Women for Conservation

Flash Flood Relief: Help Us Support the People of Puerto Pinzón

Boyacá, Colombia

June 8th

 

Devastating floods forced the community of Puerto Pinzón to evacuate their homes as the Ermitaño River flooded their town last week. National media reports that 700 families in Puerto Pinzón have been affected, and many inhabitants have lost their homes, livestock, and crops.

 

Puerto Pinzon is home to the ProAves El Paujil Nature Reserve, where Women for Conservation established a women’s community group to train female environmental leaders.

 

Ciria Torres, our local Women for Conservation leader, described how the flash flood swept through the village in the middle of the night, and how the forest stopped the water from washing away the entire village.

“Alarms began at 3am, and we immediately evacuated the elderly to make sure they got out alive, because that’s all we had time to do. The forest guards had to escape by swimming, because when they awoke the water was already flooding the bedrooms.  What happened here is terrible – Puerto Pinzon only survived thanks to the trees. After evacuating to higher ground, we were watching the river rise, and the biggest trees were able to stop everything from being swept away.  Thank God for the nearby nature reserves, because if it weren’t for those trees holding everything in place, our city would have been completely washed away.”

Women for Conservation’s Puerto Pinzón Chapter

Women for Conservation has been working with women in this community for over a decade, helping them establish eco-friendly micro-businesses and lead tree planting campaigns.  Many of these women lost their homes and all their belongings.

 

Women for Conservation’s Puerto Pinzón project empowers women to become involved in biodiversity protection around the ProAves El Paujil Reserve. ProAves partners with us to support gender equality in conservation, and recently invited local women to begin forest guard training.  Key species protected by this reserve include the Blue-billed curassow (Critically Endangered) , the Brown Spider Monkey (Critically Endangered), and Spectacled Bear (Vulnerable). Unfortunately, the river flooded about 80% of the infrastructure in the ProAves El Paujil Reserve, necessitating the relocation of 100% of the park infrastructure to higher ground in order to avoid future damage.

 

Ciria Torres described to us the devastation that the women’s group found after the waters receded and they went to see what was left of the reserve.

 

“The water was like an avalanche overflowing with logs and mud – it was devastating. We came today to clean up the reserve, only to find the reserve infrastructure completely destroyed. We are scraping the mud out of the bathrooms and bedrooms with shovels.  Almost nothing was left standing. Even what the flood left like the cars and beds are completely covered in mud and unsalvageable.”

 

Relief Efforts in Dire Need of Funds

 

Women for Conservation stands in solidarity with the people of Puerto Pinzón and other affected areas. We also express our deep gratitude to our forest rangers for their commitment to conservation and care despite the adversities and challenges that may arise along the way.

 

We are urgently  seeking funds to help these women organize relief efforts in their community, and we have already successfully delivered 60 mattresses to the elderly and vulnerable through the women’s organizing efforts.

 

If you would like to join us in supporting the victims of this flood, please consider donating to our Urgent Response Relief Fund.