How I Use Project WET: Changing Perspectives About Water

Angie Gabriela Olaya Acosta of ColombiaAngie Gabriela Olaya Acosta, a Project WET facilitator in Colombia Editor’s note: This interview was arranged by Allison Howe and translated from the original Spanish by Kyla Smith.

It has been almost exactly four years since Angie Gabriela Olaya Acosta was trained as a Project WET facilitator in her home country of Colombia. Now part of one of Project WET’s partner organizations in Colombia, the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Cundinamarca (Corporación Autonoma Regional de Cundinamarca, or CAR, a Colombian government agency), Angie says that Project WET has helped her educate all kinds of people about the importance of water.

“I started as a volunteer in the cities of the province of Gualivá and participated in a training program with CAR and CORPOBOYACA, where we trained the educators in the department so they could replicate Project WET in their schools and water utilities,” Angie said. “Later, I worked with CAR to strengthen the program being introduced in schools, which had great results from a project developed in 2015. During 2016 and 2017 we have been creating new spaces to implement the activities and initiating new educational programs, in companies, universities, business organizations, and more schools and water utilities. We have also been able to apply the methodology to many of the educational strategies developed by CAR. It is a valuable and very versatile tool that I have been able to take advantage of!”

Allison said it was inspiring to work with incredibly passionate and driven facilitatorsAllison (far left) met Angie in Colombia last fall Allison met Angie at last year's  International Meeting of WET Methodology and Strengthening for the Management of Water Resources in Colombia last fall. She suggested that we talk to Angie about her experiences using Project WET:

Project WET Foundation (PWF): How do you use Project WET in your work? What activities are particularly useful to you and why?

Angie Gabriela Olaya Acosta (AO): I have primarily used the activities in the Water and Education Guide from Colombia. I’ve used those 32 activities many, many times—they are excellent, practical and fun. I have learned how to adapt them to a lot of different settings, which has given the best results. Some favorites that I like the most are “The Incredible Journey”, “Seeing Watersheds”, “8-4-1, One for All”, and “Puzzle” (Rompecabezas). They are my most recommended activities, and I almost always include them in my training workshops. I also like using the Clean and Conserve activities from the Ecolab project; my favorites are “Soap Science” and “Healthy Natural Environments”. At CAR, we’ve also developed some new activities to teach about locally relevant water topics. Of these, my favorites are “Water Loss” and “Interact with the Wetland”!

Angie has trained people from many different backgrounds to use Project WETAngie has trained people from many different backgrounds to use Project WET PWF: Why is water education important to you personally?

AO: Because I am convinced that the problem of water is a social problem, more than a technical or economic one. Only by changing people’s perspective of water can we ensure that it reaches more and more people, and also the natural elements we share it with.

PWF: What are your future plans for water education?

Allison joined Angie and several other facilitators to conduct a two-day training workshop at Lake Neusa in ColombiaAllison joined Angie and several other facilitators to conduct a two-day training workshop at Lake Neusa in Colombia AO: If I have the opportunity to continue with CAR, I can visualize larger educational programs and partnerships with other corporations so that this methodology can reach other parts of the country. I have also been thinking about the possibility of developing activities not published in a physical guide, but rather with short videos of a maximum 2 minutes in length that better demonstrate each part of the activities and their preparation, at least for the activities created by CAR.

In the not-too-distant future, I hope to have concrete figures about the effect of the methodology in our local communities, so that we can show proof of its positive effects and effectiveness.

Thank you very much for taking our experience into account, which is not only mine but also that of an entity that values the methodology, some committed facilitators and an enchanting geographical area.


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