We support the livelihood of local residents by encouraging artisan projects, and activities that increase tourism-related income. Our focus has been on supporting Alternare’s ongoing capacity-building workshops. During 2011-2016 period,  MBF provided funding to Alternare to facilitate 946 workshops in different topics, training 11,806 people from the ejidos and indigenous communities in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve.

Sustainable Development 2017

Alternare and their team started 2017 facilitating thirty-nine workshops on diverse topics ranging from sustainable agricultural techniques such as organic farming, to recycling water and managing it sustainably. The workshops were held in ejidos and indigenous communities that own land in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve. A total of 339 women and 140 men participated building five family fuel-efficient stoves, seven dry latrines, two community cisterns, two family cisterns, and two recycling bins for schools.

Cistern in Carpinteros Community

Since 68% of the Río San Juan Zitácuaro watershed spreads out over the Reserve, Alternare is working to improve water management and distribution among the communities. Currently, only 20% of the population has water in their household, the rest resort to placing hoses to extract water from the watershed. To solve this issue, Alternare has implemented five rural water distribution systems among four communities through the construction of cisterns, drafting community agreements and regulations for water use. As a campesino told us, “We used to place pipes to get water and used to argue over who was getting more water than the others but now with the agreements in place everything is more equal and fair.”

Sustainable Development 2016


In the tree nursery
In the tree nursery

Training and community participation are at Alternare’s core and from June to October, a total of 17 workshops resulted in 74 fuel-efficient stoves, 2 community nurseries, 28 cisterns, and 4 dry latrines. This was an amazing accomplishment that empowered 184 women and 202 men from the indigenous communities of Crescencio Morales, Francisco Serrato, Carpinteros, Curungueo, Nicolas Romero and Manzanillo. Reforestation and tree -planting techniques workshops were included and enabled communities to participate in our reforestation efforts.   It is encouraging to witness the increasing number of participants. Just like the trees our collective efforts are also growing!

Showing off the fuel-efficient stove
Showing off the fuel-efficient stove

Sustainable Development 2015

Doña Leticia and her family water their organic vegetable garden with water from the cistern they built
Doña Leticia and her family water their organic vegetable garden with water from the cistern they built

Alternare wrapped up 2015 and started 2016 with loads of workshops and activities! Working with communities in the municipalities of Aporo, Angangueo, Irimbo, Ocampo, Jungapeo and Zitácuaro, they held 37 workshops with the participation of 261 women and 342 men. Workshop topics included forest and fruit tree planting and maintenance, organic fertilizer and vegetable production, soil conservation, computer software and entrepreneurship. These workshops resulted in the construction of six cisterns (four in the communities, two in schools), nine dry latrines (five in schools, four for families) as well as the establishment of two school tree nurseries. Cisterns enable communities to capture rain water for agricultural and personal use providing drinking water once it is boiled. In the words of Doña Leticia Carmona, from the San Francisco Serrato community, “Water used to be scarce and now we store it in the cistern and use it to irrigate the vegetables in our organic garden! It is wonderful and we are very grateful!”

Mother and daughter in front of their fuel-efficient stove in Crescencio Morales community
Mother and daughter in front of their fuel-efficient stove in Crescencio Morales community

Alternare continues offering workshops to restore and conserve the forests and improve the standard of living of the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve’s (MBBR) inhabitants. To reduce pressure from the forest and the natural resources of the area, Alternare promotes creating goods using alternative ecological techniques or what is known as ‘ecotecnias’ in Spanish. They focus is on reducing the use of water and wood resources; hence their training workshops emphasize these topics. During the period of May to October, 2015, seven workshops to build fuel-efficient stoves which use 50% less wood were held. Sixty two participants built sixty one stoves: one for a school, one for a community and fifty nine for individual families. To promote water conservation, four cisterns to capture rainwater were built as a result from a workshop with fourteen participants. Additionally, three workshops to build dry latrines were held with nineteen people resulting in the construction of latrines for five families.

Sustainable Development 2014

In February, MBF donated $25,000 to Alternare to support their work with local communities during 2014. Three MBF board members handed a symbolic check to Alternare at their training center in Mexico. Pictured below from left to right are Ana María Muñiz (Alternare training director), Gabriel Sanchez (campesino instructor), Bob and Gail Morris (MBF board member), Ma. Isabel Ramírez (MBF board member), Guadalupe Del Río (Alternare’s Director), Lincoln Brower (MBF board member) and Mónica Missrie (MBF consultant).

MBF donated $25,000 to Alternare for 2014

Alternare Check Feb.2014

Sustainable Development 2013

With financial support from MBF, HSBC (Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation) and other sources, Alternare held 50 workshops in 34 different localities in Michoacán and one in the State of the México during the first semester of 2013.  A total of 833 women and 480 men were taught to produce organic fertilizer, organic vegetables, forest and fruit trees, and adobe. They also built dry latrines, cisterns, and fuel-efficient stoves. Other workshop topics included solid waste management, sustainable agriculture, water and soil conservation, and participatory community diagnostics, evaluation and planning.  Their results were impressive; 15 cisterns, 61 fuel-efficient stoves, 14 dry latrines were completed along with 76 family vegetable gardens and one school tree nursery where 22,696 fruit and forest trees were retained for future reforestation.

Cistern June 28 B FB Posting June 20 Pic 1

Sustainable Development 2012

Thanks to the generous donations we received from all our donors through GlobalGiving and the prize we received from Healthy Planet because donors clicked on their site, MBF was able to support Altenare’s activities for 2012 with a grant of $12,500.

Among the activities carried out by Alternare were 28 workshops held in April and May to teach communities how to build adobe, fuel-efficient stoves, and cisterns, as well as techniques to produce organic fertilizer and forest trees. Participants enthusiastically embraced all the techniques learned and built a cistern for one community and another one for a school. The most exciting part was that after building 31 fuel-efficient stoves with funding provided by Alternare, more stoves were needed, and several communities raised funds on their own from the local and federal government to build 60 additional ones! More efficient stoves will decrease the need to use as many trees from the monarch wintering area, and provide more healthy cooking environments for local communities. The YouTube video below shows one of our instructors describing how to build a cistern (in Spanish).

From June to August, Alternare joined us in our reforestation efforts and held 6 workshops on how to build fuel-efficient stoves and 2 on cisterns. This led to the construction of 62 stoves and 4 cisterns.

Sustainable Development 2011

During 2011 MBF continued supporting Alternare’s ongoing activities engaging kids, teenagers, adults, men and women from local communities in sustainable activities. With support from MBF and other organizations Alternare was able to conduct eight workshops on forest tree production techniques and six on ways to improve tree planting from June to October. A total of 70 individuals (56 women, 14 men) participated in the former and 189 (70 women and 119 men) in the latter.