“Without clean water, we cannot survive,” Emergildo Criollo told me recently.
You may have heard of Emergildo. An indigenous leader of the Cofan Nation in Ecuador’s northern Amazon, he has been a relentless advocate for his people, speaking out about oil giant Chevron’s toxic legacy in his territory. But today, even as he continues the fight to hold Chevron accountable, Emergildo isn’t waiting for a cleanup that seems always on the horizon.
Emergildo is taking matters into his own hands, helping to bring clean water to thousands of indigenous people who have suffered without for decades. And today, I want to ask you to support Emergildo, and the other indigenous leaders who are part of an effort that Amazon Watch is deeply proud to support:
It’s called The ClearWater Project.
Established in late 2011 by long-time Amazon Watch campaigner Mitch Anderson, ClearWater was a response to Emergildo’s clarion call for clean water, where access to this basic necessity can be a matter of life and death.
ClearWater began with a big goal: provide safe, sustainable access to clean water for every indigenous family in the region, whose ancestral waterways have been poisoned by oil production and ensuing industrialization.
In just two years, ClearWater has installed more than 500 family-sized rainwater harvesting and filtration systems that serve thousands of people in communities who have long suffered an epidemic of cancer, birth defects, and other illnesses that numerous health studies in the region blame on a lack of access to safe sources of water for drinking, bathing, and cooking.
And our efforts have been able to make this impact because from the beginning, ClearWater has been a collaborative partnership between the five indigenous nationalities here – the Cofan, Siona, Secoya, Kichwa, and Waorani – and international supporters, such as water engineers, humanitarians, activists, philanthropists, and people like you.
ClearWater believes in collaborative, integrative, community-led solutions, where someone like Emergildo is coordinating amongst the different indigenous nationalities to install new water systems, local youth are using GPS to map their biological and cultural resources, and frontline leaders are learning new media techniques to broadcast their concerns to the world.
Clean water, health, and dignity. From this foundation, Emergildo and the indigenous people of Ecuador’s northern Amazon, are building a movement for rainforest protection and cultural survival.
I’m proud that Amazon Watch is a founding partner in this project, and I hope you’ll join us too.
Amazon Watch Advisory Board Member
P.S. Explore ClearWater’s impact by navigating around this cutting-edge interactive map designed by another Amazon Watch family member, Gregor MacLennan, now Digital Democracy’s Program Director.