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Harvesting Mexico’s rain

Eusebia lives in the Ajusco community on the southern outskirts of Mexico City. She sells oranges for a living and used to spend nearly half of her USD180 monthly income on water.

Today, thanks to the support of the HSBC Water Programme and Isla Urbana, a local non-profit organisation, she saves nearly all of that money.

HSBC is working with Isla Urbana to provide a sustainable source of water to families in Mexico that suffer from chronic shortages.

The investment in the project is part of HSBC’s USD100m Water Programme which aims to provide hundreds of thousands of people with access to safe water and sanitation and to protect the biodiversity of important river systems.

Over the course of the project, 641 rainwater harvesting systems will be installed in low-income communities in the Huichol mountains in Jalisco and on the southern edge of Mexico City, where many houses are not connected to the water system.

The scheme will help about 4,500 people by installing water tanks on roofs. This will reduce the time, effort and money they previously invested to get their water. The tanks are expected to collect 30 million litres a year, saving an estimated 12,000 hours spent carrying water.

The rainwater harvesting systems will also save energy. In Mexico City, which is surrounded by tall mountains, more than one fifth of the water supply has to be pumped to a height of 1,200m and from 127km away.

David Vargas, head of operations for International Renewable Resources Institute, one of two non-governmental organisations behind Isla Urbana, said: “The rainwater harvesting system works with the city’s natural processes to provide a clean water supply to everyone living here.”

Isla Urbana uses materials from local stores and trains people from the area to build and install the rainwater harvesting systems.

HSBC is supporting the Isla Urbana project to finance environmental education programmes to encourage local people to get involved in the sustainable development of their communities.

As part of the five-year HSBC Water Programme, USD35 million will be divided between a variety of local water projects around the world. So far, USD15.5 million has been earmarked for use across 33 projects in 19 countries.

To find out more about the HSBC Water Programme, the work it is doing with WaterAid and other partners WWF and Earthwatch, visit www.thewaterhub.org.