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£1,008raised of £10,000 target by 17 supporters

Weʼre raising £10,000 to support Patricio in his work bringing water security to the high Andes of Ecuador

Riobamba, Ecuador

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The Challenge

Help me support Patricio to pursue his mission to bring water security, and ecological and social regeneration to his ancestral lands in the high Andes of Ecuador.

He is currently director of the local water and irrigation board, a post that gives him a great opportunity to influence and educate local communities and leaders about agro-ecological solutions to water scarcity and erosion prevention.

He has just six months left of his two-year post, and wishes to make use of this window of opportunity to dedicate himself to this work and push his message further. He has the chance to make a lasting impact on local policy, by promoting a balanced and localised approach to water in the region, as well as create an increase in tree cover, biodiversity, health of the ecosystem and the people.

However this is a voluntary post, and Patricio needs our help to fund his work.

The Context

Riobamba is situated in Chimborazo province in the Central Highlands of Ecuador.

The lands of this region were once terraced mountainsides with productive agriculture and rich mixed forests, springs and streams flowed, and people lived in harmony with Pachamama (mother nature).

The Spanish colonisation program of the 19th-20th centuries turned these lands over to large haciendas run by land barons. The local people fled deeper into the mountains or had to become virtual slaves to the colonisers to feed themselves and their families. Years of intensive farming and grazing of non-Andean animals such as cattle left the land barren, denuded of trees, eroded and desertified, and hardly able to sustain life. The indigenous people were then able to ‘buy back’ parcels of their ancestral lands.

There is very little rainfall in this area, and when it does rain the sandy soils are subject to severe erosion.

Patricio's village receives water from 40kms away via a tube. This provides water for basic needs, but not enough to irrigate the lands. If they can afford it some farmers buy water from a truck to fill their tanks to water plants.

Relying on water from great distance is not secure and sustainable. It has been proven that reforestation of steep slopes and watersheds, combined with agro-ecological farming methods such as inoculation with mycorrhizal fungi, prevent water run-off and allow more water to be held in the soil. These methods have been shown to offer long-term improvements to the ecology and hydrology of a region.

It is these approaches that Patricio has been implementing with his project "Dressing the Mountains in Green". Already the reforestation of gullies has caused springs to re-emerge further down the valley, to the benefit of neighbouring communities.

About Patricio

Juan Patricio Pilco Hipo is the founder and director of the project "Dressing the Mountains in Green " which he started in 2003 as a vehicle for realising his vision for the ecological and social regeneration of his ancestral homelands.

Since then 120,000 trees have been planted in these barren and arid mountains. Patricio has organised countless 'mingas' - community work days - where people from all parts of society (indigenous farmers, schools, students, army, church, local government) come together to plant trees.

Over the years his role has also developed as community leader and educator - offering workshops to other local communities on indigenous agro-ecology, and about the benefits of planting trees.

In 2016 he completed his technical diploma in Andean Agronomy and Livestock. His thesis was on the topic of capturing and propagating beneficial micro-organisms for soil remediation and improved water-retention.

In 2017 he was elected as head of the local water board, a two year voluntary post, which is focused on managing water use and waste water for the whole watershed area. His role as community leader continues to expand with this appointment. He has been teaching the communities within the watershed about good practice in conserving water, and about agroforestry as a long-term solution to the problems of water scarcity and erosion.

He has also participated in meetings with church leaders, local and regional government, NGO's etc, and has been using his role to influence water policy, to the extent that he was requested to offer a course in agroforestry to water board directors.

Recent news from Patricio:

as a director of the Irrigation Boards over the past 18 months I have brought together many stakeholders in the region in meetings of assemblies on the theme of water for the common good, and we have undertaken works on the irrigation channels.

In particular, I am promoting ancestral alternative agriculture with a focus on conservation and regeneration of biodiversity for an integral equilibrium. I am conducting a course on agroforestry systems to the directors of irrigation boards.

And a message from Patricio from my visit in 2016

What will the money be used for?

1. Funds for Patricio to run his courses, travel, and do his work.

2. Patricio is already 18 months into his voluntary post as director of the water board. This work has mean that he has not been able to dedicate as much time as he would like to the family ecological smallholding, which is the source of the family income. (Read more about the farm here: Pura Vida )

The family has to pay the monthly interest on their bank loan, or the bank will repossess their 1 hectare of land.

This is a harsh reality for small farmers around the world. Banks offer loans with high interest rates attached, keeping families in a permanent state of poverty.

Part of the money raised will go to paying off debt and interest repayments.

3. A new computer for Patricio, so he can efficiently create presentations, create an archive of his work, and keep in touch with allies in the regenerative movement around the world.

4. If there is any extra raised it will go towards planting trees.

On behalf of Patricio and his family, I heartfully thank you for reading, and for anything you can contribute.


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  • Clare Finlator17 days ago
    Clare Finlator

    Clare Finlator

    17 days ago

    Thank you to all who have supported the campaign so far, and helped me raise more than £500. Over the next weeks I wish to reach at least 1000! I recently heard from Patricio who had just participated in a Latin American Agroecology Conference where he spoke about his experience of reforestation and agroecology in the Andes. He is happy his work is now reaching a wider audience, and it gives him hope for the future of his community and for the region.

    Share this update to help us raise more

2 months ago

Clare Finlator started crowdfunding

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Page last updated on: 11/9/2018 7:02 PM



  • Anonymous


    Nov 9, 2018


  • Jay Newmark

    Jay Newmark

    Nov 9, 2018


  • P Beaton

    P Beaton

    Oct 30, 2018


  • Peter Yeo

    Peter Yeo

    Oct 29, 2018

  • Michaela Clarke

    Michaela Clarke

    Oct 10, 2018

    Thanks for the great work Clare. Beautiful on the inside and the outside x


  • Peter Yeo

    Peter Yeo

    Oct 6, 2018

    Wishing you and Patricio good flow Clare, will also spread the word. x


  • Anonymous


    Oct 5, 2018

    May water and money flow,with heartfelt encouragements,Sandira


Clare Finlator

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About the fundraiser
Clare Finlator

Clare Finlator

Riobamba, Ecuador

I have been supporting Patricio, and his project Dressing the Mountains in Green since 2008. In 2016 I visited Ecuador, and was deeply moved by the immense work that has been achieved by Patricio and his family, in spite of great challenges and personal tragedies.

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