Recuperación de Ríos: Laboratories rurales para tratamientos alternativos de agua.

We bring education to community classrooms to reduce contamination, treat wastewater and purify drinking water using low cost designs.

Photo of Joshua Greene
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I confirm that I am fully aware of the eligibility criteria, and based on its description, I am eligible to apply to the CSV Prize 2017.

  • Yes, I'm eligible

Preferred language

  • English

Organization name

Recuperación de Ríos

Year founded


Initiative stage

  • Growth (the pilot has already launched and is starting to expand)

Annual budget in 2017 (USD)

  • $50k - $100k

Number of beneficiaries impacted so far

  • 1,000 - 5,000

Organization type

  • Social enterprise

Secondary Focus Area

  • Water
  • Rural development

Headquarters location: Country

  • Mexico

Headquarters location: City

Guadalajara, Mexico

Location(s) of impact

Casa Blanca, Poncitlan La Cañada , Ixtlahuacan Juanacatlán , Juanacatlán La Azucena, El Salto Tecualtitán, Zapotitan del Rey

Problem: What problem is this initiative trying to address?

The communities in this region suffer from the effects of extreme water contamination in the Santiago River basin. State and outside agencies continue to build treatment plants that do not work. This project puts the power of water management into the hands of the people who suffer the financial and health consequences from not having access to clean water and living near a contaminated water source. By involving more communities this projects seeks to promote low cost, low tech water treatment where it's needed most.

Solution Summary: What is the proposed solution? What do you see as its most promising aspects for creating shared value?

Each community that we are working with has begun to specialize in distinct facets of water treatment and contamination reduction. In one community the women are making biodegradable soaps, in another they are building greenhouses to reproduce the plants that communities can use to treat wastewater, in another they are building our first small water utility, selling high quality water to neighboring communities. Our approach is to teach community members everything there is to know about water and then to bring communities together to share ideas. We provide each community with limited resources to build simple drinking water filters and experimental wetland treatment facilities. We will expand our impact by continuously involving more participants and bringing funds and education so that communities can successfully manage their own water and begin to improve the water quality in this region. We are working with UNESCO-IHE and the University of Geneva to ensure this project's success.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Specify both the social and the environmental impact of your work

So far we have conducted 125 water education classes in marginalized communities. We, along with our participants have built 15 water filters that are dedicated to helping low income households access safe drinking water. In Casa Blanca our filter is used to provide safe drinking water for the community dining facility which provides meals for low income residents. Currently we are building safe drinking water filters in five schools and medical clinics to ensure that children and vulnerable populations have access to safe water. One of our first impacts has been to show the viability of working directly with the community members as we have shown that there is tremendous interest in improving access to safe water and improving the environmental conditions. We have also built a strong network between government, local universities and community members. Finally we are also working internationally with UNESCO-IHE and the University of Geneva so that this project can make a difference.

Financial sustainability plan: How is this initiative financially supported? How will you ensure its financial sustainability long-term?

Currently we are supported by generous financing from Fundacion Gonzalo Rio Arronte, which awarded the project $3 million pesos ($150,000USD) in 2017. Our leadership is completely unpaid and we thus count on an additional $50,000 USD in in-kind contributions. Transportation support, projectors and educational materials are provided by CIESAS-OCCIDENTE, for an estimated value of $15,000 per year. In the long term we are promoting the generation of economic activities that are specialized to the water related desires of each community. We see several routes for financial sustainability for the project, including the construction of our own for-profit water laboratory; the selling of low-cost aesthetically pleasing filters; and the eventual patenting of low cost water treatment technology.

Unique value proposition: What makes your initiative innovative? How does your project differ from other organizations working in the same field?

Instead of bringing solutions to the communities and hoping that they adopt them, we bring knowledge, access to experts, and financial resources so that communities can take ownership of their own solutions. We work directly with communities and try to rescue traditional, low cost water treatment techniques. Instead of seeking out community representatives, we believe in working with as many individuals and communities as possible to share knowledge and alliances and tackle problems together.

Founding story: Share a story about the "Aha!" moment that sparked the beginning of this initiative.

After spending 10 years working in this region investigating social and environmental conflicts a senior rural development researcher passed us an article about the development of the Danish wind mill industry. The model was based on citizen scientists, utilizing the advantage of having hundreds of "wind clubs" that were given knowledge and financial resources to both compete and collaborate to build new innovate motors and designs using concepts of "learning by doing" and field laboratories. Today Denmark leads the world in windmills. We saw this as a potential model to create a progress in water treatment for developing world contexts where high tech solutions are often too expensive and expert reliant. Our dream is to mobilize hundreds of communities with water education and to produce new low cost low tech water treatment designs that can restore our rivers.

Where did you hear about the Nestlé Creating Shared Value Prize?

  • Upon recommendation from others

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Mouhamadou Moustapha Seck

water is life and the fact that the population of this locality suffers from the contamination of water makes your work very feasible and promising. Good luck and go ahead.