By Yolanda Salazar
La Paz, October 23 (EFE) .- Rosa Jalja and Elizabeth Zenteno are two of dozens of indigenous women from Bolivia and Peru who have come together for five years to advocate for action to protect Titicaca, the sacred lake that countries share.
The group includes some 50 prominent women from indigenous communities on the shores of what is South America’s largest lake, covering more than 8,500 kmÂ². (3,300 square miles) and the world’s highest navigable lake, located at an elevation of 3,000 meters (10,000 feet).
Jalja, a resident of Copacabana, Bolivia, told Efe that she became involved in the defense of Titicaca because she saw the lake as a “father” whose health was her responsibility.
“We take the water from the lake, so we consider Lake Titicaca to be like a person and we have to make sure that he is not sick,” she said.
The organization, Women United in Defense of Water, has encouraged cleanup efforts on both sides of the border.
They have also established a presence in schools in the area, educating young people on measuring water quality and raising awareness among children about the importance of the lake, Vania Albarracin from Agua Sustentable (Sustainable Water ), a Bolivian NGO that supports women’s work.
Environmental engineer Elizabeth Zenteno said she joined Women United earlier this year with the aim of bringing new ideas to the project.
Women are the people who âsufferâ the most from the damage caused to Lake Titicaca by pollution and climate change because they are usually the ones who have to travel ever longer distances to obtain drinking water for their families, said the 27-year-old activist.
âFor me, Lake Titicaca is life, it is our heritage, it is a natural resource that we must take care of,â Zenteno told Efe.
While some of the pollution that threatens Titicaca is visible, including plastic bottles and other waste thrown to the surface by boats, agricultural and industrial runoff and untreated sewage pose the greatest danger to the environment. human population and wildlife in the region, which includes examples of endangered species Women United members are currently working with other environmental organizations and government agencies on a legal personality proposal that would establish Lake Titicaca as a subject with rights . EFE ysm / dr