grantees » Leon Alberto Perez Manzanera

Leon Alberto Perez Manzanera, Mexico

Growing up in Mexico, Leon used to think that the environmental damage he was seeing around him was caused by rural communities; the very same rural communities that depend on the environment for their livelihood. This fact never sat well with him and later he traveled around Mexico visiting indigenous communities where he found the opposite to be true. He saw local communities’daily fight to preserve their natural resources with everything against them: transnational companies, government and poverty!’  Though he was a trained veterinarian, be decided to set up and dedicate his life to Tonelhuayotzin Nuestra Raíz, a not-for-profit organization that promotes rural development through grass-roots innovation, indigenous knowledge sharing, and advocating of equal opportunities for all.

As an environmental steward and civil activist, Leon received a grant from the JWH Initiative to attended courses and workshops in:  

  • Innovative Biomass solutions for rural communities (Partnership for Clean indoor Air – PCIA)
  • Strategic planning for Not-for-profits/NGOs (administration, accounting, marketing and fundraising)
  • Rainwater harvesting systems
  • Advanced qualification  in permaculture/keyline, microbiology and organic agriculture

Now, with a better grasp of green technologies, permaculture and the vision of his NGO clearer, Leon’s aim is to improve and upscale the groundbreaking work they have already started in various indigenous communities.

At the local elementary school they have built a community fish pond and greenhouse to localize dependency and show tomorrow’s leaders they can live off what is around them. In the communities of Mixtec and Triqui they are promoting and installing safer, more efficient and convenient Ñuu Savi (land of the rain) wood stoves and composting dry toilets to reduce water pollution. To date they have installed 800 Ñuu Savi stoves, and currently Leon is drafting a proposal for WWF aimed at quantifying the effects of the program. By doing so, Leon will hopefully be able to on the one hand improve the socio-environmental program, making it more productive and holistic while simultaneously rolling out similar programs in other Oaxaca communities. One day he hopes to see the people of Oaxaca [his home state] and my organization drafting a development plan that sees all the communities responsible for their own success, success that strengthens cultural identity, regenerates the environment and improves the living conditions of all.”


Nominated by

Andrea Moctezuma Mendosa;  La Candelaria Distrito Federal; Mexico.