Promoting Environmental Sustainability in Mexico through Community Screenings

By Nancy Gocher, N-Map’s Project Manager in Mexico City

Mexico City faces a large environmental crisis. Often when the City’s residents have water in their homes, it is at the expense of water access in neighboring cities and towns. This was the case in the Valley of Chalco, Tlahuac, in the State of Mexico, where overuse and mismanagement of the region’s water resources resulted in drastic environmental consequences that severely impacted inhabitants. To address this, La Comisión de Cuenca de los Ríos Amecameca y la Compañía (CCRYAC) created a “Hydric Plan” that proposes a number of feasible solutions to promote environmental sustainability in the area, such as filtration wells that prevent further water loss, recovery of forest areas to retain water, and construction of a water treatment plant.

In 2014, N-Map together with Controla tu Gobierno and the Comisión  de Cuenca produced a video called The Water at the Foot of the Volcano that tackled the challenge of  explaining the many components of the Hydric Plan, as well as clearly outlining who would benefit from its implementation.

The Water at the Foot of the Volcano-CCRAYC (Amecameca 2015) from New Media Advocacy Project on Vimeo.

Beginning now, and extending through May we’re going to launch three new videos that explain a number of important projects included in the Hydric Plan. The first, Treat the Water for Life, describes some of the key issues surrounding water usage and quality and lays out the basics of how the Plan would resolve them.

For the Plan to come to fruition, it’s critical that people in affected communities learn about the Plan’s elements and get involved with the Comisión’s efforts. When we started the project, we realized that to truly have an impact, video distribution couldn’t rely solely on social networks–it had to be flexible and responsive. To ensure that the Comisión is able to mobilize its target communities, we worked together to organize a series of screenings in different localities throughout the State, enabling us to directly engage the communities that are seriously affected by water mismanagement, and that would be difficult to reach through a digital distribution strategy.

To connect with as many community members as possible, we worked with the Comisión  de Cuenca to leverage their extensive knowledge of the target communities as well as the Comisión ’s strong relationships with the various local authorities. By organizing screenings in key municipalities within the watershed basin that struggle with water quality and access, we were able to explain the problems and propose solutions directly to impacted communities and their local authorities.  

This strategy successfully reached audiences in the technical sense, but was also able to reach their hearts and minds in truly transformative ways. As a result, the screenings motivated farmers, citizens, and local governments to join the movement and be part of the solution. Most notably, at the Tlalmanalco screening the Municipal President felt so moved he met with the Comisión  de Cuenca on the spot; together, they came to an agreement about implementing a number of the Plan’s components. Approaching distribution in this way was a wonderful learning experience that showed us that, in some regions and for some projects, it’s important to go beyond a digital strategy and instead invest in community-driven, “hand-to-hand” efforts. 

Stay tuned for the next two launches in our series with the Comisión, Recovering Agricultural Areas Urban Environments, and The Benefits of Rainwater Retention.

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