Students Visiting the Center for Ecological Agriculture

Students Visiting the Center for Ecological Agriculture

Last Thursday, 81 1st and 2nd grade students from colegio Santa Luisa De Marillac in Cochabamba visited Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA). They watched educational videos about water conservation and use, toured the demonstration center, and played in the community park that is currently under construction at the CEA.

Watching educational videos about water use and management.

Watching educational videos about water use and management.

Checking out the dry bathroom at the CEA.

Checking out the dry bathroom at the CEA.

Taking some time to play!

Taking some time to play!

Providing Tours & Training is a Focus at the CEA

Mano a Mano’s Center for Ecological Agriculture (CEA) provides training and tools to improve food security & nutrition for Bolivian farm families. The training includes everything from workshops for farmers, to tours for local students to learn more about the environment, like this group of students last week. There are people visiting the CEA on a nearly daily basis.

In 2015, the CEA provided training for 1,694 people:

  • 219 farmers
  • 1,397 schoolchildren
  • 54 school teachers
  • 24 government officials

What is the Center for Ecological Agriculture?

Why Did We Build the CEA?

At its base, Mano a Mano is a community development organization:

  • We partner with Bolivian communities on projects that they identify, focusing on the most basic needs that are currently going unmet.
  • We bring many different people together to complete projects that none of us could do on our own.
  • We focus on projects that are sustainable – we maintain strong relationships with communities but we try to help people help themselves and have them take control and ownership of projects. Ongoing maintenance and administration are handled by the communities.
  • We want our projects to be integrated and serve as springboards for other projects – sometimes through more projects with Mano a Mano, and sometimes through the Bolivian government or other organizations who build upon the base provided through our first project. For example:
    • With Mano a Mano’s 37-mile El Palmar road project that was completed in late 2014, the Bolivian government is taking advantage of the improved transportation and is currently building 3 new bridges, a school, new housing, and installing electricity along the road.
    • Often, when Mano a Mano builds a clinic, it is the first project in the community, with the understanding that if the community and local government meet their obligations and do well Mano a Mano will continue working with the community on other projects like schools and community bathrooms.
    • The first implementation project with the CEA – building greenhouses in Jironkota – builds on the clinic that Mano a Mano completed there in 2013.
Mano a Mano's clinic in Jironkota.

Mano a Mano’s clinic in Jironkota.

The CEA was a natural addition and complements many of our existing initiatives, while filling a need that was not being met with our previous projects. To give just one example, the clinic we have in Jironkota provides healthcare access for the area, but does not address some of the basic issues that cause rural Bolivian farmers to get sick in the first place – primarily nutrition and food security.

The greenhouses (yellow-topped buildings) now dot the landscape in Tapacari.

Mano a Mano greenhouses (yellow-topped buildings) now dot the landscape in Tapacari.

What Does the CEA Do?

Some of the tools available through the CEA.

Some of the tools available through the CEA.

The CEA achieves 4 distinct goals for Mano a Mano:

  • implements low-cost, low-tech tools for Bolivian communities
  • provides training and demonstration of sustainable farming techniques at the center (the ‘open book’ to show farmers what is possible)
  • provides a place for Mano a Mano to test and pilot different projects before implementing in the field (the ‘Mano a Mano lab’)
  • integrates Mano a Mano as an organization (3 out of our 4 counterpart organizations are building their offices or warehouses on the same plot of land) – it serves as the ‘Mano a Mano hub’ in Cochabamba
Farmer from Jironkota going through a training exercise, mapping his community, at the CEA.

Farmer from Jironkota going through a training exercise, mapping his community, at the CEA.



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