Comprehensive and Social Reconstruction of the Habitat in theMountain of Guerrero
Mountain of Guerrero
In 2013 we began the Comprehensive Social Reconstruction of the Habitat project, in order to reduce the vulnerability of the communities affected by Hurricanes Ingrid and Manuel in the high mountains of Guerrero.
Those hurricanes were devastating for the populations of the mountain region, which is why the poet Hubert Matiùwáa requested support from CC (Cooperación Comunitaria) to accompany the Me’phaa communities in a reconstruction process. During this process, the work has been centered on the restoration of damaged houses or structures, the recovery of cornfields, and environmental restoration to prevent landslides. This was achieved through the recuperation of traditional adobe houses, the identification and mitigation of risks such as landslides, earthquakes and strong winds in the region.
The reconstruction process involves the communities, contributing to the strengthening of community ties, as well as to the reactivation of the region’s organization and productive activities. This is a process that has continued until now and has yielded the self-management of diverse communities that self-build community training spaces, along with productive, educational, and housing spaces through traditional building systems made with local materials.
The comprehensive process of social reconstruction of the habitat has gained recognition for the work done by CC in the region and thus, confidence in adobe as a construction system resistant to earthquakes and strong winds in the region has returned. Adobe construction systems made with local materials make building affordable, adapt to the culture of the place, provide a better quality of life and have greater economic and environmental benefits.
During the process, we have connected with diverse organized groups that strive to improve the habitat of their communities, which has generated the self-production and self-construction of 68 reinforced adobe houses, three community centers, two supervision centers for indigenous preschool education, one environmental classroom at the Intercultural University of the State of Guerrero, one warehouse for the Mexcaltepec Community Center in the municipality of Acatepec with Enlace AC, one dining room/kitchen at the Xochistlahuaca Intercultural Primary School, 137 wood-saving stoves self-produced by women, and 29 bathrooms which convert organic waste.
We established a covenant with the Intercultural University of the State of Guerrero, where we shared our learning about the recuperation of traditional building knowledge and biotechnologies with local materials that reduce these communities’ vulnerability. We have given eco-technical courses to 700 students.
The exchange of knowledge is part of the social reconstruction process, which is why we have worked on integral risk management sessions to reduce the population’s vulnerability to landslides. We do this through techniques for environmental restoration with timber resources of reinforced construction, and the use of eco-technologies such as dry toilets, rainwater harvesting, and kitchens with firewood-saving stoves; in addition to the recovery of the organic cornfield, which contributes to avoiding the deep erosion of the soil that we identified in the territory. At the same time, we have carried out participatory cartography with six communities in order to identify the risk of landslides, and we have produced 11 radio capsules in Spanish and in Mé’Phàà to raise awareness among the population about these issues, related to the social production of the habitat.
During these past eight years, the participatory work we have done has provided the possibility to learn and delve into the knowledge of diverse contexts. Through knowledge exchanges, we have acquired several comparative elements between different regions and ethnolinguistic groups (Mè’Phàà y Ñomndaa).
All the knowledge generated during the process, beyond what has been constructed, has instilled skills to build more safely and with better quality. The processes of participatory design, planning, and organization have made it possible to generate housing and stoves adapted to the participant’s needs. Thus, their use and maintenance are closer to the people’s cultural reality. Needless to say, this contributes to the reduction of their vulnerabilities.