Betzabe Valdes Lopez, MDES in Critical Conservation 2019
Organization: Cooperacion Comunitaria, Oaxaca, Mexico
Sponsor: International Travel Community Fellowship
“The final period of our research and project was the community-based surveys. We carried out a cross-sectional study through a randomized-sample survey with a margin of error of 5%. Our sample size took into consideration that the target population in the five municipalities consisted of 151,344 inhabitants. With this in mind, we needed 384 complete surveys to get statistically significant results, and we rounded it to the nearest hundred to obtain 400. We then proceeded to divide the number of interviews per municipality in proportion to its population size: 70 in Ciudad Ixtepec (17.48%), 39 in Asunción Ixtaltepec (9.75%), 22 in El Espinal (5.49%), 246 in Juchitán de Zaragoza (61.47%), and 23 in Santa María Xadani (5.81%). The participants needed to be 18 years or older and had to have lived in the same residence for at least ten years to assure they had lived through the last major flood caused by river overflows, which happened in 2010. Since we did not have access to cadasters, we randomly selected blocks (with a surplus of 43%) and obtained one interview per block. We chose the house in each block systematically, beginning in the northwest corner and moving clockwise until we got a response. If no one was willing to respond, the block did not have eligible residents. Or if the block had no houses, we moved on to the next randomly-selected block.
The survey has information about ten areas: identification, the Las Nutrias River, floods, earthquakes, rubble management, waste management, post-disaster aid perception, culture and identity, public space, and economy, safety, and health. To carry it out, we hired two groups of eight surveyors each, all of whom were local young adults. The study lasted approximately five weeks, with the first group working for the initial two weeks, and the second group taking over afterward. The survey will help us understand the stigmas associated with different subjects, as different aspects of education on prevention.
Later, we visited additional towns. With the team from Cooperación Comunitaria, we went to a town called Nizanda, where a lot of the houses are made of mud. The majority of these houses were destroyed due to lack of maintenance, since they did not let the mud breathe. One of the main purposes of Cooperación Comunitaria is to create a conscience of maintenance and eliminate the stigma of materials. (Also, Nizanda has a natural cascade where you can swim, so we did.)
After a long time of work, it was very interesting to submerge ourselves in this community and understand the situation at the present. I am very grateful for having worked with Cooperación Comunitaria, and I still believe they are doing great work.”