Who are we?
We are a group of 15 Belgian scouts. Along with our staff of 4 and our 11 scouts we decided last October to organize our camp in Colombia. Unfortunately the country was an unauthorised destination for Belgian scouts mainly due to its violent history. However, Colombia is a fast changing country and is much more secure than before. Eventually we managed to obtain all necessary authorizations and insurance coverage in order to realize our project there! Our destination would be Mundo Nuevo, a farm hostel that aims for self-sustainability for food, water, economics and energy located at one hour of the Colombian coast.
Mundo Nuevo works to protect the unique territory Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta from further deforestation and to preserve - and where needed recuperate - its natural ecosystems.
All these projects need manpower to be realized. The farm-hostal employs locals but also an international cowd of "woofing" voluntaries (work in exchange for shelter and food). That's where we come in!
When we will arrive in July, Mundo Nuevo will start working on project "Manguera". Project Manguera
The Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta, a true natural treasure where lives a unique biodiversity, has always been the water reserve of the Santa Region. However, we observe that for the last decades, the level of its water sources have significantly decreased. Semi-intensive agricultural practices (eg. coffee) and poor upstream management have added to this, leading to significant overuse and waste, resulting in water shortages downstream.
Our focus, the case of Minca
Located close to the water sources in the Sierra Nevada, the town of Minca has seen its water supply progressively decrease, leading to first cases of shortages. The main causes are the poor management and inadequacy of the equipment used. There are losses due to the numerous leaks in the pipes connecting the water to the houses/farms. Another reason is the lack of water-related regulation and the absence of institutions capable of enforcing one.
The current installations consist of pipes connecting the source to neighboring farms or houses. There is no proper equipment to prevent the water from flowing when it is not needed. No tanks, floats, connections, taps. The result is that a significant part of the diverted water ends up wasted. While downstream farms and inhabitants suffer from water shortage.
Having an impact upstream will result in increasing the water quantity available downstream. Practically speaking, concrete water management actions will have direct positive impact in Minca and other towns situated downstream such as Tigrera, Rodadero and Santa Marta.
The goal of the project is to offer a local, cost-effective and sustainable solution to the problematic accessibilty and availability of water in Minca. It consist in the installation, on a volontary basis, of tanks equipped with floats, with the adapted connections and pipes in order to allow houses and farms of the region to manage their water use in a responsible way. This system reduces the quantitity of diverted water and has a direct effect on the quantity of water available downstream.
After having raised awareness around the problematic, the team of Mundo Nuevo will install a water management system in Finca La Candelaria and within the village of Montecristo, both located around Mundo Nuevo.
How will our trip look like?
Our trip starts the 29th of June when we leave Brussels for Colombia. From Bogota there we will fly to Santa-Marta, the capital of the Guajira department. We will then take a bus to Minca. On the 30th of June we'll arrive in Mundo Nuevo and get on with our project. On the 19th of July we will leave Bogota to return to Belgium.
01/07 -> 10/07: We will be working on project "Manguera". A canalization system with valves to be constructed in order to prevent water wastes by neighboring farms. This project came to life when Mundo Nuevo realized how much water was being diverted from the main stream by the farms and by observing the devastating impact it is having.
In the meanwhile we will be introduced to permaculture and the benefits of this local growing system.
The second dimension of this project is reforestation. The cattle industry and the coca-plantation have had disastrous effects on the environment throughout the last decades. Instead of dense forest there now are many open clearings contributing to the water issue and the biodiversity problem. With the help of the local community, youth associations, and it's engineers we will plant trees to recreate forests.
10/07 -> 15/07 A 5 day trekk in the Sierra Nevada to discover the region, local indigenous communities and the local flora and fauna.
15/07->19/07 we will visit Palomino and it's beautiful beaches. We will also visit Carthagena, a well preserved colonial port city located on the Colombian coast.
19/07 -> 20/07 we travel back to Belgium
To cut a long story short we will:
1) Bring our manpower to project Manguera
2) Plant trees to restore forests
3) Learn about the Colombian culture and history
4) Meet and share moments with the indigenous communities
5) Have a limited carbon-footprint by eating locally grown vegetarian food and by using eco-friendly shower and toilet facilities
6) Explore the region, it's nature and it's biodiverstiy
7) Get out of our comfort zone and experience a simpler way of life
8) Learn what it is to be a world citizen
9) Learn concrete solutions about how to tackle the 21st century's challenges