Fundación Un Alto en el Desierto

Fundación Un Alto en el Desierto: Un Alto en el Desierto

Ovalle, ChileOvalle, Chile
Year Founded:
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

UAD works to raise awareness about water in areas with problems of drought. Mainly with children of vulnerable schools. Using simple methods: recycling handwash water and rainwater harvest through school´s roofs. Results: conscious kids, replicable initiative for nearby community and school gardens.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if UAD helps to get benefit from available water in school communities insert in chilean drought areas?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The project deals with desertification and climate change in drought areas of Chile. This situation has meant migration from all rural areas of the region, low incomes and low quality of life of its inhabitants. In Chile, there is no formal education about how to face natural phenomenons such as drought: there is water supply help, but not technical assistance to help people living with available water resourses in a sustainable way.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Raise awareness about water scarcity and use. To achieve this, UAD works with school communities, using the scientific method to demonstrate and visualize how much water is possible to recycle in drought areas. Using simple techniques such as installation of gutters and tanks to harvest rainwater, and the intervention of handwashes to recycle gray water, children learn to manage efficiently water resources they have. With recycled water, each school develops a school garden, schoolyard resforestacion, or other project significant to the community. The scientific research is exposed to local neighbours and other school communities so everybody have the opportunity to learn and replicate the initiative.


"100 Jovenes Lideres 2013", from El Mercurio Journal. Premio "Territorio Chile 2009". "Premio Nestlé", 2008.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

UAD project makes a difference because it implements effective water recycling, conducts scientific research in schools to systematize the potential litres of recycle water in drought areas in Limari´s Province (Region of Coquimbo), and generates products related to recycled water use, such as reforestation in schoolyards and school gardens. The information is exposed in scientific conferences by the students. In addition, it brings together different actors, all contributing collavorativel to this initiative to be beneficial for school students, such as municipalities, universities, local communities and companies. This project, also impacts in volunteers. They are university students living a experience to enrich proffesional skills.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Amount of recycled water: between 2014 and July 2015 were recycled 783,231 liters of rain and grey water. Another way to measure the impact of UAD is the volunteer incorporation of the project in the School Improvement Plans (strategic planning tool of educational institutions, which guide the improvement of institutional and pedagogical processes), and in the Institutional Education Program (training and educational educational establishment horizon) by the teachers and school authorities. That decision indicates what important initiative this project is for schools. Since the begginings of UAD (2011), 20 schools have been part of the project and in 2015, 1438 children, belongs to the network. Around 5000 people are indirect beneficiaries (including school communities and families). The future impact in short term, implies the increase in twice the number of project beneficiaries.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

The desired impact of the project in the next five years is to expand the initiative in the whole Coquimbo´s Region and replicate the idea to other areas of the country affected by drought. In this sense, be an example of sustainable initiatives to every school in dry areas of <Chile. In addition, we would like to expand into other territories the ability to develop effective environmental education, contextualized to local problems. Un Alto en el Desierto Foundation aims to be a platform for developing ideas such as UAD, being the support of these and helping to develop them.

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

This project is mostly funded by Engie, private power generation company, located nearby the influence area of the project. UAD also has support of municipalities which provide movilization, and in some cases perform maintenances of project infrastructure in schools. This year UAD conducted a crowfonding campaign. We use a diversified way to finance the project to not rely solely on one financial institution, wich could be unsustainable.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are several entities, including the Environment Ministry, working in environmental education but currently we don´t know any organization working with this specific problem. UAD differ with other envorinmental education initiatives because develops contextual education, articulates a network of schools with the same problems and provide spaces to share experiences with other kids and community, to spread knowledge. Furthermore, UAD works with volunteers who monthly monitor and help work at schools. The school program of UAD allows teacher to use the project for different school subjects.

Founding Story

Years ago a teacher, a peasant leader, a professional geographer, a grandmother, a few children went up to a hill. Children drew what they saw around them showing adults the land degradation, lack of green areas, and the absence of children to play and study. Grandma said that years ago, all those hills, were covered with wheat, and there was much activity, youth people, work and traditions. At that moment, everyone on the tophill swore to reverse dryness with water harvesting and planting seeds. Down the hill, they met a university professor, on a remarkable coincidence. Within days they became friends, worked together, sought funding and start working with local community and school.


Currently, Un Alto en el Desierto Foundation has it´s entire team working on the project Un Alto en el Desierto (UAD). The Founder of the Foundation, Nicolas Schneider, is a geographer with 10 years of experience in projects against desertification, FAO has worked at the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. Works part time in the design and improvement of the project. President of the Foundation, Daniel Rojas (technician in administration), is a social leader with over 20 years of experience in community projects. Works full time in the design, improvement and implementation of the project. The Director, Natalia Rebolledo (Public Administrator) has more than 8 years of experience in leading and coordinating processes and teams. Work full time in the design, improvement and implementation of the project. Finy Maluenda, Director of the Foundation, is a Basic Education Teacher with over 20 years experience in rural and urban education. Works part time in the design and improvement of the project. Catalina Bravo, geographer, is the project coordinator, with 2 years experience in project coordination, works part time in the implementation and improvement of the project. Currently volunteers are from Santiago, theme all geography students of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile. In the future, the university volunteers will be local, and we hope they will be students from different profesional careers. In the future, when the project incorporate more schools into the network, we will work with more project coordinators.
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:


Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:


Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Clean Water and Sanitation.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

I worked in vulnerable schools in Santiago for about a year and a half, helping students improve their school performance, which implies a strong tool in the knowledge of the dynamics of educational establishments.
I was also scout leader for four years, experience that implies notions about dealing with children and teamwork skills.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

I´m not working with people beyond the existing team of UAD.