THP-Mexico Moves Closer to Self Sufficiency
Update to the Global Board
During this reporting period THP-Mexico completed 103 key program activities with 1,338 participants. Collaboration with other NGOs has resulted in increased opportunity for community partners and further national and international recognition of THP-Mexico's approach to grassroots development. During the last half of 2012, THP-Mexico worked with 21,380 grassroots partners across 22 communities of nine municipalities in three states: Oaxaca, Chiapas and Zacatecas. In 2013 THP-Mexico will be mobilizing a new cluster of communities in the state of San Luis Potosi with the support of a multi-year partnership with HSBC.
In Oaxaca, THP has established relationships with three NGO partners that will be responsible for the implementation of projects prioritized by the communities during the participatory rural assessments (PRAs): access to clean water throughout the year, improved housing and food sovereignty. Through determination and targeted advocacy efforts, partners from the community of Genova in Nuevo Progreso overcame local corruption and institutional obstacles that had delayed the installation of electricity in their community.
In Chiapas, community partners received training from the National Institute for Cooperatives Development and formalized a partnership with the Binational Net to begin to commercialize their products in New York. Two members of the cooperative came for the first time to Mexico City to promote their products in the annual fair of CEMEFI (the Mexican Center for Philanthropy).
In San Luis Potosí, the first meetings with strategic partners were held to expand programs in the region and introduce THP’s work and methodology.
In Zacatecas, partners from the poultry farm received consultant advice from an expert roundtable in Mexico City, where they explained obstacles they face as entrepreneurs. As a result of these consultations, the members of the poultry farm, along with a multidisciplinary team of volunteer experts, revised current plans for the farm, which include expanding and introducing a sustainable eco-farm with additional produce and animals.
During this period, THP-Mexico also joined several advocacy campaigns such as Contrapeso and the Alianza por la Salud Alimentaria (obesity and nutritional health campaigns) which aim to counter obesity and malnutrition with funds generated through increased taxes on soft drinks and junk food. THP-Mexico also participated in advocacy meetings with the President of the Food Self-Sufficiency Committee in the Senate Chamber. Increased advocacy efforts and participation in high-level campaigns this reporting period brings THP-Mexico closer to self-sufficiency, not just at the field level, but at an institutional level as well.
- First Inter-Regional Meeting 2012. THP-Mexico organized the first inter-community meeting, where our partners from Zacatecas, Oaxaca and Chiapas converged in one place to exchange experiences and knowledge. Six of our community partners from Zacatecas traveled to Mexico City, where they met with the national staff as well as Betsy Deisroth, VP of Advancement in New York, and Scanda Cepeda Scanda, President of THP-Mexico’s Local Board. The meeting included investors, board members, national and international staff and community partners from three different regions.
- Planning and Operation of the Community Mobilization Program. Partner communities in la Mazateca region worked closely with THP staff to implement strategies and planned projects for the second half of the year. Catalysts from different communities came together to share their experiences and discuss their role in the process of social transformation. As part of the catalyst training, participants learned new skills in research and program monitoring. A participatory baseline template was designed to help identify the number of families in each community as well as additional demographic information such as the number of people per household and their involvement with THP status (active partners, frequent associates, not partners).
- Education. As part of an alliance with three alumni from TEC de Monterrey (University of Systems and Technology of Monterrey), THP catalysts delivered school supplies for kids with the commitment to implement additional projects for schools in the region.
- Water. One of the priorities identified by the communities in the PRA conducted in 2011 was access to clean water throughout the year. In early 2012, the communities did participatory videos in order to speak out about their vision and invite different technical and financial partners to join the project. Rick MacKenney, director of Water for Humans, traveled to the communities to explore partnership possibilities in terms of sanitation and rain harvesting in the zone. Rick visited THP’s four partner communities, and community partners shared their visions about clean water, current habits and consumption practices as well as the challenges they face during dry seasons, often waiting two hours to access water. Water for Humans has developed a prototype for collecting rain water, an ecological stove and a dry latrine. The project pilot will begin in January of 2013, and THP expects to complete 84 integral water and sanitation systems in Oaxaca by the end of 2013.
- Housing. Another of the priorities identified by the communities was having decent homes enabling them to live safely and healthy. The organization Ayúdame que yo También Soy Mexicano visited San José Tenango to analyze work with community partners. Long distances and complex paths represent some of the challenges in terms of constructions and home improvement. A budget and project proposal has been completed and THP and ATM will collectively look for funding for this project in 2013.
- Food Sovereignty. During this reporting period THP celebrated the 1st Inter-Community Meeting on gender, nutrition and food sovereignty. The three-day workshop was facilitated by Raul Medina, a permaculture specialist from the organization Happy Soil. Partners discussed themes on the relationship between men and women as well as land and agricultural techniques appropriate for the area. Thanks to this training, our partners and associates have acquired more tools to improve their planting techniques and reflected on the fundamental role of women in agriculture and on the relationship between nutrition and food sovereignty as cornerstones of development and empowerment.
- Income-generating projects. Members of the poultry farm "Las Esperanzas," with the support of THP and a group of technical experts, collectively rethought its project to transform it from a poultry farm into an integrated farm in order to overcome obstacles presented by the poultry industry in recent years, such as avian flu and extreme drought in the region which had devastated their stock. In coordination with two veterinarians, a consultant and project designer, a project evaluator, and a member of CREA (an organization focused on low-income women entrepreneurs), the members generated an outline for a sustainable and profitable cycle of production: growing vegetables, using the grass to feed goats, and using the excrement as fertilizer for the soil to produce worms to feed the poultry again.
THP-Mexico is proud to announce that Zacatecas has achieved self-sufficient mobilization. Through the inter-regional meeting, catalysts from half of the Zacatecas partner villages were in attendance and demonstrated that THP’s model has been successful as they are empowered leaders who have achieved, along with their communities and authorities, several successful projects to overcome poverty.
- Income-generating projects. Partners from the Cooperative in Chiapas accomplished the project "Weaving Dreams, Creating Income" funded by FUNDEMEX with the primary goals of strengthening leadership and increasing incomes.
A summative evaluation was conducted in August where partners identified changes in their lives over the past six months. The results of the evaluation indicate progress on the way they perceive themselves and their future: increase in self-esteem at the personal level, abilities to achieve goals collectively and better relationships with their partners.
After doing the summative evaluation of the project, members of the cooperative participated in the Cooperative and Leadership Workshop taught by IMDECOOP (Mexican Institute of Cooperative Development), where they were able to observe the functioning of other cooperatives in Mexico and the world. They identified the need to capitalize their cooperative and generate an official document certifying their membership in the group. They also identified the possibilities of creating an alternative income project, such as a yarn store, where all members can buy material at better prices and reinvest earnings in cooperative projects as a social or educational funds or savings bank system.
As a final activity, our partners received the visit of the area of social responsibility from TOKS, a restaurant franchise that was contacted through FUNDEMEX. TOKS extended an invitation for working together, and asked our partners to design a proposal for participating in a competition to sell their products to TOKS.
San Luis Potosí:
- The First Meetings. An analysis of geo-spatial clusters was performed to select the municipalities’ expansion in San Luis Potosi. Using indicators such as the level of marginalization, poverty levels, percentage of population and indigenous language speakers, THP identified the municipality of Tampamolón Corona as the most suitable to begin our work in the area. The initial phases included the presentation of THP’s methodology to the municipal authorities and community representatives. In December, through community assemblies, an agreement to begin activities in 2013 was finalized.