Letters — 30 April 2014 — by Liyawada Cerro CBO

Editor Amandala,
Sir,

We are kindly writing to you to update your offices, readers and listeners about the struggle for clean drinking water in Cerro/Saint Vincent Block. We were very grateful for the publishing of our appeal for insight and assistance on our plight. We are also very grateful for the support we have gotten from neighbors, community members, and people from all over Belize who have heard our call for support.

We live on the 960-acre Garifuna communal land trust known as Saint Vincent Block/Cerro/Serru. As Mr. J C Arzu wrote recently, our ancestor Jose Maria Nunez, bought this land in 1889 and our ancestors were required to organize again to retain the property when he passed without an heir in 1923. These are beautiful, fertile and abundant lands. We love them and the people who call this place home.

We are working to get clean drinking water, a fundamental human right, to all of the residents who call St Vincent Block, Cerro, home. At this time we have had elected officials bring a 500- gallon Rotiplas with water, attempt to dig one well, install a communal metered pipe at a nearby lot and some promises for assistance with surveying so that we meet the regulations set by WASA to install the pipes.

Everyone in the community is coming together to share water, help extend the pipe, collect rain water and more. The efforts are great and meaningful and are a testament to the beautiful organizing that was necessary to purchase this land so long ago.

Even with all of these promises, we have been living here for many years and there is still not potable water in people’s homes, despite the fact that WASA for decades took water out of wells built on our land and in pipes running through the easement road that took 40 acres of this land without any form of compensation.

Despite all of this we are not complaining! We are working together to keep the eye on the prize and to ensure that everyone has access to water. One of the community members will volunteer their time and expertise to survey the residential area and community members will work diligently to clear the survey lines with file, machete and a communal pot of food. We understand that the main hurdle to getting water in our homes is the survey map that is required by the water company.

We are hopeful that this is true and are grateful to the community members for coming together to realize this human right (including one of the Millennium Development Goals). We need water to bathe and care for our bodies, cook culturally relevant and nutritious food, and to water our plants and crops. We believe that all people should have access to water at a price that is not prohibitive.

And we hope that we can continue this community work which has garnered support and respect.

Thank you, and we hope to keep you all informed. We need water!

Liyawada Cerro CBO

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