The contingency generated by COVID-19 seriously affects the economy of people who cannot work from home, as their access to food. In Oaxaca, Mexico, the population living around landfills and those who work in waste management as informal recyclers, face particular risks.

Let’s transform this health emergency into a Solidarity Movement. We need your support so that the most vulnerable families can protect themselves in their homes without jeopardizing their access to food. 

We need to collect $67,600 mexican pesos to deliver the first set of food supplies for the 130 families. You may donate clicking here

Here we share more detailed information. 

1.- Who is Sikanda? 

Solidaridad Internacional Kanda (SiKanda) AC is an Oaxacan non-governmental, and non-profit organization. It was founded ten years ago with the mission of facilitating and leading participatory processes of harmonious and sustainable development to improve the quality of life of people in Oaxaca, Mexico. We are thirteen professionals, collaborating with other organizations and collectives in Oaxaca, sharing the firm conviction that through collaboration and solidarity between different sectors of society we can achieve a fair and equitable world. 

In 2009, SiKanda started working in the Zaachila Oriente area, located 40 minutes away from the city of Oaxaca, with the informal recyclers of the municipal landfill. The organization started with the aim of promoting the recognition of their labor rights and strengthening their capacities, and thus improving their living conditions. SiKanda is committed to a long-term partnerships with communities, working from mutual learning and with participatory methods. Over the years, by forming a relationship of trust with the participants, working from their visions and needs, SiKanda expanded its area of ​​work by focusing on other issues, such as gender inequality, malnutrition and violence. Today, we have 5 areas: Inclusive Recycling, Sustainable Habitat, Roads of Equity, Communities in Movement and Visible Youth, having a presence in Oaxaca (Central Valleys, the Mixteca and the Cuenca), Veracruz and Puebla.  In Zaachila Oriente, we work with four primary and two secondary schools (around 700 students and their families), in addition to promoting a team of youth leaders (around 40 adolescentes and their families) and a project of Women entrepreneurs (40 women and their families).

We will reach 130 families, who we have identified as having a vulnerable situation. For this, we will join forces with the Vicente Guerrero Community Center, who have 10 years of presence in the community.

2.- Context

In the East side of the municipality of Villa de Zaachila is located the largest landfill in the state of Oaxaca, which  receives almost 1,000 tons of garbage a day. Although the municipality has a population of 43,279 inhabitants, more than 15,000 people live in the area surrounding the landfill. In Villa de Zaachila, 76.1% of the population lives in poverty, out of which 25.7% live in extreme poverty and 20.7% of households have a moderate or severe degree of food insecurity (CONEVAL 2010). The neighborhoods that constitute what we call Zaachila Oriente have greater deficiencies compared to the rest of the municipality. Although the municipality’s marginalization index is medium (CONAPO 2015), Zaachila Oriente has colonies such as Vicente Guerrero and El Manantial that are considered areas of high marginalization. These deficiencies can be explained in part by the lack of basic services that the area presents since its developmen.

In 1980, the Villa de Zaachila garbage dump was opened by the Oaxaca de Juárez municipality, creating social problems that have a strong impact to this day. The garbage dump fostered the growth of Zaachila Oriente, receiving migrant families from all regions of Oaxaca, seeking to improve its economy by establishing themselves near the city. However, this demographic growth was not accompanied by an official recognition of the new colonies, nor by the creation of basic services. Although many of the settlements have been regularized today, 82% of the population live in homes without access to all basic services such as street paving, water or drainage. In 2010, the municipality had 3 medical units with only 19 people from the medical staff (CONEVAL 2010).

81.7% of the economically active population in the state of Oaxaca lives on informal employment. In other words, the majority of people in the state work without any type of social security. In Zaachila, 56.4% of women and 43.5% of men work in services; 27.9% and 16% in commerce; and 11.7% and 30.9% in the secondary sector (INEGI 2015). Although in the area or in nearby municipalities there is the possibility of finding non- or semi-specialized jobs, 28.7% of the population has one to two minimum wages as income (the minimum wage is 123.22 MXN pesos per day of work, which is 2,500 to 6,000 MXN pesos per month, or $100 to $243 dollars). Of the people working in the landfill, an estimated 60% are women. Of the total, 56% is their permanent job and 70% have precarious wages. 

b) Health, food and nutrition

The risks in terms of health for the families that live around the dump are very particular: Respiratory and diarrheal diseases, intestinal parasites, skin problems caused by contamination, among others. They are exposed to spaces that have the conditions for the proliferation of animals and insects, which can transmit diseases to people. The population does not have access to safe water and there are no basic sanitation systems, which increases vulnerability to these diseases.

There is high food insecurity, this means that there is a limited capacity, in economic terms, for families to obtain food that is healthy, safe and sufficient. On the other hand, there are few stores available that sell nutritious food.

The diet of most families is little varied. It is based on beans, rice, pasta soup, omelette, bread, coffee, lentils, among others, and very few fruits and vegetables are included. At the same time, there is an increased exposure to industrialized foods high in calories, sugars, trans fats, and preservatives; and that they are low in micronutrients (vitamins and minerals). Children especially are more exposed to the consumption of these foods. 

Many girls, boys and youts obtain their main and more nutritious food from school or community dinners, which normally operate in the area. During this health contingency, the dining rooms are closed. 

In this context, different problems associated with malnutrition are present. In collaboration with the Hospital Clínica del Pueblo, AC, we made a general nutritional status diagnosis in three primary schools in Zaachila Oriente. SiKanda took measurements of 297 girls and boys, between 6 and 12 years of age, such as weight and height, and used the indicator of BMI / age and Height / age. The growth curves of 5 to 19 years of the World Health Organization (WHO, 2007) were used as a reference.

Likewise in two primary schools, the hemoglobin value was evaluated to diagnose the presence of anemia in 183 boys and girls. On average, we  found 20 girls or boys per school with a malnutrition problem which requires urgent attention. There are 10 total number of cases with acute malnutrition; 28 with chronic malnutrition; 21 with risk of overweight; 7 with overweight; and 1 with obesity. 12 boys and girls were positive for anemia and 2 are at risk. 

Children, from their participation in the three schools, identify that the most frequent illnesses are: stomach, throat, flu, headaches and joint, knee, ankle or elbow pain. From clinical observation, many skin disorders were noted, especially in the children that go to the primary school closest to the dump, which may be signs of nutrient deficiency and / or related to contamination. This general assessment will help us determine who out of which these 297 children may be at a higher risk and thus his/her family will be part of the 130 families who will receive food supplies.

3.- Why 130 families? 

SiKanda works indirectly with more than 500 families, through collaborating with 6 schools and groups of adult women in Zaachila Oriente, groups of recyclers and recyclers in the municipalities of Huajuapan de León and San Lorenzo Cacaotepec. SiKanda staff were able to identify different characteristics to be able to identify the most vulnerable families in this period of health emergency.  

We will assist 130 families. They were prioritized because they have a higher risk of food insecurity: they do not have a fixed salary, their economic activities have been affected by the closure of schools, the head of the family are single mothers, they have no family income, they live off the sales of the day, they have health problems or malnutrition, among other characteristics. Additionally, they are at a higher risk of running out of enough food for their homes. 

Depending on the evolution and / or duration of the contingency by COVID-19, we may expand the number of families supported or the duration of the support.

4.- How long will food supply support last?

In the first stage of fundraising, we expect to raise enough to be able to support with 1 endowment of food (“pantry”) the consumption of a week for a family of 4 to 6 members. 

If the fundraising is successful, the support could be extended to two more weeks that could cover the most difficult weeks of the months of April and May 2020.

5.- What is the support from the nutrition and public health specialist?

A specialist in the area of ​​public health and nutrition collaborates at SiKanda. She has designed the content and quantity of the food pantry, according to the emergency conditions we are experiencing and the needs of families. 

The support consists of adapting and monitoring that the delivery process to the families is in accordance with the pertinent sanitary measures in the face of this sanitary contingency. A protocol was designed that includes safety and hygiene actions to avoid the greatest possible risk of contagion, both for the families and for the team that is carrying out the actions.

At the same time, families will be accompanied at a distance to inform with reliable data, through clear and precise materials, about the care actions that they have to carry out according to their reality, in times of COVID-19. In this sense, the specialist will also be advising on strategies to make the best possible use of the food to which they have access. Likewise, she will be answering questions related to COVID-19 and family nutrition. 

6.- What does the donation include?

In addition to food support, the donation covers the costs of packaging, storage, transportation and logistics for deliveries, monitoring of the specialist in public health and nutrition, communication with families and with the people they support.

7.- What are the groceries? 

The support consists of the delivery of basic food items: beans, lentils, rice, cooking oil, canned vegetables, sugar, salt, tuna, pasteurized milk in tetra pack, pasta soup, hand soap and toilet paper. 

8.- What will be the purchase process? 

The purchase process will be coordinated with companies of Oaxacan origin to support the local economy. The health specialist will coordinate this purchase directly with the suppliers. 

9.- What will be the delivery process?

Some families will be called at the Vicente Guerrero Agency Community Center in Zaachila Oriente, at certain times. A small number of people will be called for each time slot, so as not to cause large crowds per shift. The healthy distance measurements will be taken in which we will each be two meters away. The presence of only 1 member per family will be required. 

The people delivering the food supplies will wear personal protective equipment. Antibacterial disinfectant gel will be available for all people. We will ensure that the pantry bags are sprayed on the outside, with the recommended disinfectant solution to eliminate the COVID-19 virus, which is a solution of chlorinated water. 

For other families who are in more remote areas or that have difficulties to reach the Community Center, the food supply will be brought to their home. 

10.- If I have more questions, who can I contact?

María Rodríguez, Evaluation and Monitoring assistant

Whatsapp: 443 365 08 15