The Dry Corridor, a naturally arid zone stretching from southern Mexico to Costa Rica, is subject to devastating droughts and intense human poverty.
Yet in Chiquimula, Guatemala, a government collaboration with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization has helped hundreds of families install home rainwater catchment systems that are mitigating these effects.
The simple and inexpensive ponds are used for subsistence crop irrigation as well as for cash crops such as as amaranth, cilantro and farmed tilapia.
Ongoing struggles over water privatization in Mexico and El Salvador are the flip side of the public-interest coin.
Members of the Agua para Todos (Water for All) coalition were in Mexico City this summer to contest the government’s concession of water rights for uses such as fracking, mining, and bottled-beverage plants. Around 300 catchment basins yielding 51.5 million cubic meters of water annually have been given over to industry.
Water protests are also ongoing in El Salvador, shutting down a highway in June, and spurring a larger day of protest on July 5. Activists complain that a Constitutional amendment to protect water rights is toothless, a claim disputed by politicians backing the amendment.
As of August 22, the amendment appears to be gaining traction in the country’s legislature.
Sources: El País (Spain), La Jornada (Mexico), El Mundo (El Salvador), Truthout (United States), BN Americas (Chile, United States)