Water catchments in the region are highly fragile, many have been devastated by intensive mono-crop production, causing extended desertification and water contamination. Irrational precipitation regimes and over-exploitation of water resources by agro-industries have also accentuated water scarcity. Local people, particularly women and youth, confront food insecurity and illness due to the lack of access to water in satisfactory conditions.
Our work has led us to reflect on fundamental changes that are needed to resolve this water crisis. It has shown us the importance of developing solutions where local communities are the principal actors, through effective participation and water management schemes that embody co-operation, dialogue and civil society action.
We have been implementing a demonstrative pilot scheme with women peasant associations in Lebrija, based on key strategies: environmental education, rain-water harvesting, low-flow irrigation systems, family potable water and sanitation technologies, crop diversity and soil erosion prevention, catchment planning and reforestation, institutional lobbying and advocacy to ensure community water rights.