truck that brought the filters to send their own sign of solidarity. They sent hundreds of fresh fruits – mangos, mamoncillos, coconuts, etc – from their own orchards, which were distributed to vulnerable households in the Estrella de Siloé neighbourhood in Cali.