Amazonian Tribes Launch Water Project Amidst Legal Battle

Primary tabs

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Innovative direct relief project to provide drinking water to thousands in Ecuador

Actor Campbell Scott endorses water project, narrates ClearWater video

SAN FRANCISCO— After decades of health issues and legal battles, indigenous communities in the Ecuadorean Amazon have joined with humanitarian and environmental groups to launch ClearWater, a locally led effort to provide clean water to impacted communities. 

Four Amazonian tribes, the Cofan, Siona, Secoya and Quichua, are coordinating the relief effort focusing on the provision of clean water to dozens of indigenous communities around Ecuador’s Lago Agrio, a frontier oil town. The absence of readily available clean water has contributed to a health emergency in the Amazon. The contamination of water, the result of decades of oil pollution, has resulted in an epidemic of cancer, miscarriages, birth defects, and other ailments.

“ClearWater is about building immediate solutions to the environmental and public health crisis gripping the communities of the Ecuadorean Amazon,” said Mitch Anderson, international Project Director for ClearWater. “We have a strong international team in place to support the communities of the Amazon in their fight for survival, in their fight for clean water.”

Since October 2011, ClearWater has assembled a local team of community technicians and installed 70 rainwater-harvesting systems in the Cofan and Secoya villages along the contaminated Agua Rico River. These systems are relatively easy to install in villages and rural town homes, and, if maintained properly, can last up to 50 years. In addition, specially designed filtered catchment units will enable families, health clinics and schools to have clean water. Every cent donated to ClearWater goes directly to the clean water project on the ground in the Ecuadorian Amazon.

The ClearWater project launches amidst a 19-year legal fight with Chevron, accused of widespread environmental contamination in the Amazon region. After 19 years of litigation there has been no change on the ground for the communities, which was a major impetus for the project. 

“For decades, we have been fighting for justice. Our communities need clean water now in order to survive,” said Emergildo Criollo, leader of the Cofan people and local Project Coordinator for ClearWater. “We are calling on international civil society to support us in our effort to build solutions to the water crisis in our forest.” 

Already ClearWater has received strong support from international groups, including the humanitarian group Groundwork Opportunities and Berlin-based child welfare charity Saving an Angel Foundation. 


For more information on the ClearWater project and to view the campaign video, please visit:






Rainforest Action Network runs hard-hitting campaigns to break North America’s fossil fuels addiction, protect endangered forests and Indigenous rights, and stop destructive investments around the world through education, grassroots organizing, and non-violent direct action. For more information, please visit: