Safe Water Project: Reflections From Our NGO Partner
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.
By Karem Delgado, PRISMA Safe Water Project Coordinator
Four years ago, Clorox and PRISMA established a partnership to work towards improving the quality of drinking water in Piura, Peru. What began in 2011 as an initiative serving 4,000 people, will, by July of this year, reach 25,000 individuals in some of the most rural areas of Peru.
To provide a little context, PRISMA is a Peruvian nonprofit organization that focuses on strengthening the resources of the poor and other vulnerable groups to help them improve their own economic and social conditions. For the past 28 years, we’ve developed programs throughout Peru that address many different aspects of development, including health and nutrition, agriculture, the environment and local government.
Our experience on the field over the years has made us more sensitive to the importance of safe water and adequate sanitation to fight malnutrition and improve families’ health. It seemed a natural fit, then, when Clorox approached us to launch a Safe Water Project in Peru.
Clorox wanted to reach beyond the urban areas into rural communities in the country to provide safe drinking water to those without access to the most basic services, including piped, clean water. These Peruvians must wait for a water truck to fill their communal tank weekly, or, if the truck doesn’t arrive, draw water from river water polluted with animal waste.
Given just how remote these communities are, we choose to replicate a strategy successfully used in Africa that places bleach dispensers next to public water sources for easy and fast treatment with standard doses of bleach, which Clorox provides.
I remember when we started looking for communities with public water tanks back in 2011. We arrived at one of the water tanks, where community members were gathered, waiting for the water to arrive. We got out of the car, stepped on the hot sand and felt the intense heat. Regardless of the time they had been waiting in the heat, the community members seemed content and excited to see us. That excitement and interest has continued throughout the four years since we implemented the Safe Water Project.
In addition to maintaining the bleach dispensers, we have developed a strong educational piece that teaches the importance of good hygiene and disinfection. Prior to the project, the idea of “invisible germs” in the water was a foreign concept to most people. Now families more clearly understand that unclean drinking water can lead to illness and death, and that by treating their water, they are protecting themselves.
Between 2012 and 2014, we saw a 61 percent increase in households showing bleach in their drinking water samples. We believe these positive results were because of the simplicity of the dispensers, the constant availability of bleach and the motivation among families that see their peers treating their drinking water.
From those first trips scouting out potential communities in 2011 to our upcoming launch in several new communities in July, it’s been an honor to be a part of a project that equips people with the knowledge and means to better protect their families’ health.