Water Equity Clearinghouse

La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE)

Rio Grande Valley, TX

Founded by labor rights activist César Chávez, La Unión del Pueblo Entero (LUPE) is a network of communities seeking to organize and sustain a member-driven movement that creates social change. LUPE works on a number of issues including the provision of social services, resistance against deportations, harnessing civic engagement to put pressure on local officials, and the creation of English programs to build capacity among colonia residents.

Efforts to Advance Water Equity

Colonias are rural, unincorporated residential areas along the Mexico-Texas border that often do not receive the same services of nearby cities, such as adequate street lighting or water infrastructure. These areas also tend be high poverty, unemployment, and disease rates. To address these challenges, LUPE uses leadership training, colonia committee building, and strategic action plans to hold decision makers accountable to their constituents.

LUPE has assisted colonias in winning some major victories for their communities. For example, LUPE and the Housing Working Group helped colonias petition Hidalgo County Commissioners to set aside $14 million for drainage improvements from Hurricane Dolly disaster funds. This will help bring infrastructure to residents who are sometimes faced with stagnant water for weeks, which can breed disease, invite disease-carrying mosquitos, carry pollution into homes, and have a negative impact on human health. The resulting project, taking place in six colonias in the Rio Grande Valley, broke ground in May of 2016. Hidalgo County Officials hope to see this drainage infrastructure project finished within a year of its commencement.