Story of Hope: ACT Argentina Forum responds in ecumenical alliance to the water and sanitary emergency in the Chaco

The El Impenetrable area of ​​the Province of Chaco, Argentina, has suffered cycles of recurrent droughts and floods for the last 20 years. This year, the drought added to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic, and has made families of small farmers and indigenous communities in the area more vulnerable.

In a solidarity response to this situation, ACT Alliance Argentina Forum members and partners CREAS, SEDI, Hora de Obrar, and CWS joined to provide a rapid response fund to support to Junta Unida de Misiones (JUM) – an institution which has accompanied indigenous peoples in the area for more than 50 years, in an humanitarian project: “Access to water as a fundamental right for the full enjoyment of life.”

“Access to water is one of the most perverse forms of inequality and the consequence of a development model based on profit and lack of care for Creation. This joint initiative of the ACT Argentina Forum with the indigenous peoples in the Chaco is a concrete testimony of ecumenical diakonia in challenging times and a sign of hope,” emphasized Mara Luz Manzoni, Regional Director of CREAS.

“It seemed important to us to unite and accompany the JUM and the Chaco in the face of the seriousness of the situation of the drought and the fires. The best way was to create a rapid response fund to alleviate the situation. The sum of the contributions of each organization can have a concrete, rapid and accurate effect,” expressed Nicolás Rosenthal, executive director of the Hora de Obrar Foundation.

The project focuses on the construction and improvement of water infrastructures, both for human consumption and for agricultural and livestock use, as well as training in its construction and maintenance for rural community leaders in the municipalities of Castelli and Miraflores, Chaco. This initiative also seeks to reactivate the production of crops for families to both eat and sell. Both the drought and pandemic have impacted crop production, destabilizing food security for the population.

María del Pilar Cancelo, Executive Director of SEDI, an organisation invited to the ACT Argentina Forum, said, “The challenge of the Alliance is precisely the joint action of the churches, which makes it possible to join efforts and resources, to have greater impact, speed, and witness. This articulation between institutions is only a starting point, a challenge that we wish to sustain and enrich from this experience and the learning that arises”

For Martín Coria, CWS Regional Coordinator for Latin America and the Caribbean, “This collaboration can be replicated for the benefit of more faith-based organizations such as JUM that, throughout the region of the South American Gran Chaco, accompany the struggle of indigenous peoples for their land and for water, for their dignity and rights ”

(This post was published on Dec. 7, 2020)