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Water Quality in HondurasHonduras, a country in Central America, has a population of 9.1 million people. The country’s primary languages are Spanish, English, and various indigenous languages. Honduras’s life expectancy is an impressive 74.6 years, 3.2 years longer than the global average.

However, Honduras’s above average life expectancy is not necessarily a reliable indicator of superb living or health conditions in the country. A reported 84 percent of the Honduras’s population have rural access to clean water, meaning that 16 percent of the country’s people do not.

This rate is higher than the global average of people who do not have access to clean water, which, as reported earlier this year, is 1 in 10 people. Despite the fact that this rate is less than double the global average, this statistic still means that 638,000 people in Honduras do not have access to safe water.

The lack of access to good water quality in Honduras demonstrates a divide between rural populations and the rest of the country’s people. This divide stems from the fact that people in rural communities often rely on small springs to obtain their water and this water is often contaminated and is not always reliable throughout every season.

Additionally, Honduras’s poverty is interfering with which groups of people in the country have access to clean drinking water. As the second poorest country in Central America, around 63 percent of Honduras’s population is reported to be living below the poverty line. Data on financial inclusion reports that families with lower incomes tend to not have as much access to improved water quality in Honduras because of their inability to afford it.

Organizations such as Water for People have been working to remedy the issue of water quality in Honduras, specifically aiming to help people in the country that need the most assistance, such as rural populations.

Water for People started its work in Honduras in 1997 and by 2006, only nine years later, the organization had aided over 90 rural communities in partnership with similar organizations. A year later, Water for People created a strategy specific to this region in order to better provide access to clean water for all of the different populations.

Though Honduras has a higher percent of people without access to clean water when compared to the global average, the country has made significant progress in this area. Honduras met the Millennium Development Goal to reduce the amount of people without access to sanitary water by half by the year 2015. Honduras was one of the only Latin American countries to meet this goal.

– Haley Rogers

Photo: Flickr

Ending Water Scarcity
An international organization believes in ending water scarcity in developing countries. Water For People is a non-profit that focuses on establishing proper infrastructure and sanitation to remedy the lack of clean water around the globe.

They are especially concerned with the impact water scarcity has on women and girls, who often bear the burden for water collection.

They work at the ground level to build trust within the community and by tailoring their solutions to the issues at hand. Local governments, community members and business owners are all required to co-invest, ensuring that all partners have an equal stake in the results. This collaboration allows for a better understanding the abilities of a community to finance and maintain the projects for the future.

The U.N. states that more than 2 billion people are affected by water scarcity. That figure is expected to rise due to climate change. This is especially problematic for developing countries struggling with poverty.

According to Jim Yong Kim, president of the World Bank Group, “Economic growth in some regions could be cut by as much as six percent because of water scarcity alone.”

That is why one of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals for 2030 includes improved access to clean water and sanitation. There are several targets for doing so, including moves to:

  1. End open defecation, which can threaten the viability of water resources;
  2. Improve water quality by reducing pollution, dumping and the release of hazardous materials;
  3. Protect and restore water-related ecosystems;
  4. Support the participation of local communities in improving water management;

This last target is where Water For People comes in. The organization, which was established by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) in 1991, has provided access to clean water in nine developing countries: Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Peru, Malawi, Rwanda, Uganda and India.

Sanjay Wijesekera, UNICEF’s global head of water, sanitation and hygiene put it simply: “No matter where you look, access to clean drinking water makes a difference in the lives of people.”

The fight for ending water scarcity is ongoing but there continues to be an increase in access to clean water thanks to Water For People.

Sabrina Santos

Photo: Flickr

Water Quality in Peru
Water quality in Peru is a major problem. According to water.org, 4 million Peruvians don’t have access to clean water. Tap water in Peru must be boiled for at least one minute or purified using other methods to be safe for drinking.

According to Scientific American, as water shortages cause crop failure, people in rural Peru move to the cities. Unemployment and poverty in these urban areas lead to problems involving mental health, alcoholism and domestic violence.

Modern technology is providing new sources of water in Peru, and efforts are being made to improve Peru’s water quality.

Water-Producing Billboard

The University of Engineering and Technology of Peru teamed up with an ad agency to construct a water-producing billboard in Lima. The billboard uses reverse osmosis to capture and filter water from the humid air, store it in 20-liter tanks and provide quality water for the people of Lima every day. In a three month period, the billboard dispensed 9,450 liters of water. This groundbreaking tool may be the first of many to come.

President Kuczynski’s Campaign

Newly elected president of Peru Pedro Pablo Kuczynski has announced a focus on improving health services and water quality in Peru. Kuczynski participated in the Hydroperu 2030 forum in August, in which innovative proposals aimed at establishing a clean water supply were presented.

Water for People-Peru

Water for People-Peru partners with local governments to collect data on water quality in Peru, hire officials committed to water sanitation and create effective improvement strategies. It also builds quality water facilities and has designed and implemented a water education curriculum in six schools.

Sanitation Sector Reform Law

Peru’s Sanitation Sector Reform Law now requires water utilities to conserve watersheds and consider climate change adaptations throughout their operations. This law may initially present some challenges, but in the long run, it may help create a more sustainable water supply.

Lima Water Fund

The Nature Conservancy has partnered with five other organizations to develop the Lima Water Fund. The fund’s focus is environmental conservation through the stabilization of existing slopes and lagoons and the reforestation of watersheds. This committee is working to provide water solutions now and protect the future through education and government partnership.

Government officials and aid organizations will continue to work together to improve water quality in Peru and design creative innovations, building stability for Peru’s future.

Rebecca Causey

Photo: Flickr

Rulindo Challenge
The Rulindo Challenge is an initiative developed in 2010 by the partnership of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Water For People and the Rwandan government. The Challenge acts as a permanent solution to provide full water access to the northern, rural Rwandan province of Rulindo by 2018.

Approximately 285,000 people reside in the Rulindo District. The terrain of the area is mostly hills and valleys, so springs and groundwater make up the main sources of water in Rulindo.

According a report by Water For People, prior to the Rulindo Challenge the area lacked proper standards in terms of the water quality in Rwanda. Only 29 percent of the population had access to safe drinking water and just six percent of water systems were likely to provide sustainable water service.

Rulindo’s 2016 goals include increasing the levels of water access by 11 percent through sustainable water infrastructure, such as installing eight piped water systems in five areas and water tanks in 13 schools. A new health care facility was also constructed as a result of the goals.

The Rulindo Challenge also seeks to increase the newly established water infrastructure’s sustainability to 100 percent at the end of 2016, building the technical and financial capacity needed for two private operators and the district water board members and staff.

To implement these goals, the progressive partnership has developed a systematic approach in order to meet district-wide demands for clean water and sanitation. The joint partners set out to achieve sustainability challenges to meet current local capacity and strength, leveraging locally available resources and striving to serve as a model for replication.

According to a report by Water For People, “community water service has increased 20 percentage points to 49 percent in the district as a result of these activities.” The water and sanitation at schools and clinics also increased drastically to 67 percent in the Rulindo District.

Currently, nearly 118,000 community water beneficiaries, 114 connections at 68 public institution water systems and over 51,500 public water beneficiaries have been created since the beginning of the Rulindo Challenge to improve water quality in Rwanda.

The initiative resulted in improved access to water supply for 60,000 people. In addition, the quality of the water mechanisms are expected to last well into the future. Sustainability measures in 2012 recorded just six percent prior to the Rulindo Challenge.

The increase in sustainability to 89 percent resulted in an 83-point percentage overall improvement. Due to the increased sustainability in the district, the implementation of the strategies and approaches shows that communities and public institutions will have safe, reliable access to drinking water for many years to come.

When the Rulindo Challenge concludes in 2018, the partners will implement a thorough exit strategy to ensure that the maintenance and protection of the water resources remains intact. In addition, the partners will implement a plan for climate change resilience to promote sustainability and access to adequate water sources for generations to come.

Haylee Gardner

Photo: Water for People

cell phone signals
Like many developing or impoverished countries, Rwanda continues to be a victim of inadequate water supply and accessibility. However, a project piloted by an Oregon university may help put a dent in the nation’s water problem.

The idea is to use remote sensors to measure water supply. A project spearheaded by SweetSense Inc., and designed by Sustainable Water, Energy and Environmental Technologies Laboratory (SWEETLab) in partnership with the NGO Living Water International, the sensors will allow water pumps to be installed throughout the nation of Rwanda.

The sensors work by using cell phone signals to transmit details about water pumps through cloud computing infrastructure. The data the sensors collect includes information on water pressure, water quantity and when people are pumping water. Then, the data can be accessed through an online dashboard.

On any given day, thousands of water pumps are installed throughout Africa. Unfortunately, many usually fail within their first several years of implementation, and are never repaired or replaced. With SWEETLab’s sensors, technicians receive notifications by text message to alert them if a pump is broken or needs repair.

With a price tag of approximately $500 per unit, each sensor is battery-operated and is outfitted in a waterproof box. While 30 sensors have been already installed, Living Water International plans to install 200 sensors by the end of the year.

In collaboration with Portland State University, SWEETLab “develops and implements technologies for the support of life in remote environments.” The research organization works with academic institutions, industries and nonprofits throughout the world. Its research “focuses on improving accountability and methodologies for international development through improved data collection.”

SWEETLab has also helped to produce gravity water filters and clean-burning stoves. Kenya, Indonesia, Haiti, Rwanda and other countries have already implemented these technologies for use.

Rwanda is home to over 12 million people. According to Water For People, roughly 69 percent of Rwandans have access to clean water and sanitation services. It is also one of several African countries on target to accomplish seven of the eight Millenium Development Goals by 2015.

– Ethan Safran

Sources: All Africa, All Africa, Forbes, CIA, UNICEF, PDX, Water For People
Photo: Devex

Toilet Hackers
A total of 2.5 billion, or about 40 percent of the world’s population, go through their daily lives without toilets and without satisfying basic sanitation needs. For lack of access to sanitation, one out of every three girls in sub-Saharan Africa drops out of school when they start menstruating, and a child dies every 17 seconds as a result of unclean water and poor hygiene. The members of Toilet Hackers have made it their mission to revolutionize the way people experience hygiene all over the globe.

Toilet Hackers is a nonprofit organization dedicated to developing and implementing successful sanitation projects in regions that lack adequate access to toilets. Their ultimate goal is to provide, in 10 years, a network of 10 million toilets worldwide.

In their first year, Toilet Hackers provided toilets in Kenya, Rwanda and Peru. In their second year, they provided toilets in Colombia, Uganda and Mumbai. In their third year, they have provided toilets in Brazil and Pune.

Additionally, Toilet Hackers clearly outlines how each donation impacts their cause. Their chart features three sections: cost, impact and system. For example, $12.50 impacts one child and can fund a hygiene scholarship, while $10,000 can fund hygiene training and 10 public latrines for up to 800 children and students. For donations in between, $50 can fund a ventilated latrine pit for a family of seven and a donation of $5,000 can fund a sanitation entrepreneur that will provide a village with education, training and access to better sanitation. Moreover, a donation of $1,000 can provide one public toilet with integrated hygiene training for 80 kids or people in a community.

Organizations such as UNICEF, Sprint, Water for People, Expedition Everest, MAMA Hope, Gensler, Falcon Waterfree Technologies, International Medical Corps, Second Muse, Random Hacks of Kindness and the Water and Sanitation Program have all partnered with Toilet Hackers to help them achieve their goal.

— Jordyn Horowitz

Sources: Huff Post, Gloabal Citizen, Toilet Hackers
Photo: WordPress

FLOW_Cellular_Well_Development
By harnessing new technologies, the developing world has been getting crucial information about its water systems. Android, one of the most popular smartphone brands, has recently released an app that can help people in developing nations detect if the water they have access to is clean.

The new app is called FLOW, or Field Levels Operations Watch. FLOW also lets people in developing nations take pictures of broken water pumps. FLOW is monitored by nonprofit charities which respond to the complaints and posted photos. These charities install new, working water pumps in order to grant people in struggling nations access to potable water.

According to Ned Breslin, CEO of the water charity called Water for People, it is crucial to install working water pumps as soon as possible. Breslin explains that during one of his previous trips to Ghana, he met a mother who had lost her child due to contaminated water caused by a broken water pump. He believes that the Android app can provide instant and crucial steps toward accessing clean water.

According to Breslin, the Android app provides anyone who comes into contact with a broken water pump an opportunity to fix the problem.  Along with the picture, FLOW provides the GPS positioning of the broken water pump so that water charities know exactly where to go in order to fix the problem.

Overall, charities as well as people in developing nations have given positive feedback to the developers. In turn, developers predict that the app will be replicated by other nonprofits in the future.

– Stephanie Olaya

Sources: Filters Fast, CNET