Chiapas is a region with the largest and most diverse indigenous populations in Mexico.
There are over 959,000 native language speakers over the age of five. According to government statistics, Chiapas is the poorest state in Mexico, where the poverty rate is about 75% and approximately 47% live in extreme poverty. The poverty in Chiapas has its origins in what Pope Francis called the “systemic and organized” exclusion of the indigenous communities from Mexican society.
These high rates of poverty translate to low levels of access to basic resources such as adequate clean water and sanitation; approximately 25% of the population has neither.
Since 2009, WEFTA engineers have been working with rural communities in the southern state of Chiapas making upgrades and repairs to water systems, constructing new gravity-fed water systems which include spring catchment structures, water storage tanks along with all related distribution lines, and design and construction of residential latrines.
All our volunteers in Chiapas work closely with a local architect of Dutch descent, Kees Grootenboer, who time and again has shown a commitment to seeing through each project WEFTA has been involved in over the years.
Every time we send a crew on a trip to either help or assess a community, we ask our volunteers to write a trip report that details the trip through their eyes. These documents will give you both a look into what it is like being a volunteer and a first-hand perspective on our efforts to help communities.
Capital: Mexico City
Capital of Chiapas: Tuxtla Gutierrez
Area: 1,964,375 sq. km.
Area of Chiapas: 74,211 sq. km.
Population: 124,574,795 (July 2017)
Population of Chiapas: 5,228,711
Languages: Spanish, Tzeltal, Tzotzil, and other native languages
Regions: Pacific coast plains, Sierra Madre Mountains (northwest to the southeast), central highlands, Northern Mountains, Eastern Mountains, rainforest areas.
Water & Health
Since 2002, WEFTA has been connecting donors, engineers, and communities in Latin America, all with the common goal of ensuring access to clean drinking water for everyone.
Sanitation & Environment
WEFTA engineers help communities make sound decisions and facilitate the dialog leading to the development of solutions for inadequate sewage treatment, and its associated environmental impacts.
Development & Sustainability
WEFTA volunteers work with the communities we partner with to develop the local skills needed to maintain and manage the water and wastewater systems constructed.