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Isla Urbana

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Rainwater harvesting system installed in Mexico City in colonia Cultura Maya
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Children writing about nature, rain, and resources
One rainwater catchment installation in Mexico City



Intro[edit]

Isla Urbana is a nonprofit working in Mexico City as well as in other areas of Mexico to improve water quality and water accessibility to people who have no access to clean water. They coordinate efforts with different communities to build local capacity and local jobs for designing and building rainwater catchment systems around Mexico. They provide design assistance, training to plumbers, and provide parts for the rainwater harvesting systems. They've installed about a 100 systems so far and they are receiving funding for 1,000 more systems in Mexico. They work as a part of the International Renewable Resources Institute , who helps offer support for different projects for water, biogas, and solar energy around Mexico. Isla Urbana founders have also created a non profit called Solucion Pluvial, for every installation with Solucion Pluvial they install one system for Isla Urbana.

Background[edit]

Isla Urbana is dedicated to offering low cost rainwater harvesting systems that can easily fit into the domestic piping and tank system already existing in most homes. This project's headquarters is located in Mexico City in the Colonia de Cultura Maya, an area that was once shanty towns on the outskirts of the city and had been burned down twice in the 80's by the police who were trying to prevent further growth in the city. Now a network of schools and cement and brick houses forms the colonia, however they are still some of the last people to receive water from the municipal water supply when the supply is scarce. People here sometimes go 2 to 3 months without access to water every year and many people here do not even have a connection to the city's water system. The water quality also changes from house to house as piping differences may cause grey water or waste water to enter piping for clean water from the municipal supply. Additionally Isla Urbana spearheads a series of demonstration and outreach programs including communitycompost, living roofs, community gardening, as well as community space and park clean up and beautification.

Approach[edit]

  • Teaches and Trains through private courses that are open to the public as well as training local plumbers in rain catchment installation in order to build local capacity and local job opportunities.
  • Supervises installations constructed by trained local community members
  • Actively installs with resources from grants and government funds and time dedicated from Isla Urbana
  • Buys all materials locally and makes relationships with local tool supply stores to insure client access to needed materials for maintenance.

Committees, formed by the local communities, handle the money from urban municipalities and hire Isla Urbana to train plumbers and supervise. Then the committee buys components from [www.solucionpluvial.com Solucion Pluvial], the for profit sister organization, and pays the plumbers for system installation. Isla Urbana requests that the family is present on the day of installation so that they are shown how the RWH system is constructed. IU also works closely with the families to ensure that they know how to maintain the system. The IU team lives in the community in which they are working so as they live through the same water scarcity problems and are readily available to answer any questions and help resolve any problems rapidly. Maintenance and aftercare are done by community members.


Projects[edit]

Rainwater catchment at Isla Urbana[edit]

Huichol Rainwater Catchment System :[edit]
Decorated cistern for Huichol's rainwater catchment
Colonia Cultura Maya Rain Catchment Systems[edit]
System with first flush on left and filters on right

Rainwater quality testing with Isla Urbana[edit]

Community Garden[edit]

Greening public spaces with a community garden


Rooftop Garden[edit]

Rooftop garden at Isla Urbana

Community compost[edit]

Community compost for making soil for rooftop garden

Current Opportunities[edit]

Isla Urbana made it to the top twelve in the BBC's World Challenge[edit]

The challenge rewards projects showing enterprise and innovation at a grass roots level to help make a difference and better the world.
Vote for the winners from September 27th - Nov 12th
Winners get US $20,000, while two runners up will each receive US$10,000 for future projects and Isla Urbana plans to use this money for improving and greening community spaces on the out skirts of Mexico City, in areas that were previously shanty towns. They are also planning to use the funds to buy cisterns for those people that can not afford it in the community.



Internship[edit]

An Internship Program with Isla Urbana is also currently being developed that might include urban gardening and community outreach and green space creation. For more info contact Isla Urbana.