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Waterock L3C – bringing back indigenous water harvesting techniques

Laurence de Bure, a French born immigrant, brought an agricultural background from farm life in the Pyrenees Mountains in southern France to Tucson Arizona. Her appetite to learn of the tribal life near her new surroundings led her to discover traditional indigenous water harvesting techniques. This in turn led to her current mission; encouraging its reintroduction to the Hopi and Navajo tribes, especially promoting youth empowerment and traditional knowledge building.

Conceptualized in 2013, Waterock L3C is an investor owned, limited dividend, for-profit company. It is providing economic opportunities to disadvantaged individuals and communities through a business-like approach. During the past three years, the company has organized 15 training workshops focused on land and water restoration techniques, which have involved over 150 Hopi and Navajo youth. These workshops have been introducing indigenous techniques focused on the construction of rock based Trincheras, Gabions, and water catchment basins to slow the flow of rainwater runoff in the watersheds of their reservations. These are not voluntary activities but “on-the-job” trainings in which participants receive a cash stipend well above the minimum wage in the United States for their work.

The success of this initiative led to international recognition through awards received from the Swiss based “Good Festival” symposium in 2016, and by the French Government in its worldwide competition, “100 Projects to Combat the Effects of Climate Change”. Furthermore, it has also led to requests for similar rainwater harvesting workshops and collaborations. One of which foresees the collaboration with the Embassy of the Earth Foundation, the Netherlands Center for Indigenous people, and the DHAN Foundation in Tamil Nadu, India, whereby the organization of a series of workshops to be conducted in the Fall of 2017 in Tamil Nadu State was agreed upon.

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