The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Nell Greenberg,

Amazonian Tribes Launch Water Project Amidst Legal Battle

Innovative direct relief project to provide drinking water to thousands in Ecuador


After decades of health issues and legal battles, indigenous communities in the Ecuadorean Amazon have joined with humanitarian and environmental groups to launch ClearWater, a locally led effort to provide clean water to impacted communities.

Four Amazonian tribes, the Cofan, Siona, Secoya and Quichua, are coordinating the relief effort focusing on the provision of clean water to dozens of indigenous communities around Ecuador's Lago Agrio, a frontier oil town. The absence of readily available clean water has contributed to a health emergency in the Amazon. The contamination of water, the result of decades of oil pollution, has resulted in an epidemic of cancer, miscarriages, birth defects, and other ailments.

"ClearWater is about building immediate solutions to the environmental and public health crisis gripping the communities of the Ecuadorean Amazon," said Mitch Anderson, international Project Director for ClearWater. "We have a strong international team in place to support the communities of the Amazon in their fight for survival, in their fight for clean water."

Since October 2011, ClearWater has assembled a local team of community technicians and installed 70 rainwater-harvesting systemsin the Cofan and Secoya villages along the contaminated Agua Rico River. These systems are relatively easy to install in villages and rural town homes, and, if maintained properly, can last up to 50 years. In addition, specially designed filtered catchment units will enable families, health clinics and schools to have clean water. Every cent donated to ClearWater goes directly to the clean water project on the ground in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

The ClearWater project launches amidst a 19-year legal fight with Chevron, accused of widespread environmental contamination in the Amazon region. After 19 years of litigation there has been no change on the ground for the communities, which was a major impetus for the project.

"For decades, we have been fighting for justice. Our communities need clean water now in order to survive," said Emergildo Criollo, leader of the Cofan people and local Project Coordinator for ClearWater. "We are calling on international civil society to support us in our effort to build solutions to the water crisis in our forest."

Already ClearWater has received strong support from international groups, including the humanitarian group Groundwork Opportunities and Berlin-based child welfare charity Saving an Angel Foundation.

Rainforest Action Network (RAN) is headquartered in San Francisco, California with offices staff in Tokyo, Japan, and Edmonton, Canada, plus thousands of volunteer scientists, teachers, parents, students and other concerned citizens around the world. We believe that a sustainable world can be created in our lifetime and that aggressive action must be taken immediately to leave a safe and secure world for our children.