Safe Water Project: A Lesson in Municipal Engagement in Rural Peru

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By Alexis Limberakis, Director – Environmental Sustainability & Andreina Febres, Safe Water Project Manager

Sara amigos March2015 (2)We recently returned from another visit to Tambogrande, Peru to facilitate the installation of community bleach dispensers and educate the public on the importance of safe water practices. We were once again struck by the gratitude of the project communities that Safe Water Project supports.  But this time, we noticed a tipping point among municipal leaders; we now see the  leadership’s engagement in improving public health.

Positive changes at the District level
After more than three years, we’ve observed how Tambogrande leaders feel more empowered after seeing the Safe Water Project in action. They realize that it’s possible to improve the health and the lives of their people.  In recent months, there has been an exciting development in Tambogrande. The District-level institutions are engaged, collaborating, and taking action against the water issues in the area.  A multi-stakeholder “Agua Segura” committee made up of public water and health-related entities, along with our Safe Water NGO partner PRISMA, has formed and meets regularly to tackle the water issues faced in the District.

And in just three short months after taking office, the newly elected Mayor of Tambogrande has already taken steps to address some of the most crucial problems that thousands of families experience every day.  He ordered a new, much-needed water truck, re-started a stalled project to build a second municipal water treatment facility, and committed to building 15 wells to serve some of the more remote communities in the District.

For the first time, the “Safe Water Project” has the local support that we were hoping for since the beginning; the Mayor of Tambogrande is engaged and asking how the government can help to make the Safe Water Project more successful.

Community water leaders continue to show care and pride in managing the bleach dispensers and encouraging their community members to treat their water.  Some have even meticulously fenced off the area surrounding the dispensers and water collection point to keep the area clean and protected from roaming donkeys, pigs, and chickens.


Meeting with El Papayo community leaders

Detailed fence for dispensers at el Papayo, to protect bleach dispensers from animals

Detailed fence for dispensers to protect bleach dispensers from animals in el Papayo

Peru March2015 Meeting with Major

Meeting with the Major of Tambogrande, his team and our Safe Water team


Connecting with old and new friends

What always sits with us longest after these trips are the personal connections we make – and how meaningful it is both to us and to the people we visit that we do just that – visit.  We were able to see Sara, our dear girl from Santa Anita, who’s been featured on our videos, website, and other project communications, for the 3rd trip since the video was recorded:

Sara (in purple) & her family watching the Safe Water video, in which she’s the star in December 2013

Sara (in purple) & her family watching the Safe Water video, in which she’s the star, in December 2013

Sara familia June2014

Sara (in blue) with her family and the Safe Water team in June 2015

Peru March2015 (135)

Sara with her friends in March 2015

In one of the recent project expansion communities named El Papayo, we introduced our team and mentioned that we came from the US. The local water committee leaders were shocked to learn that we came from so far to visit them. We were brought to tears by the look of amazement in one man’s eyes when he told us he couldn’t believe people from California (where Clorox is headquartered) actually cared about the health of his small and remote village.  But that is starting to change.

Alexis Limberakis & Andreina Febres during their March 2015 visit to the communities in Tambogrande

Andreina Febres, Alexis Limberakis and Karem Delgado in March 2015 during a visit to the communities in Tambogrande


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Safe Water Project – Visiting the Villages of Northern Peru


To support this initiative and help raise awareness about the importance of safe water, tweet to#SafeWaterProject or #ProyectoAguaSegura by June 30th, 2015.   For each tweet, Clorox will donate $1, up to $20,000. Your tweet will provide safe water to one Peruvian for nearly four months.