Watershed Restoration in Las Cruces

Wilber is the Las Cruces Watersheds Committee Coordinator. Part of this project focuses on conserving topsoil; to do this, residents have terraced, planted fruit trees and coffee, and planted trees like cedar.

The benefit of these terraces, says Wilber, is that they prevent topsoil from being lost on the steepest areas of their farms which are in the highest part of the watershed. “In the future, with the planting that we are doing, we are organizing the forest where before we had no fruit trees or hardwoods.”

He went on to say that the committee will continue to organize: “We want to make our community better.”

The residents of Las Cruces have worked to build 469 meters of rock terraces and 200 meters of live terraces made of grasses and trees to prevent soil erosion. Both kinds of terraces slow the speed of the rain water, allowing it to infiltrate into the ground and making the land better for crops.


"A latrine that works for me": Wheelchair-accessible latrines

Mario contracted polio when he was five. He had high fevers and never walked again after that. He spent nearly eight years crawling anywhere he needed to go until someone donated a wheelchair to him.

Mario is now 49 and lives in Piedra de Agua, El Sauce: “When it was raining and I had to go out to take care of my necessities in the old latrine, the wheelchair often got stuck in the mud.  I had to yell until someone could come and help me. It was very sad.”

When the community members approached us and asked for support to build 25 new latrines, they told us about Mario. We were able to work with the makers of the latrine shells to create a sliding door on a bigger shell to make the latrine wheelchair accessible; we also worked with the family to pave a path from the home to the latrine so Mario would no longer get stuck in the mud. The inside design was modified as well to include a bench for transferring from the wheelchair to the seat.

Mario wrote a note on the door that says, “Thank you, brothers at El Porvenir, for making my dream come true due to my disability.”

“This latrine works for me for my needs. It doesn’t matter if it rains, I can get my wheelchair into the latrine, and I have a seat where I can sit and do my necessities with ease,” he says with a big smile.


Changes in El Caracol, Terrabona

Residents of El Caracol, Golondrinas, Terrabona have built fuel-efficient vented stoves, latrines, and a water system. They are also working to restore and improve their watershed.


Doña Rafaela is 67, lives in El Caracol, and is part of El Porvenir’s volunteer community health educator program. She tells us that the project has been a great benefit for their community: “Since El Porvenir came, the face of our community has changed.”


Water is always a great need. Before having a water system, the women had to walk up to 2 km to a river to wash clothes. “Now, we have clean water at each home—and a latrine, too—which translates into health for the community,” says Doña Rafaela.


Some of the benefits that residents highlight are the workshops on how to use your latrine, hygiene talks at the schools, and when and how to wash hands. They also actively participate in and appreciate the community clean-ups of the river.


“The best part is that this project hasn’t stopped like others that have come and gone in the past. The work with El Porvenir has continuity,” says Doña Rafaela.


The community has changed significantly, according to Doña Rafaela: “Before, the children died of diarrhea, parasites, vomiting, fever—and it was because the community wasn’t clean. Above the water source, the animals roamed free. And that’s where our drinking and bathing water came from.


“Now, our water is clean, and the illnesses are gone. It’s been a complete change.”

 Doña Rafaela

Doña Rafaela

 This new stove uses 50-60% less firewood than a traditional stove and vents harmful smoke out of the home.

This new stove uses 50-60% less firewood than a traditional stove and vents harmful smoke out of the home.

Candida's New Latrine

Before Doña Cándida had her own latrine, she had to cross the highway to use her closest neighbor's latrine. Cars and trucks speed along that road all day and all night. And snakes live in the bushes alongside the road.

"One time when I was about to cross the highway at night, all of a sudden, my foot felt hot. I looked down and saw a snake. My foot started to hurt; I had a fever and vomiting. I had to go to the clinic. Thank God that's all that happened; I could have died that day."--Doña Cándida

Now that she has her own latrine, she is healthier and safer.