Water Charity Partnership with Peace Corps in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador

After Peace Corps Volunteers were evacuated from Bolivia in September, 2008, it became necessary for Water Charity to put several projects which were underway there on hold. We were then left with the capacity to undertake additional projects elsewhere.

Copan, GuatemalaIn December, we traveled to Central America and met with representatives of the Peace Corps in Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador. In each country, we discussed new procedures for working with Volunteers in the field, and we have developed many new projects to fill the void.

The Peace Corps has a large presence in each of these three countries. At present, the number of Volunteers in each country is as follows:

Guatemala – 184 Volunteers
Honduras – 194 Volunteers
El Salvador – 175 Volunteers

The emphasis and organization of each country office is different, but all of the Peace Corps programs contain elements relating to water, sanitation, and health education.

In general, Peace Corps Volunteers are assigned to communities in outlying areas. They become an integral part of their town, and work alongside the local population. They have a unique ability to determine the specific needs of their own communities.

In many cases, there are projects that were begun at some time in the past, but not completed due to lack of materials or funds. In others, there are simple projects that would complement existing facilities, and greatly impact on the health and wellbeing of the people.

Examples of projects that can be done quickly and easily are pump repairs, handwashing stations, latrines, water storage tanks, water catchment systems, piping systems, pump installation, and water filtration capability.

Often Volunteers are able to identify Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) that have done work in their community or neighboring areas. With Volunteers on site to plan with and oversee the work of the NGOs, projects can be done without delay.

Volunteers and NGOs are in a unique position to work with leaders of the community as well as other governmental entities that affect the region.

The work with NGOs carries with it the added benefit of stimulating the economy by providing work for local companies that will be there to maintain the facilities and undertake further projects. Supporting local businesses leads to employment opportunities for rural residents, and cuts into the flow of the youth to overpopulated urban areas.

A model evolved for Water Charity to provide funding for rural projects in partnership with the Peace Corps. Two channels are available for use, depending on the individual projects and circumstances.

The first and most obvious is for each Volunteer to “package” his or her project, and submit it to the Peace Corps Partnership Program (PCPP). This program is administered in Washington and is accessible on line. The Volunteer completes a simple description and budget for the project, and uploads it to the national Peace Corps website. Water Charity can then fund the project with a few mouse clicks. You can read about the PCPP here

The PCPP has had varying effectiveness in the past because of inherent delays. If a Volunteer was nearing the end of his term of service, the funds might not become available for the project before the Volunteer had gone home. Recent developments have sped up the process, such that it has now become a viable solution for funding projects.

The second channel is for the NGO, in cooperation with the Volunteer, to develop the project and submit the proposed project through the Volunteer to Water Charity. We are able to contract with, and provide funds directly to, the NGO. The Volunteer can work with the NGO, assuring compliance and transparency.

We are very excited about these new partnerships, as they allow us to implement real and necessary projects immediately. We will keep you updated as these projects are carried out.

If you are convinced of the efficacy of this model, you can designate that your Donation be applied to our Water Charity Peace Corps program. If you prefer that your donation be used in a specific country, we will honor your request for that as well.