The sowing of water
The great ‘minga’ (community work)
25 May 2022
This piece has been updated since it first appeared to incorporate Rachael Maysels' thoughts and responses to World Environment Day 2022.
The idea of 'living in harmony with nature' is not a new concept, but has been deeply embedded in many indigenous ontologies for centuries, if not millennia. While most modern societies and science consider humans separate from nature, most indigenous worldviews consider humans part of nature. The disconnection between nature and humans has been identified as a driving force of anthropic environmental harm, assigning instrumental value to nature and leading to an extractive, utilitarian relationship.
As socio-environmental issues become more dire (climate change, biodiversity loss, water and food insecurity), more recognition, respect, and value are given to indigenous ontologies, knowledge systems, and expertise in research. In the Andean region of the department of Cauca, Colombia, the Kishu indigenous people have built a reciprocal relationship with water. Through the ancestral process of sowing water, the community has successful recuperated springs, streams, and lakes within their territory. This video showcases the importance of sowing water for the recovery of their sacred lake, Laguna de Kisgó.
"We should take care of water because it will take care of us in the future."
Original post, published 9/8/2021
“In the Andes of Colombia, communities sow water.”
Our Colombian team have been working in partnership with indigenous peoples and local communities in the Upper Cauca River Basin, focusing on capacity building and systematisation, integrating advanced technology with indigenous and local knowledge.
Hub researchers collaborated with women of the Andean indigenous reservation of Kisgó to organise a mass event known as “sowing water”, in which 22,000 native trees were planted to increase water production in the territory.
The concept of “sowing water” is an Andean rural community epistemology and is a process in which native trees are planted to improve ecological and hydrological health in degraded areas, reviving rivers and lakes, and preserving traditional culture.
The project combined drone technology and GIS software with indigenous and local knowledge of the territory to create a planting and monitoring system that will achieve maximum hydrological prosperity and other benefits from the ecological restoration, as well as cultural preservation through digital documentation and training.
Nora Mueles Fernandez: “It’s very important to support this process because it’s very nice for us as women to be part of this and see ourselves represented.”
Juan Bautista Solarte: “What will happen to our future? Do we continue clearing the forests? Or do we want water?”
Kishú lake has been successfully restored through the sowing of water, and the Kisgó community continues to sow water for the wellbeing of their peoples and their territory.
Experience the process of sowing water in this video.