Featured Projects

Water Charity is proud to have completed projects in 70 nations and has recently finished our 3,000th project! Here you can find a selection of our featured programs, noteworthy projects, disaster relief efforts and the like. If you would like to find specific projects, we encourage you to use our "Find-A-Project" page where you can sort through our work a number of ways. To see every project, article and conclusion page we have, go to our "Announcements" section.

Malawi Borehole Program

Malawi Borehole Program

Clean Water For Rural Malawi!

NPCA & WC LOGOSThis Malawi Program is a component of the East Africa Water and Sanitation Program, and is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the National Peace Corps Association.
 

Malawi Borehole Program

Malawi has suffered through a terrible and unprecedented drought that has made life very hard for the people there. Many rural villages were forced to trek long distance to gather meager water supplies from sources unfit for human consumption. This program has been enacted to cobat this tragic situation, and has been emminently successful.

In concert with our friends at Village X, Water Charity embarked on a program to provide wells to 7 villages in Malawi. At this point, we have done 10 projects so far, and intend to keep doing more! You can use the donate widgets below to allocate funds specifically for this program.

Each well project has its own project page, links to which can be found at the bottom of the page.  The conclusion pages to each project are linked to their project pages.

Check out this video to get a better idea of the situation in Malawi, and what Water Charity & Village X are doing about it:

Water Charity Malawi filmed by Gareth Burghes

Village X is a Malawi aid organization run by RPCV Michael Buckler, with whom Water Charity has worked on projects in the past. Malawi Country Rep, Myson Jambo, went out to visit villages within the Village X network that had identified a serious water/sanitation problem. Many of these communities are in dire need of clean water. Like Mlenga Village used to (the first  well/ pilot of this program, already completed) prior to March 2015, they fetch water from streams and shallow holes in the ground. Community members suffer from inordinate rates of waterborne illness and women (the primary water fetchers) have been subjected to domestic abuse, rape and, in one case, even death from drowning in a flooded river, because of commutes to and from polluted water sources.Finishing up a new well

Myson has found a number of communities in need of a new borehole installation, spanning three districts and 225 square miles in the Upper Shire Highlands of Southern Malawi (see map) -- Siyabu, Nachuma, Likoswe, Kazembe, Bakili and Mwanga. We have been making boreholes in them one by one. Now, in all, the boreholes have benefited nearly 10,000 people, mostly sustenance farmers and their families living in areas far from government services and significant NGO assistance. All of the original projects have been completed, and many villages have access to clean drinking water for the first time!

Not only have we finished the original 7 village wells successfully and continue to do new wells in new villages, we have enacted a Training Program to increase the number of trained borehole drillers in the region. Many of the wells being done in the region now are made possible by this effort, even if they are not specifically Water Charity projects.  You can find an updated list of projects at the bottom of this page, below you can see the original outline of the program when we started it. Please take the time to click through to the individual projects and their conclusions to see the true scope of this important work!

Original Program Outline:

Locations and Community Descriptions 

See above. Click on the map to expand it, or click here. Each village is marked on the map, and main roads (dirt and asphalt) are shown in yellow. 

Siyabu Village, Zomba District, Malawi. Siyabu is a typical rural Malawian village without running water or electricity, located along a dirt road, about a two-hour walk from the city of Zomba. Linesi Masala, a mother of two and resident of Siyabu, was abused by her husband for taking too long to retrieve water from a shallow well, where wait times were very long. He accused her of using that time to sleep with other men. Her husband subsequently died of dysentery. Approximately five couples in Siyabu have divorced over this issue.

Nachuma Village, Zomba District, Malawi. Nachuma is a typical rural Malawian village without running water or electricity, located along a dirt road, about a two-hour walk from the city of Zomba. Nachuma, an usually large village (two to three times larger than other Village X partner villages), has one operational borehole, built in 1993, that frequently has maintenance problems. Most of the village doesn't use this borehole due to long walking distances. Frola Nachuma, a mother of three and Nachuma resident, was stripped naked by her husband and tied to a pole in the village market. He was angry that she fetched water from a shallow well near their home instead of walking long distances to and from the village's sole borehole. Her husband has since fled the village.

Likoswe Village, Chiradzulu District, Malawi. Likoswe is a typical rural Malawian village without running water or electricity, located about a twenty-minute walk from a rural stretch of paved road, connecting Blantyre and Mulanje. A 13-year-old girl in Likoswe, Mphatso, was recently raped by a man from an adjacent village, while fetching water from a stream. She now has HIV.

Kazembe Village, Mulanje District, Malawi. Kazembe is a typical rural Malawian village without running water or electricity, located along a dirt road, a great distance from any paved road or urban area. Kazembe residents fetch water from the Nalada River. Consequently, infant morality rates are high and, on average, 4 cases of cholera are diagnosed in Kazembe each month.

Bakili Village, Mulanje District, Malawi. Bakili is a typical rural Malawian village without running water or electricity, located along a dirt road, a great distance from any paved road or urban area. Bakili lost a 14-year-old girl who went to fetch water from the local river and presumably drowned. Her body has not been recovered. 

Mwanga Village, Phalombe District, Malawi. Located along a rural stretch of paved road that connects the cities of Zomba and Phalombe, the commercial center of Mwanga has electricity, but many households lack it. In Mwanga, women often ask their husbands to fetch water using their bicycles, from a borehole located far from the village. The men usually resist, leaving wives with no choice except fetching water from nearby, unsanitary sources. 

Problems Addressed

There is no clean water accessible for residents of the villages (except Nachuma, a huge village with one borehole for 1487 people, located far from where most of them live). This leads to illness and, in some cases, death, particularly among children under the age of 5. Residents currently fetch water for drinking and cooking from dirty shallow wells or waterways like streams or rivers. Women, in particular, are vulnerable in the absence of clean, nearby water sources. As described above, in our partner villages, women fetching water from sometimes distant, unsanitary sources have experienced domestic abuse for taking too long (husbands suspect infidelity), rape (when women venture into remote areas), and death from drowning in flooded rivers during the rainy season.Water drum transported by bike.

Project Descriptions

These projects involve building boreholes. Borehole locations were chosen by village project committees, acting on behalf of entire villages. All sites are in publicly accessible places. Construction of all boreholes will be done by EZ Borehole Drillers, a company located in Blantyre, with substantial experience in the area, including the Mlenga borehole funded by Water Charity in February 2015. The installations will take three days to complete. It is expected that water will be reached at about 45 meters, but the wells will be drilled to depths of about 60 meters. Before drilling, a hydro-geographical assessment using electrical measurements will be conducted to find the depth of the underlying aquifer. The boreholes will be guaranteed for one year by EZ Borehole Drillers. The Mlenga borehole is functioning well, with no reported breakdowns or complaints. Above ground, the boreholes will include a standard metal pump mechanism, a cement foundation to protect the pump mechanism, a cement spillway to direct water into a nearby vegetable garden, and a clothes washing station. Water Charity funds will be used to pay for the skilled labor as well as for the materials that cannot be found locally, such as piping, fixtures and fittings, and concrete. Communities will contribute volunteer labor, materials, including bricks and sand, and about $400 in cash.

Project Impacts

Siyabu Village, Zomba District, Malawi. 104 households; 512 people.

Nachuma Village, Zomba District, Malawi. 302 households (258 of whom don't use old borehole due to distance); 1487 people (1270 of whom don't use old borehole due to distance).

Likoswe Village, Chiradzulu District, Malawi. 187 households; 738 people.

Kazembe Village, Mulanje District, Malawi. 179 households; 704 people.

Bakili Village, Mulanje District, Malawi. 97 households; 474 people. 

Mwanga Village, Phalombe District, Malawi. 112 households; 671 people.

Totals: 937 households; 4,369 people.  (now over 1,500 households & 7500 people and counting!)

Malawi RegionsProject Administration

These projects will be administered by Michael Buckler, a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who served in Malawi from 2006 to 2008. He is the founder and CEO of Village X, a social enterprise located in Washington, D.C. dedicated to improving community development work in sub-Saharan Africa.  He is a member of the National Peace Corps Association, Friends of Malawi, and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Washington, D.C.

Monitoring and Maintenance

EZ Borehole Drillers will conduct 2 days of community-based management training per borehole. Trainees will include village chiefs and members of two borehole management committees, a technical committee (responsible for upkeep and maintenance) and a sanitation committee (charged with keeping the borehole tidy and planting a vegetable garden that utilizes excess water from the well). The technical committees will collect a maintenance fee of 100 MK (about 20 cents) per month per household to ensure that there are sufficient funds to adequately maintain the facility and repair it when needed. These are important infrastructure projects that will improve the health and wellbeing of the communities. They are well planned, with strong management and fiscal safeguards in place. They incorporate elements of oversight and buy-in by the residents to make them sustainable into the future.

Fundraising Target

$8,000 per project ($56,000 for all seven)  Although these wells have been funded by an anonymous donor, further donations will go for additional wells. We are currently raising funds for wells 11 - 20, so donate generously!

Comments

EZ Borehole Drillers has already completed half of these wells, with plans to complete these projects in the Southern Region before traveling with their equipment for an extended trip to the Northern Region.  We have also now started our Malawi Borehole Training Program as a subprogram of this one, with the goal of having this team train 2 other teams to operate in other regions of Malawi... The end result will be that we will have 3 teams operating all over Malawi soon, and, thus, be able to do 3 wells at a time!

MALAWI BOREHOLE UPDATE:

2015 in Review: All 7 of the original borehole projects were successfully completed!  Water Charity & Village X validated and improved the model for this program in 2015. We demonstrated donor demand for direct giving and the capacity (time, intellect, know how) of local people to accomplish development faster, better, cheaper, and more transparently.  Communities contributed cash, labor and materials, and project costs were based on local prices. Consequently, this program had up to 8 times more charitable impact per dollar than status quo NGOs.

2015 Village X Infographic

2016 and Beyond:  Water Charity & Village X continue to assess water conditions in rural areas and have continued to create new boreholes for villages in need. The campaign has been very successful, and we even started a Borehole Training Program to increase the number of people trained in making boreholes there. The "ripple effect" from this (more villages getting wells and less time waiting) is just one of the happy side effects of this work. We are happy to say that improved health, and substantially less time spent collecting water from unimproved (often dangerous) sources, has led to increased productivity and improved well being. We hope to continue replicating this success until all villages in need are served.

More data on this successful program! 

Data 1

Data 2

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Water For Zambia Program - Zambia

Water For Zambia Program - Zambia

NPCA - WC Logos

This project is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the National Peace Corps Association.

Location: 
Mansa District School, ZambiMansa District, Luapula Province, Zambia
 
Community Description: 
The primary schools where this project will take place are located in and around Mansa District in the Luapula Provnice of Zambia. These communities and schools are often without electricity and running water. The villages surrounding the schools consist of mud huts with grass thatch roofs. The main source of income in these communities is subsistence farming. 
 
Problem Addressed: 
The lack of safe drinking water at the middle schools of the district is the main problem to be addressed.  
 
Another community need is for food security, as schools are not currently able to create gardens and orchards due to the long distance to reach a water source.  A new water source will allow easy watering of plants and provide improved knowledge of gardening for students, as well as a convenient food supply.
 

Project Description:

This project is to restore water to 13 schools through the installation of a new water pump and associated improvements at each school. 

During Emily’s time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia, she recognized the problem of inadequate access to safe drinking water sources throughout her 20-km catchment area. She was shocked to discover that all of the three schools in the area lacked an on-site, working water source.

Borehole and Pump - ZambiaThere was an existing play pump structure at all three schools, but the pumps had not worked since 2009. With the help of Water Charity, she was able to work with a local government group (similar to a Public Works Department) to renovate the water systems at all three primary schools. Each borehole now functional, and is expected to provide access to clean, safe drinking water for 300 people daily for a lifetime of 50 years.

Emily was informed of 13 other schools in Mansa District, with the identical play pump structures, currently facing water crises. She determined that the problem could easily and affordably be solved with the demolition of the existing structures and installation of new Afridev borehole pumps.

 
When she returned home after her Peace Corps service, she vowed to find a way to return to Zambia and renew her efforts to bring safe water to schools in the country.  She reached out to Water Charity to assist her in this endeavor, and a plan was developed for her to go back to Zambia and do this series of projects as a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer.  Water Charity decided to send her back with enough funding to accomplish this ambitious goal. 
 
This is one of the rare cases where WC paid to send someone to a location, and foot their living expenses while there.  The fact that she is doing 13 schools, and will also be sharing her experience with currently serving PCVs to develop their own WASH development work, makes this cost effective.
 
The work will be supervised by Emily and done by skilled technicians.  At each school, on the first day, there will be some demolition and installation of the pedestals. Then, after one week, allowing the pedestals to cure, the pumps and PVC piping will be installed
 

Each installation will include a runoff area, drain, soak pit, and other improvements as necessary.Mansa School Borehole Project - Zambia

 
Each community will provide the sand and perform the unskilled labor.
 
Each community will create an action plan regarding borehole maintenance, budgeting for spare parts, security, and sensitization of students, teachers, and surrounding communities.
 
Each school will host an orchard and garden.  The project will allow schools to complete other projects which may have been delayed due to a lack of water.
 
During Emily's stay in Zambia, as mentioned above, she will work with serving Peace Corps Volunteers to assist them in developing additional water and sanitation projects.  She will help them with all phases, including conceptualizing with the community, planning and budgeting, implementation, and maintenance and evaluation.  Her efforts in training and support on behalf of Water Charity and the National Peace Corps Association will result in a continuing flow of needed development projects. 

Project Impact: 
3.900 people will benefit from the project.  
 
Mbaso SchoolEach borehole will provide access to clean, safe drinking water for 300 people daily, for an expected lifetime of 50 years. As a result of this clean drinking water source, communities will experience improved health and sanitation. School absences for teachers and pupils (especially girls) will decrease, improving education for all.  There will be an increased knowledge of gardening and agriculture, food security, and community development.
 
Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project: 
Emily McKeone, RPCV
 
Monitoring and Maintenance:
Local Community Maintenance Committees, School Administration, and Mansa District Municipal Council will play roles in the monitoring and maintenance
 
Comments:
In 2014, during Emily McKeone’s Peace Corps service, new boreholes were installed at an initial three primary schools within Mansa District in conjunction with Water Charity, as mentioned above. To read about that project CLICK HERE.  Not only did the communities report improved health and sanitation, but schools were also able to complete construction projects and further develop their infrastructure. This project and its 3 schools/ boreholes served can be considered the pilot project, or 1st project of this program.  Thus, when finished, a total of 16 schools and their defunct boreholes will have been served.
 
Dollar Amount of Project: 
13 additional schools at a cost of $28,000
 

Dollar Amount Needed
$0 - This project has been funded by a major Water Charity donor, who prefers to remain anonymous.

 
Any additional donations will be utilized to fund additional projects in Zambia.
 
Emily at her first borehole project for WC
Water For Zambia

 

East Africa Water & Sanitation Program

Water Charity and National Peace Corps Association East Africa Water and Sanitation Program

NPCA & WC LOGOSWater Charity and the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) have begun a program to implement dozens of water, sanitation, and public health projects in East Africa.

This program is set for $2 million.  The first phase, in the amount of $215,000, resulting in at least 25 new projects was funded by an anonymous donor, and we are into the second phase.

The countries included in the program are Ethiopia, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Zambia, Malawi, Mozambique, Kenya, South Sudan and Madagascar.

Project planning is well underway, and work on the ground has begun on several projects. Individual projects will be phased in for implementation as planning for each is completed.

All projects are scheduled to be completed within a year, and it is anticipated that further funding will be available as the first phase is completed.

UPDATE:  The program has been extremely successful, spawned 6 sub-programs thusfar, and expanded into 2 new countries.  Many of the projects have been completed, and a host of new projects are on the way.  Look at the list at the bottom of the page for links to the various projects.

East Africa Water and Sanitation ProgramThe Partnership 
Water Charity is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, established in 2008 and headquartered in California, that does water, sanitation, and public health projects around the world. It has implemented over 2,500 projects in 67 countries to date, about 95% of them under the direction of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs).

The National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. with a mission to championing lifelong commitment to Peace Corps values. The goals of NPCA are to help the Peace Corps be the best that it can be and help Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) and RPCV groups thrive.

Averill Strasser, Co-Founder and COO of Water Charity, and Glen Blumhorst, President of National Peace Corps Association initiated a partnership in early 2015, that has led to this program and others like it.  The projects themselves continue to be done one at a time under our traditional, super-efficient model, managed by our volunteers on the ground.  While the scope has been expanded, these projects are the same great, high "bang for the buck" projects you have come to know and love from us.

Methodology
The program follows a unique methodology of utilizing the services of PCVs and RPCVs for project management. This imparts a level of cost-effectiveness that is many times that achieved by other organizations doing similar work.  Some of the projects in this program are done in concert with partner NGOs at work in-country.

Within the 8-country program area (now 10), individual projects will be planned and implemented one-by-one, rather than following an imposed and fully-developed plan. The model is based on the premise that there is great need in the entire program area, and the most cost-effective way to save lives and prevent and cure illness is to quickly address those needs in the order in which they arise organically from the communities.

Incorporation of Peace Corps Volunteers
The major portion of the on-the-ground administration of projects will be carried out under the direction of serving PCVs. These are all college graduates who have been trained in country, and possess language, technical, social, and community development skills.

East Africa Water and Sanitation ProgramThere are about 7,200 PCVs serving in 64 developing nations at any point in time. They live and work with members of the community and are involved in all stages of community organization, project conceptualization, planning, implementation, completion, and evaluation.

PCV's often work together in specific areas of the country, and there will be opportunities to aggregate projects that are being done in close geographic and temporal proximity. PCVs working together offer assistance to each other in planning and execution, economies of scale, camaraderie, continuity, sustainability, and ease of evaluation.

All projects will be funded using the normal channels through the Peace Corps Partnership Program after proper review.  This serves to ensure that each project meets a set of stringent requirements, and brings needed resources to assist the Peace Corps in its mission. 

The Role of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Approximately 215,000 people have served as PCVs since the Peace Corps was started about 54 years ago. They represent an important and valuable resource to assist in the role of community development in the world.

NPCA is a partner of Peace Corps, and is the designated organization to represent all RPCVs, and engage to amplify the power of the Peace Corps.

In the past 7 years, many RPCVs have worked with Water Charity to directly implement projects. RPCVs return to their country of service because of a lifelong commitment, and bring with them their prior skills, education, and training.

RPCVs will continue to directly implement projects, but will also be utilized to provide training and support to serving PCVS to assist them in all phases of their projects.

A good example is the Malawi Borehole Program with RPCV Michael Buckler.  In this program we are doing a slew of wells in concert with the NGO he founded when he decided to go back to Malawi (his country of service as a PCV), with the help of Water Charity.

East Africa Water and Sanitation ProgramTypes of Projects
All projects will fall under the categories of water, sanitation, and public health.

Typical projects will be water systems, wells, pumps, tanks, small reservoirs, rainwater catchment systems, irrigation systems, water purification installations, latrines, and handwashing stations.

All projects will require the community participation of labor, materials, and/or money to the extent of about 25% of the project cost.

Where feasible, small costs will be imposed on the villagers for use of newly-created water facilities, such that there will be funds available for maintenance, repair, and replacement when the need arises.

All projects will have community training and education components to teach villagers the technologies employed in the project, the use, maintenance, and repairs of the improvements, and necessary hygiene and public health concepts.

All projects will include a job training component whereby technical skills are imparted on villages such that they will be able to utilize the acquired knowledge and apply it in other communities. The formation of small businesses to proliferate the technology in nearby areas while creating employment and economic incentives will be encouraged. Where feasible, tools will be left behind to serve in this effort.

Sustainability will be ensured by serving PCVs and their replacements, who will visit the project sites at intervals after completion and facilitate needed repairs and improvements.

Implementation

This program is up and running, with 6 major sub-progams and a large number of single projects already.  These subprograms are collections of individual projects in a given country, utilizing a specific technique (i.e. borehole drilling or well rehabilitation) to help the people in need.  We are set to surpass all our goals with this umbrella program.  At the bottom of the page you can find links to everything we're doing.  Directly below, are links to the subprogram pages which showcase all the various projects being done under the auspices of each.

Summary
The program offers unmatched cost effectiveness to implement vital projects using appropriate technology for people across this entire region of Africa. It benefits from our unique model and past knowledge of and experience in the chosen countries. It eliminates the expenses of travel, in-country headquarters and administrative costs, and allows for most project dollars to be directed to materials and skilled labor.

The implementation is already well underway, with most of the original projects already completed, and the phase-in of new projects rapid.  There is a constant flow of new projects in areas of need, and new regions and countries are being added to the program as we are able to create worthy new projects and expand on the successes we have already achieved. A sister program is underway in West Africa which was able to receive funding due to the success of this initiative.

Western Africa Water & Sanitation Program

Clean water or Dirty water

NPCA & WC LOGOSWater Charity and the National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) have begun a new program to replicate the ongoing success of our East Africa Water & Sanitation Program in Western Africa.  It involves the implementation of dozens of water, sanitation, public health, and environmental projects in a number of West African nations.

The initial countries included in the program were:
Senegal, The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Ghana, Togo, Benin, Morocco, Cameroon, Sierra Leone and Liberia.  Guinea was later added.

Si Kunda, The GambiaIt is likely that we will add other countries in the region to the program as it expands, and as security can be ensured..

This program is open ended, and will consist of individual projects both large and small.  These will include our "normal" projects in the region, as well as even larger, more comprehensive efforts.

Project planning is well underway, and work on the ground has begun on several projects. Individual projects will be phased in for implementation as planning for each is completed. 

The Partnership
Water Charity is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, established in 2008 and headquartered in California, that does water, sanitation, public health, and environmental projects around the world. It has implemented around 2,000 projects in 65 countries to date, about 95% of them under the direction of Peace Corps Volunteers (PCVs) and Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs).

The National Peace Corps Association (NPCA) was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. with a mission to championing lifelong commitment to Peace Corps values. The goals of NPCA are to help the Peace Corps be the best that it can be and help Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) and RPCV groups thrive.

Averill Strasser, RPCV, Co-Founder and COO of Water Charity, and Glen Blumhorst, President of National Peace Corps Association, are working together in the implementation of this program.

open wellMethodology
The program, along with much of the work done by Water Charity, follows a unique methodology of utilizing the services of PCVs and RPCVs for project management. This imparts a level of cost-effectiveness that is many times that achieved by other organizations doing similar work. In this way, travel and administrative expense are eliminated, as there are capable, local-language-speaking, highly-motivated PCVs already living in the villages where the projects are taking place.

Most often, these projects arise out of the relationship between the PCVs and their host communities, and an effort to bring these villages together on their water & sanitation issues.  This generally involves the formation of a local water committee, the use of entirely local labor, local materials sourcing, and a real commitment on the part of the people who benefit from the projects to monitor & maintain them. 

This is a sustainable and successful model in which the community is invested in the outcome and members are motivated to preserve the improvements.  With the community contributing materials, labor, and money, villagers have a sense of pride and ownership, leading to long-term success.

Within the 10-country program area, individual projects will be planned and implemented one-by-one, rather than following an imposed and fully-developed plan. The model is based on the premise that there is great need in the entire program area, and the most cost-effective way to save lives and prevent and cure illness is to quickly address those needs in the order in which they arise organically from the communities.

 Making soap    Incorporation of Peace Corps Volunteers
The major portion of the on-the-ground administration of projects will be carried out under the direction of serving PCVs. These are all college graduates who have been trained in country, and possess language, technical, social, and community development skills.

There are about 7,000 PCVs at any given time worldwide, with about 1,200 in the designated program area. These PCVs live and work with members of the community, and, in the implementation of our WATSAN projects, they are involved in all stages of community organization, project conceptualization, planning, implementation, completion, and evaluation.

Where there are opportunities to aggregate projects that are being done in close geographic and temporal proximity, we aim to get PCVs working together and offering assistance to each other in planning and execution. This has benefits of economy of scale, camaraderie, continuity, sustainability, and ease of evaluation.

All in all, Water Charity projects serve to strengthen the Peace Corps, and allow PCVs to contribute meaningfully to the health and wellbeing of their host villages.  Projects are often secondary to the primary program assignment of a PCV.  However, such projects always add to the value of the Peace Corps service by bringing needed resources to the village, and creating tangible community development results. 

     The Role of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
Approximately 215,000 people have served as PCVs since the Peace Corps was started about 54 years ago. They represent an important and valuable resource to assist in the role of community development in the world.

Senegal woman in project groupNPCA is a partner of Peace Corps, and is the designated organization to represent all RPCVs, as well as to amplify the power of the Peace Corps.

In the past 7 years, many RPCVs have worked with Water Charity to directly implement projects. RPCVs return to their country of service because of a lifelong commitment, and bring with them their prior skills, education, and training.

RPCVs will continue to directly implement projects, but will also be utilized to provide training and support to serving PCVs to assist them in all phases of their projects.

Types of Projects
All projects fall under the categories of water, sanitation, public health,and environment, and many of these serve double duty, in that they also cover multiple areas like education, disaster relief, drought & famine aid, as well as the new Let Girls Learn designation. Running water to a school that never had access to water, and building a number of bathrooms, water fountains, and handwashing stations, for instance, is a water, sanitation, education and women's empowerment project all in one!

Typical projects will be community water systems, wells, pumps, tanks, small reservoirs, rainwater catchment systems, irrigation systems, water purification installations, latrines, and handwashing stations.

All projects will require the community participation of labor, materials, and/or money, to the extent that the community is able to contribute, often as much as 25% of the project cost.

The local water committee, in some cases, may decide to impose small fees on the villagers for use of newly-created water facilities, such that there will be funds available for maintenance, repair, and replacement when the need arises. These fees will always be affordable for all residents,

Water Charity is prepared to return to a community and aid the residents in repairs or expansion when local resources do not permit such work without assistance.

All projects have community training and education components to teach villagers the technologies employed, the use, maintenance, and repairs of the improvements, as well as any hygiene and public health concepts that might aid them.

Mass transit in Senegal Where the skilled labor needed to complete a job doesn't exist, Water Charity is pleased to engage in job training, whereby technical skills are imparted to locals looking for work, and thus enabling them to form small businesses which allows them to utilize the acquired knowledge, and apply it in other communities. This creates a rather profound "ripple effect" to our projects, whereby the new (or even pre-existing) businesses of the skilled laborers can proliferate the technology in nearby areas while creating employment and economic incentives.

Where feasible, tools are left behind after completion of our projects to serve in this effort.  In this way, many Water Charity projects have spawned dozens of other similar projects in a given area, without us having to be directly involved... and while boosting the local economy to boot.

Sustainability is ensured by serving PCVs and their replacements, who visit the project sites at intervals after completion and facilitate needed repairs and improvements.  Local water committees and skilled laborer businesses also contribute to the overall sustainability. Water Charity projects have an outstanding success rate because of these elements, and considerably greater longevity than comparable projects, while being an order of magnitude cheaper to implement in most cases.

Implementation
At the bottom of the page is a listing of projects that have recently been started under the program. The list will be updated as new projects come on line. A little triangle next to the project name indicates that it is already completed and a conclusion page has been posted and nested underneath the original project page.

Summary
The program offers unmatched cost effectiveness to implement vital projects using appropriate technology. It benefits from our unique model and past knowledge of and experience in the chosen countries. It eliminates the expenses of travel, in-country headquarters, and administrative costs, and allows for most project dollars to be directed to materials and skilled labor.

Donation to this program is a sure-fire way to aid and assist a large number of people with great water and sanitation needs, speedily and efficiently.

This program is targeted for funding of $2,200,000 over 3 years, rolled out as follows:

  • $440,000 for Year 1
  • $660,000 for Year 2
  • $1,100,000 for Year 3
 


Women carrying water, Senegal

Filters for Life Program – Worldwide

Filters for Life Program – Worldwide

The Filters For Life Program is Water Charity's flagship, worldwide endeavor to provide much-needed water filters for people around the world. With developments in filter technology over the last five years or so, we can now provide needy communities with long-lasting, effective water filters that can provide as much as 650 gallons of water a day each.  Point One bucket kitThese carbon nanotube filters are guaranteed to last for 1,000,000 gallons (and often last far longer with a modicum of maintenance)... and this technology allows for this at a very reasonable price.

The hollow membrane style (dialysis) filters offer a substantial improvement over the older biosand, ceramic, and activated charcoal filters we had been using.

They are small, light, and easily transported. Whereas, biosand filters are large and heavy.  The making of the various grades of sand, and the transportation of this heavy material accounted for a huge portion of the cost of a biosand installation.

The Sawyer filters we use are very durable and difficult to break... whereas the ceramic filters we had favored previously are notoriously prone to cracking, and thus eliminating their ability to protect people from pathogens.  They also had far slower flow rates, and could therefore serve less people per installation.

We are very excited about this program, which will include individual projects all over the world. The need for these filters is great, and there is almost no limit to the number of  filters we can distribute as the funds become available.

Taiphoon Haiyan Distribution
Keep in mind:

  • 80% of all disease is water-borne
  • 50% of all hospital beds worldwide are occupied by someone suffering from a water-related illness
  • Lack of clean drinking water kills more people globally than all forms of violence combined... including war.

There is no need for these statistics to be true anymore. We have all the tools we need to completely eliminate this suffering and waste of life. The predominant victims of this terrible situation are young children. Simple diarrhea is a leading killer of children under 5.  When it is so simple to prevent waterborne illness, there is no excuse for this. These kids deserve a chance.

As an addition to our current roster of successful programs in water and sanitation, which have included well drilling, rainwater catchment, toilet and hand-washing station construction, emergency relief, reforestation efforts and more--including a good number of filter projects--as well as our acclaimed Appropriate Projects initiative, this new program will be an umbrella for our worldwide push to get filters into the hands of those people who desperately need them. It includes most of the relevant projects, large and small... thus enabling people to donate to the overall effort.

For various reasons, some filter projects are tied into other initiatives or programs... generally where the filter installations are just a part of a larger effort.  Many rainwater catchment projects, for instance, have a filter component, but being that only a few filters are involved, and the larger part of the project are the gutters, the tanks and the distribution system... such projects don't technically fall under this program.

Water Drop WorldThe projects in this program, are larger distributions, and are upwardly scalable. As such, the more money we can raise, the more filters we can give out. Instead of creating and packaging the individual filter delivery projects one by one and funding them separately, it makes sense to raise as much money as possible and keep the filters flowing. In this way, we can also get larger grants from foundations and concerned organizations. We have hopes that, in time, this program can grow into one of the largest thing we have done.

For those interested in the filter technology we are presently using, please feel free to go to the Sawyer International website and peruse the relevant materials. We use primarily their Point One filter, but for hospitals, clinics and other sites we will also be making the Point Zero Two purifier available.  Both filters are engineered to have no holes large enough for even the smallest microbes to pass through. Point One = .1 micron engineering and Point Zero Two = .02 microns [note: The Point One is more than capable of handling the amoebas, cysts, bacteria, and protozoa that normally render water un-potable.]

This is an exciting program, and we hope you will see the need for it and join in. Water Charity is currently active in over 65 countries around the world. As the money comes in we will take the Filters For Life program into all of them and beyond.

If there are certain regions where you are especially interested in helping, it will be possible to donate specifically for those countries or areas. Just send us a message with your donation. However, we are hoping people will recognize that a general donation to the program itself will be the most effective way to get the maximum number of filters out in the shortest amount of time.

We are water... literally. The human body is about 70% water by mass, and a typical human cell is composed of 98.73% water molecules. Think about it.

CLICK HERE to see all the projects, or the links for the various individual projects in this program at the bottom of the page.

 

Sierra Madre Water Program - Mexico & Guatemala

Sierra Madre Water Program - Mexico & Guatemala

NPCA - WC LogosWATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS, together with The SEXTO SOL Center for Community Action, announce the implementation of the SIERRA MADRE WATER PROGRAM - MEXICO & GUATEMALA.

The program is designed to provide safe water, effective sanitation, and public health services for 300 villages in the Sierra Madre Region of Chiapas, Mexico, through an unprecedented collaboration of the three organizations.

With a target budget of $2,100,000, the program will be implemented in 15 phases, each addressing the needs of 20 villages. Phase 1 is budgeted for $140,000 in improvements.  Phase 1 is already well underway!

Sierra Madre Water Program, Phase 1 - Mexico

The program focuses on supplying drinking water using the appropriate technology for each village, with the objective of also providing water for sanitation, hygiene, and agriculture. Benefits will be sought in reducing morbidity and mortality, improving quality of life, improving food security, and providing economic opportunities for direct participants and the community at large.

The projects to be implemented will be those requested by the individual villages to address their specific needs. A complete needs survey for the entire program is well underway, while specific project planning for Phase 1 villages is nearing completion, and preliminary planning continues for each successive village.

The design of each project will incorporate measures to maintain the improvements after completion, thus ensuring sustainability far into the future.

Sexto Sol will provide on-the-ground management of the program and the individual projects. The National Peace Corps Association and Water Charity will raise money for and publicize the program, and recruit Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) to assist with project implementation. Water Charity will participate in the planning, execution, and evaluation of the program, train the RPCVs to perform their tasks, and provide for their deployment.

Edward James OlmosValued Support and Endorsement
We are honored to receive the recognition, support, and endorsement for this program from Edward James Olmos, renowned director and actor of stage and screen.

Mr. Olmos was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role for the film Stand and Deliver, the only Hispanic-American to be nominated in that category. His career encompasses another 22 wins and 24 nominations. Among his great achievements, he is also recognized for his roles in Battlestar Galactica, Miami Vice, Selena, El Pachuco, and both the stage and film versions of Zoot Suit.

Mr. Olmos is known for his social activism, especially involving the U.S. Hispanic community. He narrated a portion of the movie Zapatista, showing the plight of the campesinos in Chiapas in the mid-90s. 

I am pleased to endorse the work being done by the Sexto Sol Center in partnership with Water Charity to bring potable water and sanitation to impoverished communities in Chiapas. I have stood behind the Sexto Sol Center since they began their service in Chiapas 17 years ago. I know what they are capable of doing. Water Charity is an experienced leader with an impressive track record of bringing clean water and sanitation to under-served communities in 63 countries worldwide. This is the ideal team to efficiently make these much needed improvements in the quality of life for people in the remote mountain villages. I encourage you to support this effort by Water Charity and the Sexto Sol Center. Your support will help them improve the lives of thousands of people. The world will be better for it.
Edward James Olmos

Program Location
This program is being implemented in the Municipalities of Motozintla, Siltepec, El Porvenir, La Grandeza, and other locations in Chiapas, Mexico as well as culturally and linguistically contiguous communities across the border in Guatemala.

300 villages have been chosen for consideration at this time.  As the program winds through its various phases, a specific list of target communities will be compiled.  To see a complete list of the municipalities in Chiapas, CLICK HERE.

Sierra Madre Water Program, Phase 1 - Mexico

Needs
The Sierra Madre mountain range rises from the coastal plain, reaching over 10,000 feet in elevation. This important watershed has 98 rivers that flow to the mangrove forests on the Pacific Coast and feed the Grijalva River on the inland side. The land is very rugged with steep slopes and countless sharp ridges that fall away on all sides into canyons.

The watershed was severely clear cut about 20 years ago with no reforestation implemented. This left the region extremely vulnerable to natural disasters that have causeed great hardship for the people living there.  Most notabe were the disasters of 1998 and Hurricane Stan in 2005, both of which devastated the region with material losses that are still felt to this day.

Seasonal flooding causes damage regularly to deforested slopes resulting in major landslides that have become a "normal" occurrence. An active fault and volcanic rumbling create a lot of seismic activity which in July, 2014, resulted in damage to thousands of adobe homes in the poorest areas.

The region is dotted communities of people engaged in agriculture (campesinos). They depend on raising subsistence crops and small scale farming of potatoes, wheat, or coffee to sell. It is considered to be the most impoverished region in Mexico. When then-President Fox visited the region he made the sad announcement that El Porviner town was the poorest town in the country.

Sierra Madre Water Program, Phase 1 - MexicoThe people are Maya from three language groups, Mam in the high country, C'atok or Mocho in Motozintla and Tusantan, and Kaqchikel in the Mazapa area. The majority of the people are Mam.

In the 1960s a government program attempted to force acculturation on the population through a form of institutionalized racism that prohibited the people from speaking their language. Elders still speak Mam, but the middle aged population for the most part does not. Children and youth, therefore, have some confusion about their identity. This history has caused great pain and it leads people to not admit to being indigenous. Very few people wear the traditional clothing.

Malnutrition is the norm and is most evident in the children who do not reach normal height and often have trouble paying attention in school. Drought, loss of cultivated land to landslides, and the failure of the coffee crop all have contributed to the furthering of poverty for households in recent years.

When a family member falls ill, the expense can be devastating, sometimes forcing a family to have to sell their land. People die from curable diseases and illnesses that have been eradicated in most of the world are still a problem.

Adult illiteracy is common, with many people over 40 years of age having only attended 2 years of formal schooling. This has improved for children now with better access to rural schools, but typically the teachers are students who have not completed their teacher training.

The Sierra Madre is a mineral-rich region with foreign mining companies eager to strip mine a variety of minerals on the lands inhabited by the people. The tension caused by this looming future is worrisome for the people.

The Sierra Madre region has not received development assistance from the government or from international organizations. The Sexto Sol Center is the only international NGO with a long-term presence in the Sierra Madre.

Sierra Madre Water Program, Phase 1 - MexicoTypical Projects
This program is working toward ensuring water for all household uses, including for drinking, cooking, sanitation, and hygiene in 300 communities. It also provides for irrigation of the family and community gardens.

Typically, a community has an old water system that was built years ago, but many households do not receive water, and the system does not meet the needs of the population. The appropriate technology is to capture the water at the source and build a holding tank, and then install a water line over rough terrain to the village.

Typical projects include wells, pumps, rainwater catchment systems, aqueducts, water storage systems, water purification solutions, erosion control, reforestation, flooding prevention, and irrigation systems.

An effort will be made to encompass all of the water, sanitation, and public health needs of each village in a village-designated project. Within the project, there may be several stand-alone sub-projects, say, for example, at a school and at a clinic.

Hygiene and sanitation are inextricably tied to the goal of achieving a safe water source. Handwashing stations are crucial to allow for effective hygienic practices, especially in the schools clinics, and community centers. Bathrooms, erosion prevention, and flooding prevention and remediation are necessary to protect the water sources.

Sierra Madre Water Program, Phase 1 - MexicoProjects Underway & Completed
The program was begun with overall planning ascertaining village project needs and moving forward with project-by-project implementation. The first project was implemented in December, 2014, and we have already completed 8 village wide projects!.

This list will be updated with links to the project pages as new projects begin, and there is another list at the end of this posting:

Cipresal Water System Project - Mexico

Xelajú Chico, Hector Paniaguas y Barrio Reforma, Water System Relief Project - Mexico

El Progreso Water System Project – Mexico

Niquivil Water System Project - Mexico

Miguel Aleman Water Project - Mexico

Esperanza Water System Project - Guatemala

Santo Domingo La Cascada Water System Project - Mexico

Cipresal La Cascada Water System Project - Mexico

Agua Prieta Water System Project - Mexico

Checute Water System Project - Mexico

CABIOCHI Water Project - Mexico

Loma Linda Water Project - Mexico

Program Management
The program is being be managed by Tamara Brennan, Ph.D., Executive Director of The Sexto Sol Center for Community Action, which serves impoverished communities in the Sierra Madre region of Chiapas, Mexico, near the border with Guatemala.

Sexto Sol previously completed the School Flooding Remediation Project – Mexico in 2010 in partnership with Water Charity.

The Incorporation of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers
The program introduces the groundbreaking concept of utilizing Returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) in the direct implementation of the projects in each of the communities. RPCVs are people who have returned home after having completed 3 months of training plus 2 years of service in a developing country. They have considerable experience in the community development process and the management of water and sanitation projects.

Water Charity has previously worked with dozens of RPCVs in the implementation of projects. These are dedicated people who have decided to remain in the country after their PC service, people who went to work for local NGOs, which they bring into the process, or people who return to the country after they have been home for a while. We have also collaborated with RPCVs who have Sierra Madre Water Program, Phase 1 - Mexicogone on to serve in the Peace Corps Response Program, a short-duration commitment to a specific project assigned by the Peace Corps.

This program is completely unique in scope: It will be the first time that a significant number of RPCVs are being deployed on a large-scale program as volunteers, funded by donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations, to serve under the direction of a local nonprofit.

The RPCVs will be recruited by the NPCA, trained by WC, and deployed to Motozintla for a set, but renewable, term.

The recruitment process will utilize the structure of 139 NPCA Member Groups, which are determined by country of service and hometown. 

It is anticipated that several RPCVs will come from the Returned Peace Corps Volunteers of Los Angeles (RPCVLA), one of the Member Groups with close ties to Water Charity.

The RPCVs will be fluent in Spanish and have substantial knowledge of and experience in community development. They will “hit the ground running”.

The RPCVs will train the villagers and work side-by-side with them in the detailed planning, implementation, and evaluation of the projects.

The RPCVs will volunteer their time. WC will provide funds for their travel. Sexto Sol will provide management, lodging and in-country transportation.

Benefits 

 

Entire Program

Phase 1 of 15

Budget

$2,100,000

$140,000

Population

70,000

4,666

Number of Villages

300

20

Number of Projects

900

60

Cost/Project

$2,333

$2,333

Cost/Person (3 projects)

$10

$10

This program will benefit about 70,000 people in 300 communities by providing each of them with a reliable supply of safe water and access to effective sanitation, thereby improving the health and wellbeing of all who reside in the region. Phase 1 will help 20 of those communities, and will serve as a proven model for the rest of the program, developing a skilled labor pool and a reliable and economical supply chain for materials and equipment.

Program Funding
Donors may contribute to the whole Phase1 effort, to be allocated where needed for projects by clicking on the DONATE button below, or by donating on the individual project pages, as new projects are started under the program.

Corporate and foundation donations are welcome and encouraged, and amounts and attribution rights will be negotiated.

Individual donations of any amount are encouraged. Every donation of $100 or more toward the overall program will be recognized on this page.

If you wish to donate “in honor of” or “in recognition of” or “in appreciation of”, please include the wording on your donation form or in an email directed to mail (at) watercharity.org If you wish for your donation to be anonymous, just let us know.

Fundraising Target

$140,000 for Phase 1 ($2,100,000 for the 15-phase program)

You can make a difference by helping us improve the lives of thousands of families in the Sierra Madre with your tax-deductible contribution. 

*****

Water Charity
Water Charity is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, established in 2008 and headquartered in California, that does water, sanitation, and public health projects around the world. Since that time, 1,800 projects in 65 countries have been implemented.

National Peace Corps Association
The National Peace Corps Association was founded in 1979 and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. with a mission to championing lifelong commitment to Peace Corps values. The goals of NPCA are to help the Peace Corps be the best that it can be and help returned Peace Corps Volunteers (RPCVs) and RPCV groups thrive.

The Sexto Sol Center for Community Action
The Sexto Sol Center serves impoverished communities in Chiapas and Guatemala, where a change of vision and specific technical assistance can help people create a better life.  Since 1997 Sexto Sol has assisted people to create success with cooperative businesses, grow health-giving food, improve neglected schools for their children, regain cultural pride, protect the watershed, create eco-villages and heal from the trauma of disaster and conflict.

Los Laureles Water Project - Mexico

Los Laureles Water Project - Mexico

NPCA and WC logos

This project is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION.

Los Laureles Water Project - MexicoLocation
Barrio Los Laureles, Chiapas, Mexico

Community Description
Barrio Los Laureles neighborhood is located on the far southwestern edge of the Motozintla river valley. Even though the pipe that brings water from the high country to tens of thousands of homes in the city passes through their streets, they have been told by the water authority that it is impossible for them to have access to it. For reasons no one quite knows, Los Laureles does not appear in the city register. This is why years of trying to get help has led to excuses by the authorities, who claim that their hands are tied.

Los Laureles is home to 56 households with 293 inhabitants. Thirteen homes are headed by women, some with small children and others comprised of elderly widows who live alone with no support from family members who have moved away. The standard of living is poor, with men working in Motozintla as laborers in construction or other itinerant work. Some women wash clothes by hand for families in the city, a job that pays very little.

Located about a half-hour walk from the center of town, fare on local transportation is a major expense when children go to high school. As a result of their poverty, they do not have the means to purchase the materials they need to replace the old water line and extend it higher up the canyon to a better source of water.

Los Laureles Water Project - MexicoThe neighbors are well organized and have a community gathering place where they hold meetings. They report enjoying good relations among the families, which is apparent when visiting them. The water committee has a designated person called the "fontonero" whose job it is to maintain the water system and make sure that each family is properly conserving the water.

Problem Addressed
The people live next to the river where other water associations have large hoses that take what little water there is in the dry months to other neighborhoods in other parts of the valley. They have survived by obtaining water with their own hose that was originally put in place decades ago. But now the hose is so deteriorated that it no longer serves them. Their hose crosses over the river, and up to now, they have simply hung it over an old tree and let it hang the 150 or so meters to where it reaches the other side.

During the rainy season, given the extreme weather that is more common in recent years, flashfloods have ripped the hose away many times requiring them to have to replace the expensive hose. The men have noticed that the tree is decaying and will not withstand the weight much longer.

A major deforestation project 30 years ago damaged the watershed causing what had always been perennial springs to dry up. With the rainy season just over, the families that form Los Laureles water association are worried about how they will survive the coming dry months when only a trickle of water runs down the wide river bed of hot, dry rocks and sand.

It's not easy keeping a home and family without water especially when the wind whips up the dry riverbed and deposits a fine dusting of sand on everything. When the rains stop, you cannot raise tomatoes or chilies in your patio or plant fruit bearing bushes to add nutrition to your children's diet. The chayote plants that provide so much to eat in the summer dry up in a matter of days when the rain stops coming.

Los Laureles Water Project - MexicoProject Description
This project is to build a water system for the community.

The line will be extended to total of 3 kilometers up the canyon, and the old hose will be replaced. This will allow them to reach a better place in the river where they can dig a deep pool from which they will take up the water.

They have determined that the best way to secure the hose as it crosses the wide riverbed will be to build 4 strong concrete and rebar columns that will sustain the weight of the hose when full of water while also withstanding floods during the rainy season. They will reinforce it with a strong steel cable that will support the hose as it hangs between the columns.

A more effective "pichancha", the filter that keep debris from clogging the hose that is placed in the river at the source, will be built. Typically, people use an old plastic bottle that they poke holes into with a hot nail and then strap to the end of the hose. Sexto Sol's design for a more effective filter is made of PVC parts that are available locally. It has been used successfully in other water projects saving communities much labor from having to unclog the line.

The community has many years of experience organizing work crews and working cooperatively for the benefit of the neighborhood. The people say they are ready to work together to get this work completed quickly.

Los Laureles Water Project - MexicoProject Impact
293 people will benefit from the project. There is also an elementary school in the community.

Project Director
The project will be administered by Tamara Brennan, Ph.D. of The Sexto Sol Center for Community Action, an award-winning non-profit that has had a permanent presence in the region since 1997.

This project is the 13th water system project in the ongoing Sierra Madre Water Program, a comprehensive effort to improve water access in the underserved and impoverished Sierra Madre de Chiapas region of Mexico, spanning the border with Guatemala.

Monitoring and Maintenance
The water committee will monitor the functioning of the system, and perform maintenance and repairs. Sexto Sol will periodically check to ascertain that the system is working properly.

Fundraising Target
$6,900

Funds raised in excess of the project amount will be allocated to other projects in the country.

Donations Collected to Date
$0

ADOPT THIS PROJECT BY CONTRIBUTING THE DOLLAR AMOUNT OF PROJECT

Donations of any amount will be appreciated. The full amount will give you "naming rights", if that is something you would like.

Dollar Amount Needed
$6,900

Los Laureles Water Project - MexicoLos Laureles Water Project - Mexico

Los Laureles Water Project - Mexico

Los Laureles Water Project - MexicoLos Laureles Water Project - Mexico

 

Sam Elementary School Bathroom Projects - Gabon

Sam Elementary School Bathroom Projects - Gabon

NPCA and WC logos

This project is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION.

John Dickson - Encore de la Paix - Gabon -  Sam Elementary BathroomsLocation
Sam, Gabon

Community Description
The village of Sam is located in the province of Woleu-Ntem in the northeast of Gabon. With roughly 500 inhabitants, the village lies at a crossroads heading to three larger towns, the closest of which is over an hour away on a poorly maintained dirt roads. Another road at the intersection, now overgrown, used to lead to Equatorial Guinea which is only 10 kilometers away. Sam lies in the full tropical rain forest with two rainy seasons from September – December and from February to May.

There are two elementary schools in the village, one in the center and another on the outskirts that serves a neighboring village as well. The small town center has 3-4 shops that sell sundries, 3 bars, a police station and a soccer field. Sam is the seat for a sous-prefeture (county district) and has a cell phone tower with a generator that runs in the evenings. There is a stream running through the village and two wells where people walk to get their water every day.

Peace Corps volunteers originally built the school on the outskirts of town in 1965, and eight Encore de la Paix (Encore) volunteers returned in 2016 to rehabilitate the Sam school on the outskirts of the village, working side-by-side with villagers to put on a new roof, add new windows and refurbish the three vacant teachers’ houses. There were three successive Peace Corps volunteers in the 1990s who completed fisheries projects, but the fish ponds are now neglected.

Sam Elementary School Bathroom Projects - GabonProblem Addressed
Water and sanitation remain a challenge for community residents in Sam. They spend an inordinate amount of time and effort procuring adequate clean water, and waterborne pathogens are endemic.

The two schools are in dire need of sanitary facilities. What the students and teachers use now are shockingly inadequate and unhygienic, and have no privacy. Teachers are reluctant to serve in villages where these health conditions exist. Girls drop out of school because of inadequate facilities, and parents look to send their children to larger towns because, despite the breaking up of the family, they have more reliable educational opportunities.

Few families have outdoor latrines for their houses. Most simply make use of clearings in the forest or tall grass. In the center of town, where there are stores and bars and a soccer field adjacent to one of the schools, there likewise are no common use facilities. This situation leads to exposed areas for human waste, with runoff reaching the streams where people wash and collect water for drinking and cooking.

In the six weeks Encore worked in Sam in 2016, they were made aware of illness from unsanitary conditions among the workers and their families. They took workers and their families to the nearby hospital for treatment of malaria and other diseases.

Sam Elementary School Bathroom Projects - GabonProject Description
This project is to construct two latrine blocks (collocated girls and boys) in the village of Sam.

The first, with two stalls will be adjacent to the larger primary school Encore repaired on the outskirts of Sam, a facility that also draws students from an adjacent village.

The second latrine will be located at a smaller school in the center of Sam, near the crossroads where market, restaurants, bars and a soccer field are located. This latrine will have three stalls as it will be accessible to the broad community.

Each facility is designed as a VIP (Ventilation Improved Pit) latrine, with separate stalls and entries. The design will incorporate a rain catchment system to provide water for a hand-cleaning station during the rainy season.

Based on previous experience in Gabon, Encore developed a design this year that will use local materials and labor to construct the two latrine blocks.

For each latrine, a pit two meters deep will be dug, taking advantage of the hard clay soil for pit walls. The two-stall latrine will be 2 x 2 meters, and the three stall latrine will measure 2 x 3.5 meters. A reinforced cement slab will be used to seal each pit that will have drop holes and foot rests designed to minimize fecal contamination. A second hole in the rear of the slab will house the VIP ventilation pipe that provides fly and odor control.

Shelter walls will be built on top of the slab using locally produced plank and beams, some of which remain from their 2016 school renovation project. A simple sloped aluminum roof will cap the shelter, with gutters attached to capture rainwater for the handwashing station. From the size of the pit, the materials of construction, and the number of students using the latrines, the lifetime is expected to exceed 20 years.

Encore volunteers from the U.S. will work side by side with the villagers.

In 2016, with the help of Water Charity, Encore returned to construct latrines in a village near Sam where they had the year prior renovated another school built by Peace Corps in 1965. As they discovered, returning to the same village with follow-on activities allows them to reconnect with members of the community who had become project partners and friends. It also enables them to check on progress and provide sustained support. For example, they found that the school and teacher house renovation efforts had resulted in an additional teacher assigned to the school and higher student attendance.

In March 2018, a group of 6-8 volunteers from Encore will return to Gabon to complete three projects. The first is to build the latrines, the second is to undertake a mosquito net distribution, and the third is to paint a world map mural on the wall of one school. The three of these combine their goals to engage the communities where they have already worked, to attend to issues of importance as they themselves have identified (education and health), and the third is to continue in tangible ways to give back to the country and its people who changed their lives when they were Peace Corps volunteers.

Encore is working closely with a returned volunteer who lives in the capitol and has extensive contacts in this region. He will be procuring the materials ahead of their arrival and contracting with the skilled labor. He is also the on-the-ground liaison with the village association, called Sam D’Abord (Sam First,) a civic association that consists of people living in Sam as well as a Sam diaspora that has moved away for work reasons. This group is instrumental in identifying local workers and volunteers as well as home hospitality for the Encore volunteers who pay their own way over to Gabon. They have been active in promoting a number of charitable projects for their community.

In addition, the principal Gabonese contact is a retired regional director for the Ministry of Health; he grew up in a nearby village where he owns a home and makes regular visits between the capital and Sam. In this way, he provides feedback on the projects we have completed and, at the same time, motivates and encourages the village residents to maintain and provide upkeep for the projects.

Project Impact
500 people will benefit from the project.

Returned Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
John Dickson, RPCV Gabon ('76-'79). John previously completed the Doumandzou Primary School Bathroom Project - Gabon

Monitoring and Maintenance
The schools will be responsible for maintaining the facilities, ensuring that there is sufficient water, and making repairs as necessary.

The school principals will coordinate with the local health staff to evaluate the impact of the facility on the health and attendance of the students.

Let Girls Learn
This project overlaps with the goals of the former Peace Corps Let Girls Learn program. Importantly, providing female students with a clean, comfortable place to meet their sanitary needs has proven effective in helping them to stay in school.

School ages vary widely in Gabon, as students enter formal education late, interrupt their schooling for a year or two before returning. This results in a wide range of students enrolled at these primary schools. There are girls who have already reached puberty sitting alongside others who are about to enter puberty and others who are far from that stage. The older girls who have lost school years face several obstacles in continuing. Not only are they embarrassed to be sitting side by side the younger girls, but the lack of facilities causes them to lose even more school.

However, new sanitary facilities can make it easier on them to continue, and they can even be enlisted to discuss sanitary practices with the younger girls. The privacy that female students currently lack, and the sanitary wash station will enable the girls who sometimes have to walk up to 2 kilometers to reach school to stay at school all day long.

Project Funding
This project has been funded by an anonymous donor. If you wish to contribute to future projects such as this in Gabon, please use the Donate button below.

 

Household Latrine Project - Senegal

Household Latrine Project - Senegal

NPCA and WC logos

This project is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION.

Household Latrine Project - SenegalLocation
This project summary has been redacted for security reasons to omit the specific project location.

Dxxxxxxxx, Thies Region, Senegal

Community Description
The community is located in the Thies region in Western Senegal. The population is roughly equal parts Pulaar-speaking individuals and Wolof speakers. It has been able to secure vital resources such as running water from a spigot, a paved national road, numerous fields for farming, and 5 shops in which people are able to buy basic necessities. Locally grown vegetables are the village's chief income source. The population cultivates several fields of carrots, cabbage, turnips, peanuts, mangoes, onions, bitter tomatoes, and peppers.

The community also has a primary school to educate their young children--who account for about half of the population. The entire population is led by three chiefs who intervene when issues arise, hold meetings to make the village aware of new projects or problems arising within the village, and represent the village at various events. The village is continually seeking ways to improve the quality of life for its citizens through community-led initiatives such as this latrine project.

Problem Addressed
There are a total of five compounds in the village which do not have access to a proper latrine. Members of these households resort to open defecation, which leads to sanitation-related diseases such as diarrhea, pneumonia, and cholera.

A baseline survey to investigate the health practices in the community revealed that at least 25% of children under 5 had diarrhea in any two-week span. Similarly, 53% of respondents said that children were very likely to have pneumonia. These illnesses can be easily avoided with access to proper latrines and adoption of proper hygiene practices. Seven percent of respondents stated that they believed that open defecation did not have any negative consequences.

Project Description
This project is to build 5 latrines in the remaining 5 compounds in the community that currently do not have access to proper sanitation.

The work will progress as follows:

1. The latrine committee and the PCV will call on participating households to begin digging the pits.

2. The head mason and the PCV will return to the vendors with whom prices were negotiated and buy all the materials and transport them to the village.

3. The sand supplier will bring the necessary sand.

4. The brickmakers will begin making bricks to line the pits.

5. Once the bricks are dry, the mason will continue with the rest of construction and latrine installation.

a. Each latrine requires digging two pits, each with a dimension of 2x2x2 meters, lined with cement bricks, and covered with a slab. This design ensures durability so that the latrines will be able to serve a typical household over a long period of time.

b. These latrines will not require a superstructure or any kind of toilet seat. Instead, each slab will have a small hole on the top that can be covered when not in use.

6. Every day, member of the latrine committee will visit each work site to oversee construction.

7. Once finished, the local nurse will conduct follow-up home visits to ensure people are practicing proper handwashing techniques and that handwashing stations are available in each household. Solar lanterns will be distributed to participants.

Household Latrine Project - SenegalProject Impact
Fifty people will benefit from the project.

Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
K. Winn

Monitoring and Maintenance
A latrine committee has been created to help supervise the project. The committee consists of four community leaders who will check up on laborers’ daily progress. They will also ensure that participating households are held accountable, contributing necessary funds and attending behavior change trainings.

One of these trainings will cover latrine maintenance, ensuring that households will extend a latrine’s lifespan to its fullest potential and improve community health.

Counterparts will also conduct monthly home visits to guarantee that all household members are using and maintaining the latrine and as well as practicing proper hand washing.

Fundraising Target
$700

Funds raised in excess of the project amount will be allocated to other projects in the country.

Donations Collected to Date
$0

ADOPT THIS PROJECT BY CONTRIBUTING THE DOLLAR AMOUNT OF PROJECT

Donations of any amount will be appreciated. The full amount will give you "naming rights", if that is something you would like.

Dollar Amount Needed
$700

Household Latrine Project - SenegalHousehold Latrine Project - Senegal

Middle School Latrine Project - Senegal

Middle School Latrine Project - Senegal

NPCA and WC logos

This project is made possible through the partnership of WATER CHARITY and the NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION.

Middle School Latrine Project - SenegalLocation
This project summary has been redacted for security reasons to omit the specific project location.

Txxxxxxx, Department of Linguere, Region of Louga, Senegal

Community Description
Txxxxxxx is a small, rural village located 35 kilometers southwest of the departmental capital, Linguere, in the region of Louga. Of its 1,500 inhabitants, 90% are Pulaar and 10% are Wolof. Though the village is predominantly Pulaar, the Wolof are the region's majority ethnic group.

Txxxxxxx is the center of the rural commune, boasting a Health Post as well as one of only two middle schools in the commune. Students whose homes are distant from the village center walk and drive horse- or donkey-drawn carts several kilometers to attend school in the village each morning.

Individuals within the community of Txxxxxxx typically generate income through animal husbandry, herding cows, sheep, and goats.

Problem Addressed
The middle school has been borrowing a private space from the mayor's office since its inception. This year, the mayor is evicting the middle school so that the preschool, which has been located in the mayor’s office in the meantime, may utilize the space.

Two new classrooms have been constructed, but at a distance quite far (over 1 kilometer) from the village center, posing a challenge to all students but especially those that live outside of the village proper and commute many kilometers each day.

There is no electricity, running water, or latrine access at this new site. Students therefore have reported that they wait until school gets out to relieve themselves. This relocation to a more remote schoolhouse puts attendance of all students, but especially female students, at risk.

Maintaining proper menstrual health and hygiene is not possible without access to running water, toilets, or privacy. This population of rural, Pulaar girls is already vulnerable to social and cultural forces that keep female students from participating as fully in academic life.

Both school faculty members as well as parents of students have shown concern about the lack of amenities at the distant new school location and the potentially harmful effects on students’ ability to learn.

Middle School Latrine Project - SenegalProject Description
This project is to build three toilets at the new school: one for the teachers, one for the girls, and one for the boys.

The mayor's office has financed a water line out to the school in order to make toilet construction possible, demonstrating the community’s commitment to the project, financial and otherwise. The new pipeline is complete and functional.

For this project, materials will first need to be purchased in Dahra Djoloff, the road town 35km northwest, and transported by pick-up truck to Txxxxxxx.

First, the brick maker will blend sand, cement, and gravel to form bricks. The laborer will then dig two 2m x 2m pits (the students’ blocs will share a pit) for the masons to line the pits with the finished bricks along with supporting rebar.

PVC piping will provide an evacuation route from the toilet to the pit as well as ventilation by way of T connector. Stalls will be fashioned with remaining bricks and doors, including the installation of a water spigot (robinet) by the community in each stall, a layer of cement will then be placed above the latrine pit, along with the placement of the Turkish toilets, connecting all relevant piping.

Hand washing stations will also be built by a local metalworker out of rebar and placed strategically so as to encourage proper hand washing behavior.

Additionally, materials necessary for maintenance and longevity of the toilets, such as buckets for flushing waste, plastic kettles for personal hygiene, and cleaning supplies like scrubbing brushes, will be purchased.

Construction of the toilets themselves will begin in December 2017, once the area is solidly out of the rainy season. The initial phase of the construction aspect has already been completed, as the school now has water access.

Messaging on topics such as water, sanitation, hygiene, and toilet maintenance will be delivered.

Middle School Latrine Project - SenegalThe PCV will continue her work on the topic of menstrual health and hygiene with female students both attending the elementary school in the village as well as the middle school. More students progress from the village’s elementary school to its middle school each year, so outreach to future generations of middle schoolers is also important.

Project Impact
105 students and staff will benefit from the project.

Peace Corps Volunteer Directing Project
A. Johnston

Monitoring and Maintenance
The school will monitor the use of the improvements and maintain the facilities.

Attendance is assiduously kept by the teachers at the middle school, so trends in female attendance may be isolated from before and after project implementation.

Furthermore, absences of the entire student body due to illness may also be tracked in relation to the WASH component of the project. With better WASH practice adherence, all students may enjoy fewer days out of school due to illness.

Let Girls Learn
This project accrues to the benefit of girls, in that it allows them to remain in school, by providing access to resources and privacy so that they may hygienically and discreetly manage their periods while attending classes.

Fundraising Target
$1,600

Funds raised in excess of the project amount will be allocated to other projects in the country.

Donations Collected to Date
$0

ADOPT THIS PROJECT BY CONTRIBUTING THE DOLLAR AMOUNT OF PROJECT

Donations of any amount will be appreciated. The full amount will give you "naming rights", if that is something you would like.

Dollar Amount Needed
$1,600

Middle School Latrine Project - SenegalMiddle School Latrine Project - Senegal

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