In 1993, Xela AID launched an in-home Clean Water Initiative which provided water purification buckets to more than forty homes in San Martín Chiquito, and Loblatzan. This seed project had a measurable impact on the health of families that had received units, and paved the way for an influx of home units. This was accomplished over time by Xela AID and other NGOs over time. While a number of the units are in use, a broad campaign that includes a significant education component has yet to be undertaken.
New Initiative — Assessments done in 2009 determined that water quality used for human consumption was of extremely poor quality. Tests conducted on several water sources (springs, a municipal well, home taps and other local wells) indicated high levels of contamination with fecal coliform bacteria (below, left)
This initiative has been designed to substantially improve the potability and general quality of the water supply in the region, as well as the local capacity of health workers to monitor the water quality. It will improve the laboratory capacity of the existing clinic to better detect enteric and other bacteriological diseases, purify the water at the home and the municipality level, and create a sustainable water supply to meet today’s and future needs of the community.
Phase 1: Building the Foundation of a Safe Drinking Water System
(a) Purchase, training and deployment of a portable water quality laboratory with the local health department (see affordable, technologically appropriate "Ecoflitro" system at right)
(b) Installation of appropriate-technology water filters in all of the households of the target area;
(c) Instrumentation of the Disease Diagnosis Clinic Laboratory at the Xela AID clinic in San martin; and
(d) Education programon water quality using a custom puppet theater and special content to address the water quality and disease issues.
Phase 2: Guaranteeing Clean Water Supply for All
(a) Evaluation and improvement of local water supplies, including spring capture basins, municipal well, water delivery system and home wells;
(b) Installation of permanent chlorinators and ozonifiers at key points on the distribution network; and
(c) Training and development of a business plan for the sustainable management of the improved drinking water systems.
Below: (left) PVC delivery system common to highland villages that delivers water from nearby springs, but may also introduce contaminates. (right) Example of a water treatment plant with capacity for water treatment for a small community.
Phase 3: Preserving Future Drinking Water Availability and Quality
(a) Create a series of “Mountaintop Preserves” by selectively purchasing and protecting the water sources and forests that supply and maintain them; and
(b) Develop the local capacity to improve and expand the water preserves through reforestation, creating local native tree nurseries, an education campaign and a sustainable business model.
Below: (left) Forested hilltops such as these are essential to maintain water flow in mountanside streams and springs. Deforestation up the steep slopes threatens these potential water preserves. (right) Soil and water conservation practices can be improved in the fields and help the conservation of water as well.