Magdalena Zamora, Facilitator

Magdalena Zamora shows Aedes larvas to a member of her community.

When SEPA came to my neighbourhood in 2004 and gave me the results of my son’s saliva samples, which said he had been infected by the dengue virus, my life changed, because this was about what was most precious to me; this marked the beginning of a commitment and love for SEPA and the development of my community. This was when I began to be interested in becoming organised and joining other residents from my neighbourhood to create a brigade to reduce positivity and the number of children infected by the virus.

That is how I started down this long road; I acquired knowledge, experiences and, most of all, learned the power of evidence to break barriers. When what we say is backed with evidence and based on experience in our own households, it can have a lifelong impact that makes people change and become empowered.

SEPA was important for me because I saw the evidence from my own household and community, learned about the Aedes life cycle and how to carry out a true evidence-based dialogue and socialise with my neighbours about dengue.

I was the brigade’s delegate for a year, and we managed to reduce our neighbourhood’s positivity and number of children infected by the virus, and to stop relying on chemicals, which led to our being recognised by the health ministry, UC Berkeley and CIET as the first green neighbourhood.

In this new study, the most important change is the empowerment of households in the neighbourhood, which resulted from the consciousness fostered by evidence-based dialogue about the costs of the disease and costs of the chemical products used to fight the adult mosquito.

People have been motivated by evidence from their own households to take actions such as covering and cleaning their barrels and sinks. Each household suggests its own alternatives to control breeding-sites at home and on their own. For example, the households that were storing water in barrels that tested positive for larvas because they didn’t use or empty the water decided to empty them, put them away and fill only the containers that the household will use. Also, households are noticing lower rates of mosquitoes at night, which is something they express spontaneously.