Filter Project for Garbage Dump Workers – Guatemala

In December, Water Charity began a program to provide water filters to the families that work in the Guatemala City Garbage Dump. We will be working in conjunction with Safe Passage (Camino Seguro), a nonprofit organization that does extensive work with this population.

Safe Passage works with the poorest at-risk children of families working in the garbage dump. They provide a comprehensive and integrated program that fosters hope, good health, educational achievement, self-sufficiency, self esteem and confidence.

With financial support from Safe Passage, each child is able to attend a local public school for the half-day term and then come to their center for educational reinforcement, caring and supervision.

The environment in and around the dump is toxic, with methane gases, rotting food, insects and vermin, and unsafe water. Entire families, including the children, are forced to work in these conditions in order to survive.

Guatemala City Garbage Dump 2As part of the program Safe Passage provides literacy training and health education to the mothers of the children enrolled in the program. It is through this Mothers Group that we are implementing the filter project.

Unclean water worldwide is responsible for illness and death due to intestinal illness. In Guatemala, it is one of the leading causes of death, with disproportionate impact on infants and children.

Although there exists a water supply in the neighborhood surrounding the dump, it is contaminated with metals, bacteria, viruses and parasites. This population provides an outstanding application for one of the common filter technologies, as no other low cost alternatives for safe potable water are available. Obvious choices are those using biosand and ceramic technologies.

Biosand filters have been proven worldwide to remove contaminants in water through a combination of biological and mechanical processes. In essence, the filters make unsafe water safe for families to use for drinking and household use.

Ceramic filters have proven equally effective, and the choice must be made on other factors which include, for example, effectiveness, availability of materials, costs, ease of transportation, longevity, and preferences of the beneficiaries.

Safe Passage provides a clinic at their Reinforcement Center. The clinic offers on-site health care for the children enrolled in the program, as well as their direct family members. Medical records are kept, which will enable a controlled experiment to prove the effectiveness of the filters in combating gastrointestinal diseases.

This project is to be viewed as a pilot project, to be replicated and improved upon with demonstrated success. In view of the lifesaving effectiveness, low cost, long life, minimal maintenance, and ease of implementation, we have moved it to the top of our project list.

This project has been fully funded, through the generosity of The Soneva SLOW LIFE Trust as a part of their Clean Water Projects initiative.

This project has been completed. To read about the conclusion of this project, CLICK HERE.