Paraguay Lower Chaco
$56,259 needed of $120,000
Church World Service (CWS)
The Gran Chaco region is an immense and little-heard-of region in the heart of South America. It is the biggest forest reserve on the continent after the Amazon and one of the largest dry forests in the world. A major ecosystem, it is also a region with great cultural diversity, home to 25 different indigenous ethnic groups including communities of Guarani, Wichi, Qom and Enxet Sur, who for centuries lived as semi-nomadic hunter gatherers before losing most of their land.
The purpose of this three‐year program is to partner with 588 families (approximately 2,200 people) in six indigenous communities (16 villages) of the Paraguayan Chaco region of South America to create durable improvements in the areas of access to water, food security, community development and organization. The program provides culturally‐sensitive technical assistance in family and community farming and livestock, community capacity‐building and support indigenous‐led advocacy.
Celebrating Water Availability
Niño says there’s a new 2,600-gallon storage tank in his community to hold rainwater collected from rooftops. He celebrates the fact that no one has to walk long distances for water anymore.
“We’re doing great,” he says. “The women now have water for cooking and household needs. We used to have to spend the day walking so far to get water, and lugging it back. Now we have water to drink and we can use it for our vegetable gardens, and even for our animals. Our children can easily wash their hands now, so fewer of them are getting sick from waterborne diseases.”
In 2021, a severe drought affected agricultural production all over the country, especially small producers like Niño who grow vegetable and fruit crops such as yuca (or cassava, a starchy tuber), watermelons, melons, and pumpkins. The drought rang in the new year in 2022, but the rains finally arrived in June and families were able to plant their kitchen gardens. The new tank means they can keep the plants in both household and community gardens watered. During prolonged droughts these tanks can be refilled by water trucks paid for by the State when emergencies are declared.
Pastoral Social continues to collect relevant information on soil structure and geography in the different communities. This will be used to develop plans for water infrastructure to meet the needs of other communities during prolonged periods of drought. The local team plans to extend training to 240 more families in the second half of this year, so that everyone will understand the process of rainwater capture, use this resource equitably and keep it clean.
Men generally make decisions around water infrastructure and usage, but it is the women who most suffer the consequences of water scarcity and poor sanitation. Thus, Pastoral Social is planning a series of workshops related to gender, water, and hygiene, working closely with an initial community to design the training.
Paraguay Lower Chaco Program
Led by Church World Service and Local Partner Pastoral Social Diocesana de Benjamín Aceval