Water of the Sierra Madre

On the edge of the Pacific, the western Sierra Madre is a range of very dry mountains, where water is extremely rare during the winter and spring months. Thanks to a very simple storm water recovery system, Odapi helps the Huichole Indians to make up for this chronic deficiency.

Humanitarian and Development

San Andres zone, in the Sierra Madre, Mexico

Rémi Usquin

5600 € to the Selection Committee at 2006/05/23

Project leader


«This small-scale, well thought out project, is particularly solid because the maintenance of the water recovery system can be handled by the local population. The construction techniques are those which the Huichole Indians use for their usual structures.»

Rémi Usquin

In the Sierra Madre range, in the west of Mexico, water supply is critical during the dry season, from November to June. During these long months, water points run dry, forcing the population to use this precious resource parsimoniously for their immediate food needs (drinking and cooking). Hence there is no question of crop irrigation or even daily ablutions. In this region, the indigenous Huichole tribe (nearly 45 000 persons) therefore suffers from food deficiencies and diseases related to the lack of hygiene.

A system easy to maintain

The NGO Odapi, created several years ago by a pair of French hydraulic engineers residing in Mexico, and approved by the Mexican government, has the general objective of designing drinking water systems for isolated populations. In the western Sierra Madre, specifically in the San Andres area, where a community of 350 Huichole Indians live, it has conducted a local study to identify a solution to overcome this annual water shortage. By installing a storm water recovery network, between July and October, the community could have enough water for the rest of the year to guarantee better health for its members and diversify its crops.
For the population to maintain this future system by itself and durably benefit from proper water supply, the system designed by Odapi is based on very simple techniques borrowed from local construction methods: the roofs of the houses of the community will be equipped with gutters, connected by PVC pipes to a half-buried cistern, duly waterproofed. These cisterns will be roofed to prevent the water from being soiled by miscellaneous deposits. And finally, the inhabitants will be able to draw the water by a system of pulleys and buckets.
An additional guarantee of the permanence of this project: the population will participate in the construction work, the best way to enable it to understand its subsequent operation.
To help these villagers finally enjoy permanent access to water, Fondation Veolia Environnement has given Odapi a grant of 5600 euros.


Other project supported

Odapi (Organizacion de Desarrollo y de Ayuda a los Pueblos Indigenas AC)
Domain : Humanitaire et Développement
Country : Mexique
Endowment : 20/10/2011

Construction of a permanent drinking water supply in the Western Sierra Madre for the Huichol Amerindians of San Miguel Huastita.