The Franciscan missionaries of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin province requested a financial grant in early 2021. The grant request outlined a significant project to supply safe drinking water to schools and community centers of indigenous populations, in the Chaco Salteño region, in northern Argentina.

The Wichi, one of two main groups in the area, are made up of a variety of ethnic populations living in Argentina and Bolivia on the Upper Bermejo and Pilcomayo rivers. They live in widely dispersed settlements in very poor living conditions. These communities lack the access to safe drinking water.

This region of Argentina is susceptible to droughts and poor quality ground water. Local wells are contaminated with high levels of salinity and arsenic. The drilling of new wells are very expensive due to the extreme depths that must be attained to discover useable fresh water. In 90-percent of the communities, water contamination causes diseases characterized by parasitic infestation and malnutrition. 

The project constructed a series of rainwater collection cistern systems among 12 communities. With rainfall of only four months (November to March) during the year, these cisterns are capable of holding up to 16 thousand liters of water each. At the end of the construction stage, the communities are educated in the conservation and sustainability of this valuable water resource in their daily lives. They are also trained in the sanitation and hygiene maintenance of the system.

With our donors support, Franciscan Missions along with other NGO’s and Argentina’s government have made this project a key element for future programs for indigenous communities to seek a better quality of life for their communities. Together, we deliver hope.