Water Security for Latin America & the Caribbean

Work to protect the human right to clean water and sanitation in Mexico, and across the region, is making strides through an alliance of environmental and human rights defenders — Agua, Nuestro Derecho (AND; Water, Our Right).

Last week, ELAW Attorney Alejandra Serrano Pavón and Scientist Dr. Melissa Garren traveled to Cancún to participate in AND’s first in-person meeting. They joined ELAW partners from Mexico, Honduras, Colombia, Nicaragua, and the Dominican Republic to share best practices for water quality monitoring and strategies for advancing the human right to water and sanitation.

“ELAW is now one of 25 organizations working together to protect waterways and drinking water supplies, with an ecosystem vision encompassing entire watersheds,” says Alejandra, who joined participants at Cenote Reg. 230 in downtown Cancún to take water samples and identify pollutants.

Participants at the Agua, Nuestro Derecho gathering (October 24-26, 2023) visit the Cenote Reg. 230 in downtown Cancún. They took water samples and identified pollutants.

The alliance was formed in 2019 by ELAW partners at El Centro Mexicano de Derecho Ambiental (CEMDA), Centinelas del Agua (Water Sentinels), and the Healthy Reefs Initiative. ELAW facilitated the collaboration, to connect local, regional, and international strategies to defend the human right to water and sanitation.

In Quintana Roo, Centinelas del Agua worked with authorities and communities to install biodigesters and build toilets, which will prevent thousands of liters of sewage from entering the aquifer each year.

“Centinelas is monitoring water quality in 200 locations,” says Alejandro López Tamayo, Executive Director of Centinelas del Agua. “There are some spots with high concentrations of nutrients and pollutants, such as the Yalahau Lagoon near Holbox, Nichupté Lagoon in Cancún, and Playa del Carmen, due to leakage in drainage systems. We will work to reinforce the regulations in these areas to improve water quality and conduct other activities to prevent pollution, including building 50 more toilets and wastewater treatment systems in three communities.”

Moving forward, ELAW will collaborate with the AND alliance to promote inclusive and effective water governance, and work with communities to monitor water quality.

We will keep you informed of our progress!

Lori Maddox
Associate Director
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide