One of the first major Fairtrade projects that La Riojana undertook is arguably still the most important initiative we have been able to put in place for our growers and workers.
Back in 2008 the small, isolated village of Tilimuqui, only 10kms from the main La Riojana winery in Chilecito, was in desperate need of help.
The conditions for villagers were, at times, unbearable, often with no clean or running water, in temperatures, which at the height of the summer, could top 45°C.
Health and Hygiene problems
The lack of water meant there were serious health issues made worse by the poor hygiene and living conditions that the villagers were living in.
All of which had a knock-on effect on their ability to go to work, or, whether their children were able to go to the village primary school as it was often forced to close due to lack of water.
Before the water project was put in place 30% of the homes in Tilimuqui had no access to drinking water.
Joint project with The Co-operative
Fortunately La Riojana was able to step in with the support of UK retailer, The Co-operative, which has shown unstinting support not just to the Fairtrade movement but to the workers and families of La Riojana in particular.
Through the sales of The Co-operative’s Argentine Fairtrade wine range in the UK, backed by additional support from the generous retailer, we were able to raise enough money to:
- construct a 160m deep well in the village of Tilimuqui
- create a 150,000 litre reservoir
- set up a 10,000 litre water storage tank built 8m high to give the necessary water pressure to serve the entire community.
Impact of the water project
The Tilimuqui Water Project has transformed the quality of life for people in the village.
It not only has also attracted more people to come and set up home there, including some who had left due to the poor living conditions, it has enabled villagers to improve their own quality of life further by growing their own crops and flowers.
The project has meant that the primary school is now always open, and it has also enabled La Riojana and its commercial partners to go on and build a new secondary school in the village.
The Malligasta water project
The Tilimuqui project was not the first water initiative La Riojana has undertaken. We were able to use money from our first Fairtrade Premium to carry out repairs to the drinking water supply in the local village of Malligasta, where a number of our workers live, in what was our first official Fairtrade project.
“To have water every day is very important to my family and for the entire village. Before the water project we only had water every so often. The water supply used to cut out a lot and we would have to spend up to four days without water to drink, cook and wash with.
We now have a 500 litre water tank installed in our house giving us a reliable running water supply, greatly improving my family’s quality of life. Thanks to Fairtrade our community now has drinking water 24 hours a day, every day of the year.”
Rene Alejandro Garcia, La Riojana Co-operative vineyard worker and beneficiary of Tilimuqui Water Project – May 2015
(source: The Co-operative, Fairtrade Wine Report, December 2015)
“There are many forgotten people in many forgotten places in Argentina and South America. Tilimuqui is one such place. We have proved to ourselves that by doing something seemingly small we can make a huge impact and can really change people’s lives and the way they live. Our dream has finally started to become a reality and now we want to do much more. Fairtrade works!”
Walter Carol, export director for La Riojana, on the Fairtrade-funded drinking facility in Tilimuqui (April 2008)