KOEF Grant Partner Spotlight: CONADIMCHH
Water holds spiritual value to many Indigenous Peoples and this remains true in the case of the Maya Ch’orti Peoples. In addition to being the element that gives people life, water also represents wisdom, flexibility, and tranquility. All living things require water to survive, yet many communities have difficulty accessing safe drinking water. In the face of climate change, water scarcity is a growing problem and often affects Indigenous Peoples disproportionately.
Through their Guardian Youth Water Project, Honduras-based Indigenous organization Coordinadora Nacional Ancestral de Derechos Indígena Maya Ch’orti’ de Honduras (CONADIMCHH) sought to strengthen and empower Maya Ch’orti leaders through focusing on the spirituality of water. Maya Ch’orti communities have been greatly affected by the impacts of climate change due to droughts that cause water scarcity. CONADIMCHH is facilitating the exchange of ancestral knowledge from the Elders to the youth in the community in order to better harvest rainwater and address the effects of climate change. This project included multiple workshops on various topics and concluded with the construction of a water well.
CONADIMCHH was able to follow through with this project despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Through the hard work and perseverance of community leaders, CONADIMCHH held three workshops that hosted about 50 participants each. To prevent the chances of contagion, activities were carried out in an open field in forested areas near the community’s water sources.
The first workshop was held on September 26, 2020, and hosted leaders of the water board. The workshop included a spiritual ceremony asking for an abundance of rain so that there is enough water in the sources to supply the communities According to community member Comrade Victoriano, “the ceremony is an ancestral tradition, which is being lost, but with the grant [from the Keepers of the Earth Fund] it has once again been strengthened with the participation of men, women, Elders, youth, and children.” This exercise promoted the transmission of knowledge of Mayan Ch'orti beliefs and values about nature, successfully conveying ancestral knowledge from generation to generation.
The second workshop, held two weeks later on October 10, provided the youth of the community with knowledge on the protection of mountains, forests, and water. This workshop allowed young people to commit themselves as permanent guardians in the protection of water basins, forests, and mountains that are important for supplying the Maya Ch’orti community with water.
The final workshop was held one week later on October 17 and featured rainwater harvesting methods. This workshop successfully transmitted important knowledge to the Maya Ch'orti community from leaders of the water boards and community councils about the installation of a rainwater harvester well system and the benefits it has for the families of the community project.
As an additional part of this project, CONADIMCHH aided in the construction of a water harvesting well that benefited a family of seven. This project also included a field tour to the Ch’orti las Flores Camotan Chiquimula Mayan Indigenous community to share their experiences with the rainwater harvester. This entire project strengthened the community’s management and use of water and benefited 300 children and adults. Although this project, supported by a grant from Cultural Survival’s Keepers of the Earth Fund, cannot fully cover the great need of the Maya Ch’orti, the community has now shared ancestral knowledge and practices that will be used to adapt to the changing climate.
Keepers of the Earth Fund (KOEF) is an Indigenous Led Fund within Cultural Survival designed to support Indigenous Peoples’ community development and advocacy projects. Since 2017, through small grants and technical assistance, KOEF has supported 182 projects in 36 countries totaling $791,838. KOEF provides, on average, $5,000 grants to grassroots Indigenous-led communities, organizations, and traditional governments to support their self-determined development projects based on their Indigenous values. Predicated on the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Cultural Survival uses a rights-based approach in our grantmaking strategies to support grassroots Indigenous solutions through the equitable distribution of resources to Indigenous communities.