In this spotlight, Agustín Gama, Pure Earth’s new Country Director for Mexico, shares an update on the work of our team in Mexico.
“Pure Earth opened up a world of possibilities to improve life, mainly for those most in need in Mexico. Every action and every minute is crucial. There is no greater joy in life than to honor your commitments to those you are dedicated to help” – AGUSTÍN GAMA.
I am so proud to lead Pure Earth Mexico in this new phase, where we continue to innovate sustainable solutions to increase our reach and impact in new regions and with more stakeholders to prevent lead poisoning in Mexico. I am confident we can accomplish our goals with our dedicated team of professionals, who work every day for the health and development of the country. The Pure Earth Mexico team is made up of highly experienced individuals that have worked in leading international companies, organizations, and academic institutions and are considered leaders in their respective fields.
This year, we are continuing to work closely with pottery communities and pottery stakeholders through our three programs: Barro Aprobado, Círculos de Mujeres, and the Lead-free food alliance. We will focus our efforts on developing and improving government commitment and regulations, academic investigation, and business participation, through agreements that we are signing this year.
To increase public awareness and advocacy, we are working with media, influencers, and cultural organizations that allow our message to reach a wider and more diverse audience. For example, for the first time, we have a four-month exhibit of lead-free pottery created by our Círculo de Mujeres participants, in the prestigious Popular Arts Morelos Museum.
A summary of our work and achievements is available in our Annual Report 2022 (Spanish). See highlights below:
Barro Aprobado is a Pure Earth México program to promote lead-free pottery to reduce the population’s blood lead levels while protecting traditional pottery cultural heritage. In 2022, we conducted 31 training workshops, coordinated 24 pottery bakes in our innovative oven design, and participated in five pottery sales events.
The reach of our community training programs increased because it was adopted and successfully replicated by state health authorities. We now have a presence in three states, and this year we will initiate activities in at least one more.
In 2022, 15 restaurants and 17 boutiques shops joined our program to use lead-free pottery. We reached the La Merced market, which is the largest pottery sales point in the country. We exchanged lead-glazed pottery for lead-free alternatives for seven street vendors in Mexico City.
This year we will develop a web-based resource center for potters, to encourage and aid in lead-free pottery production. This center will gather all the knowledge acquired in 15 years of working directly with pottery communities and will be an active communication channel with all potters in the region, thus significantly increasing our reach.
Círculo de Mujeres Hechas de Barro (Circle of Women)
Círculo de Mujeres Hechas de Barro is a Pure Earth México program that supports women in lead-free pottery production in rural communities. The program empowers women, strengthens the sense of community, provides technical training, and develops business knowledge, thus establishing lead-free pottery production as a viable alternative to support hundreds of families.
We have reached over 40 pottery families and built 14 communal ovens using our innovative, more efficient design. Through three national pottery meetings, we reached new communities to expand the program. The program’s impact has helped impoverished families thrive by going lead free. For example, read the story of these two families.
This year we are presenting the Lead-free Traditional Pottery Exhibit in the Popular Arts Morelos Museum, where we are showcasing the work of the women trained in the program. This exhibit, the first of its kind, will last four months and has the participation of cultural, health, and tourism officials, and Pure Earth’s donors.
The Lead-Free Food Alliance
The Lead-Free Food Alliance unites companies, academic institutions, government, restaurants, commerce, and civil society organizations in an effort to support Mexico’s lead-solutions and promote lead-free pottery. This Alliance is the only one of its kind that represents all Mexican pottery stakeholders at various levels. Watch the video
In 2022, we celebrated the Alliance’s first anniversary with 27 allies and three events in emblematic venues. During the year, the Alliance conducted 159 blood lead level tests and coordinated 1000 more with the government (ENSANUT), registered 323 lead-free pottery vendors, and organized nine conferences in prestigious academic institutions. To learn more about the Alliance, visit the website Alianza Comida Libre de Plomo.
Advocacy and Awareness
Lead poisoning is considered a silent epidemic in Mexico, where public participation is fundamental to activate the necessary actions and rally support to prevent lead poisoning. Pure Earth Mexico focuses on social communication activities to increase reach, engagement, and advocacy.
In 2022, we reached the public through 26 interviews, 43 newspaper articles, and 169 digital media outputs. To raise awareness, we launched two digital campaigns #LeadSolutions and #SinPlomoEnLaMesa. We continue to increase our influence with social network accounts, 12 videos, and seven life stories.
This year we are working with the media, influencers, and cultural organizations that allow our message to reach a wider and more diverse audience.