Earthquakes in Mexico: «The project could be achieved»

In September 2017, two earthquakes shook Mexico and affected several states, leaving nearly 400 people dead, in addition to serious damage to infrastructure. In the state of Oaxaca, where Entreculturas has been working for years, more than 63,000 homes and 800,000 people were affected in 74 communities. Government attention to the disaster in these communities was slow and insufficient: a significant number of families had been left without support.

Valentina Villalobos, one of the beneficiaries of the project, says: «I feel very grateful and happy to have received this support here in my community».

For this reason, the Loyola Foundation (one of the partner organizations of Entreculturas in Mexico), conducted a survey among the affected communities and decided to prioritize its intervention in San Mateo del Mar Oaxaca, on the southern coast of the state. Based on the criteria of greater need, greater abandonment and local organizational follow-up capacities, 100 families that had not received support from the government or other institutions were chosen. With Entreculturas and INDITEX support a housing reconstruction programme was implemented and it has been completed recently.

«I am satisfied with the collaboration that can be done with the families,» explains Laura Fiallo, leader of the Ikoot Community

Families such as Valentina’s were involved in the diagnosis and design of their home as well as in the construction process (especially with people from the region dedicated to construction: construction masters, bricklayers…). Their involvement allowed them to being trained in anti-seismic construction techniques and soil diagnosis, what means an opportunity for the community to work and increase family income, and to improve the region’s response to possible future earthquakes. «I am satisfied with the collaboration that can be done with the families,» explains Laura Fiallo, leader of the ikoot community, «and see that there are many people who can help”.

To carry out such a complex reconstruction programme, the Loyola Foundation has coordinated the work of the local community with different entities and organizations that have made key contributions, such as the engineers and architects of the Ibero CDMX and ITESO Universities in Guadalajara. One of them is Carlos Estrada (ITESO’s architect), who explains that, although the challenge of reconstruction in Mexico is extensive and there is still a lot of work to be done, «it gives satisfaction to know that the project, the objective we had set ourselves could be achieved». «I think it’s necessary for those of us who have had access to education to give back a little to the others,» he adds. «It’s the way the whole country can improve, helping each other. The way to get ahead is to work together”.

To this housing reconstruction project we add a second intervention of Entreculturas and INDITEX together with the Jesuit Migrant Service-Mexico (SJM-Mexico). The purpose of this intervention was to rebuild transit migrants shelters who were affected by the earthquakes.

Results obtained by the programme:

More than 70 houses have been built or rebuilt.
77% of the funds have been used for housing construction (the rest of the funds were spent on rebuilding the social fabric, coordination and administrative costs).
249 people were involved in the «Strong Families» process (reconstruction of the social fabric and organizational enhancement with the affected people).
63 local people who were involved in the construction, have been trained in anti-seismic construction techniques.
37 families have been trained in construction processes.
– A model of rainwater collection system and water filter has been installed in 11 houses.
– In addition to the social production of housing, efforts have been made to build or rebuild public spaces equipment: the market, chapel and a community center.
6 migrant shelters were reconstructed.

I think it’s necessary for those of us who have had access to education to give back a little to the others, explains Carlos Estrada (ITESO’s architect)»