Empowering for Community Health


The project focuses on improving community health in the eastern zone of Villa de Zaachila in four areas: food and nutritional security and sovereignty; water, hygiene and sanitation; sexual and reproductive health and rights; and violence prevention.

Place of implementation:

  • Eastern zone of the municipality of Villa de Zaachila, Oaxaca, Mexico.

Number of participants:

  • 316 elementary school girls and boys in grades one to four.
  • 89 young people.
  • 138 adults.

Partners and collaborators (operational):

  • Clínica Hospital del Pueblo “Anna Seethaler” A.C.
  • Red Internacional de Huertos Escolares

Main donors:

  • TASH Foundation.

General objective:

To improve the health and well-being of the people living in the eastern zone of Villa de Zaachila, Oaxaca, through a participatory and integral approach, focused on public and community health.

Full name of the project:

Empowering Community Health in Oaxaca: promoting sustainability and health in the surrounding areas of the largest garbage dump in the state of Oaxaca

Short description:

Between 2016-2019, SiKanda implemented the “Empowering for Nutrition” project in the eastern end of the municipality of Villa de Zaachila, around the largest garbage landfill in the state of Oaxaca. The project focused on promoting food security and sovereignty, specifically addressing food availability and access through school gardens, promoting nutrition education, advocacy for public policy, and fostering an active community on matters of nutrition.

SiKanda’s participatory approach led us, together with project participants, to a broader reflection on community health-disease processes. Likewise, the reality experienced by the people in this area of Zaachila constantly reminds us of the need to address common problems from a comprehensive and public health perspective, which can be strengthened through collaboration with other organizations and increase the project’s impact by promoting changes in different health-related aspects.

Therefore, SiKanda has adopted a broad perspective in this project that addresses 4 interrelated areas/problems affecting public and community health in the vicinity of the dump:
Food and nutrition security and sovereignty: SiKanda’s strategy to address availability and access problems, as well as nutrition problems, is to encourage local food production through school, family, and community gardens, and to promote nutrition education, skills, and infrastructure to access healthier food options.

Hygiene, Water and Sanitation (WASH): Linked to food utilization, the WASH assessment conducted by SiKanda in 2019 in 6 schools in the area, stressed that the main priority is to focus on clean water supply and storage, as schools have an ‘improved’ water source available (two schools have a well, four schools buy water through pipe services), but have little capacity to store it safely or ensure its availability for cleaning and cooking. The importance of hygiene and proper hand washing for disease prevention is also emphasized.

Investments are made in infrastructure such as tanks, rainwater collection systems, toilets, and septic tanks, among others.

Sexual and reproductive health and rights: SiKanda has documented how gender roles make accessing health services difficult, particularly those related to sexual and reproductive health. Violence in the area is also a factor related to a high incidence of teenage pregnancy. We promote a broad discussion on sexual and reproductive health and rights to favor access to services, awareness, and prevention of STIs, prevention of teenage pregnancy, gender equity, prevention of sexual violence, and access to contraceptives.

Violence prevention: A diagnosis of youth in the area, conducted by SiKanda in 2018, indicated the need to address violence prevention, one of the main concerns that adolescents and young people face within the community. SiKanda’s model is based on the ecological model that emphasizes the interaction between an individual and his or her environment for the prevention of violence. We understand violence as a public health problem that needs to be addressed by promoting a culture of peace and involving various actors, from authorities, other organizations, children, adolescents, youth, and adults.

Main activities:

  • Theoretical and practical workshops on healthy and conscious eating with children, young people, parents, and school kitchen committees.
  • Promotion, implementation, strengthening, and monitoring of agroecological gardens in primary schools. As well as training workshops in agroecology and worm farming.
  • Strengthening actions in school kitchens: hygienic food handling workshops, revision of menus provided in the cafeterias, nutrition workshops, provision of supplies to improve the physical conditions of the cafeterias, among others.
  • Linkage with networks and other organizations that seek to strengthen processes of conscious eating, food security, and food sovereignty.
  • Complementary actions for health care and disease prevention, water, sanitation, and hygiene.
  • Investment in water, sanitation, and hygiene infrastructure.
  • Training in sexual and reproductive health and rights.
  • Workshops and activities on violence prevention and the promotion of a culture of peace.
  • Liaison with institutions to identify and channel cases of violence, particularly those directed at children and adolescents.
  • Elaboration of a diagnosis of the nutritional status of 287 girls and boys from 3 public primary schools from the relational analysis of anthropometric samples, capillary blood and observation of clinical signs.
  • Participation of 528 people, including children, youth and adults to prepare, provide maintenance and care for school gardens located in 4 primary schools and 1 secondary school.
  • A diagnosis of the nutritional status of 287 boys and girls from three elementary schools in Zaachila Oriente was generated. With these results, the aim is to sensitize parents and people in the school communities to strengthen actions that improve the nutritional conditions of children. Recommendations will be made to decision-makers in public policies that can be guided to develop lines of action that contribute to improving the nutritional health of the population of children and youth in these contexts.
  • Investment in a rainwater harvesting system and construction of a cistern in a primary school for the benefit of 90 boys and girls.
  • Investment in improving the sanitary facilities of a primary school, including the construction of the septic tank, for the benefit of 85 boys and girls.
  • Referral of 4 cases of child protection to the relevant authorities.

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