The book A Precious Liquid: Drinking Water and Culture in the Valley of Mexico written by Ennis-Mcmillan (2005) reveals a story about the way residents of a small Mexican village manage the water deficiency, but in regard to the cultural values of the community.
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In particular, lack of water resources is regarded as community resource that is premised on social participation in religious and social life in the community.
Efficient development of water management in the Valley of Mexico should not be confined to mere consideration of engineering principles and integration of new technology.
On the contrary, water control systems should also be regarded as cultural systems that derive from specific meanings, practices and histories.
In the Mexican community, water management has been shaped by culture or irrigation that reflects community efforts to encounter external threats and problems to monitoring and preservation of water resources.
In this respect, water management was based on three basic values, including increased importance of communal fashion of handling water resources, respect for traditional techniques of water distribution, and withdrawal of sanctions imposed on household’s water supply.
All these values overthrow the stereotypes concerning traditional gender hierarchies and encourage equal participation of men and women in effective water management.
Latin Americans realize the veritable value of water for the community and, therefore, it is closely connected to their class-based concerns, including class-based inequality and gender differentiation.
Specifically, Latin American women often face significant challenges when it comes to adequate water supply. More importantly, they spend a considerable amount of time and labor to ensure that they are supplied with water sufficiently.
Extreme participation and community mobilization is considered at the core of the community values. Cultural aspects of water supply are also strongly connected to transition of traditional roles of women as mothers and wives in an effort to satisfy the core needs of the community.
Increased responsibility for managing water crisis proves how social and power struggles, as well as cultural changes, influence social relations in the domestic field.
The emerged values date back to rich traditional, historical, and social background of the community located in the Valley of Mexico. For instance, fiesta traditions can also be regarded the underpinning predetermining the collective efforts made to repair the irrigation system.
According to Ennis-McMillan, “integrated management implies finding better ways to resolve conflict among competing uses of water and incorporate community participation to involve all users, including women, in all phases of the planning, decision-making, and allocation of water resources” (24).
The integrated techniques call for deeper understanding of social and cultural dimensions of water management, as well as for better recognition of water ecological systems. The origin of the cultural values, therefore, takes roots in the Mexican ancient history of social and economic development.
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In this respect, social infrastructure contributes greatly to the formation of traditions, customs, and gender roles in the Latin American culture. This is of particular concern to the role of women playing in water management in their households.
In addition, water management is closely related to the way the community perceives such aspects as distribution, quantity, and quality. For instance, the culture and social environment of Latin Americans “…demonstrates how people use culture to address some of the difficult challenges of sustaining community in drinking water management” (Ennis-McMillan 28).
Resource distributions, therefore, cannot be confined to the matters of engineering and management practices that only shape the basic of social relations.
Community in the valley of Mexico plays an important factor in development social development. Therefore, the welfare and security of the Latin American community comes to the forth when it comes to distribution of resources.
In addition, the increased importance of water distributions depends on the production methods in the community. Because the community members were concerned with producing food, water irrigation was part of that agricultural tradition.
It is imperative to understand the process of social and cultural evolution, its behavior and development, in an effort to demonstrate decisions and choices influencing the progress of Mexican culture. The obtained knowledge derives from comparing, observing, and contrasting various traditions within one community.
In this respect, Ennis-McMillan states, “community-based practices emerge out of a history of intense contact with broader economic and political forces, which helps build local resistance” (135).
With regard to the political situation, the community in the valley of Mexico was much more concerned with the importance of water. A traditional community-based method implies that drinking water is considered more than a service that the residents use for money exchange.
In the course of development of social structures in the valley of Mexico, as well as shifts in governmental politics, the water use in the community also undergoes significant changes because it influences the participation of residents in resources distribution.
Despite these changes, the water demand in these communities is closely correlated with the need to survive. Extreme care for health in this region is another potential reason for their active engagement in management practices.
In addition, because the Mexican community refers to marginal societies with poor economic level, the integrated cultural practices are crucial for preserving traditional attitudes. The community seeks to optimize productive systems to implement the corresponding shifts for sustaining optimal living conditions.
Women still play a pivotal role in sustaining normal water distributions because of their increased concern with the health of their children. In this respect, Ennis-McMillan writes, “[many children] suffering from water-related illnesses live in marginal areas with little access to sufficient water to meet basic needs” (132).
In the majority of cases, these challenges occur beyond the established rural communities that are not linked to industrial sectors of the country. Inconsistency in water sustainability culture could create a significant threat to the agricultural sector in the valley.
This is of particular concern to sugar production. Throughout the history of the community development, sugar industry has undergone progression due to the government interventions.
It has also motivated to provide cheap sugar to customers, but economic crisis resulted in bankruptcy and lack of technological resources. Therefore, the community considered it important to collectively participate in the revival of the region.
In conclusion, it should be stressed that community-based practices in the valley of Mexico were primarily predetermined by cultural values, including increased importance of household activities, community role in water management and distributions, and traditional foundations of perceiving the concept of water in shaping the welfare of the marginal community.
More importantly, water management practices were also associated with the shifts in gender roles in the community. This is of particular concern to women who actively participated in renewing the system of water distribution and irrigation.
Ennis-McMillan, Michael C. A Precious Liquid: Drinking Water and Culture in the Valley of Mexico. Belmont, CA: Wadswort, 2006. Print.