This past year, Premier Water & Energy Technology, Inc., of Jacksonville, Florida, partnered Pure Water for the World (PPW) to support a WASH (water, sanitation and hygiene) project for all of the families in El Tablazo, Honduras.
To help El Tablazo’s community school, Premier Water joined efforts with H2O for Life (an organization whose mission is to provide a service-learning opportunity that helps teachers and students raise awareness about the global water crisis), to fund a comprehensive WASH solution for students of today and future generations.
Following shares a summary of the community, including photos of the very grateful families.
ORIGINAL PROJECT OVERVIEW:
El Tablazo is small community located in the Trojes region of Honduras. There are 23 families, with 108 residents in total. This community is located about an hour from the Coco River (previously called the Segovia River), which divides Honduras from Nicaragua. The river is mostly used to transport commercial goods from La Mosquitía, Honduras to Nicaragua, but is also used for recreation during the summer.
Water sources are abundant in the community of El Tablazo. However, a few years ago, a water quality analysis was conducted, and the results were very worrying. The analysis showed the water is highly contaminated. This helped explain why members of the community have suffered from hepatitis; some have even died from it.
José León Morena (pictured) lives with his wife, Dolores Figueroa, and their nine children and grandchildren in the community of El Tablazo. The family currently uses a water source that another member of the community lends to them.
Knowing that his whole family, and, indeed, the whole community of the Tablazo, only has access to contaminated water, José Morena shares, “We are really grateful to soon benefit from Pure Water for the World’s project of clean water filters and training so that we will finally be able to safely drink water.”
In this region, water quality is a major concern. Results from the water quality test, conducted in November 2019, demonstrated extremely high levels of e-coli (170 counts) and have high levels of turbidity, especially during the rainy season. 34% of the families practice open defecation and the conditions of water and sanitation at the local school of Francisco Morazán are deplorable, with 13 children and one teacher having to practice open defecation, with no place to wash their hands and no place for girls to manage menstruation.
With Premier Water’s sponsorship of El Tablazo, all 23 homes and the community school (funded by both Premier Water and H2O for Life) will gain sustainable access to clean water and sanitation.
- Families will receive BioSand Water Filters and learn to safely use this water for drinking, bathing, washing, and cleaning.
- The families that do not have a safe and reliable latrine, will learn how to build a latrine, receiving detailed instruction, materials and follow-up from PWW to support the proper construction and use of their home latrine.
- Hygiene education will be provided to all members of the community, including:
- Environmental hygiene, which includes water source protection practices;
- Home hygiene;
- Personal hygiene, including proper handwashing techniques;
- Menstrual hygiene management.
- Community members will select Community Agents, leaders from the community who volunteer to serve as an extension of the PWW team. They receive additional training about the water filters, including how to install them correctly and how to maintain them. Community Agents are assigned three homes to support and monitor. They visit these homes to ensure families are using their tools and hygiene practices correctly and effectively.
- Teachers will receive training and mentoring on how to integrate WASH in the school curriculum.
- The school will also receive a complete WASH station, with gender-specific latrines and a handwashing station. PVC piping will transport water from the source to the school, providing regularly available access to water at the school. Students will be able to focus on learning, rather than walking and collecting water!
- The PWW team will monitor this community, at regular intervals, to measure impact and support the program’s long-term sustainability.
Family Homes Project Update #1:
On March 16, 2020, the Honduran government shut down all non-essential businesses, including PWW, in response to COVID-19. While a limited number of PWW staff was given special permission to work on key projects and programs, work with individual homes had been halted. In mid-June, the Honduran government lifted some of these restrictions, issuing permission for up to 60% of staff (depending on region) to return to their work activities, maintaining strict protocols of biosecurity to prevent the transmission of COVID.
In Trojes, the region where El Tablazo is located, the PWW team was able to get back to work in June! All PWW team members received detailed instruction regarding the new required protocols, including the use of personal protection equipment and biosecurity necessary to keep both our staff and the families we visit protected.
The PWW team let the families of El Tablazo know we would be coming to work in their community again. They first hosted an open-air, outdoor meeting with community leaders to build confidence and explain the new procedures. This was an important step to help families feel comfortable and safe with our team going into their homes to install the biosand water filters.
El Tablazo is a difficult community to reach, as it requires crossing a river. The PWW team had to ride in a canoe to deliver and distribute the 23 biosand filters. Once the river was crossed, the filters were carried by horse to a central location where families came to collect their filters and bring back to their homes. A PWW team member, along with a Community Agent (a local volunteer community member), would then visit each of the 23 homes to install the filters.
The family in the photos is Novis Noel González Espinoza. They have eight family members who live in their home. They were very excited and thankful when PWW came to install the filter. They shared that they had concerns that the PWW team was not going to return to El Tablazo because of COVID19. They congratulated the PWW team for having the courage to return to help them. Novis said, “We were worried about not having clean water, especially now that the rainy season has started. The water we were drinking looks like chocolate and tastes like dirt. We really don’t want to get sick, as hospitals may have patients with COVID19.”
A total of 10 filters were installed last week, with the rest scheduled for this week when the PWW team returns to El Tablazo. Photo of the Gonzales family, with some of its members.
Filter Installations, Safe Water Storage and Latrine Construction in Homes.
In August 2020, PWW team members finalized constructing the last of the 8 home latrines. The families are required to dig the pit, prepare the adobe blocks, and gather local materials for the concrete mixtures. Due to the heavy rains, construction was challenging. Nevertheless, the most gratifying part of the difficulties is that now families, and especially the children, have a safe and private space (latrine) to do their necessities. They no longer have to go out in the open. This is incredibly empowering and supports their long-term health and wellbeing.
The timing was also perfect to install the remaining biosand water filters. The source water that these families use contains high levels of contamination and turbidity, especially during the rainy season. Today, these 23 families have clean water filters that remove these contaminants and turbidity, along with safe storage containers, in their homes. Thanks to Premier Water’s sponsorship, 108 people now have access to clean drinking water every day.
We offer special recognition to the trained Community Agents who, with the mentorship of PWW health promoters, did a magnificent job installing the biosand filters (as part of their training) and demonstrated a high degree of confidence in their work.
Most of the trainings took place before March, when we were still able to enjoy each minute with the group of eager families and children at schools. All received training about the importance of healthy hygiene practices, including personal hygiene, environmental hygiene (which includes water source protection), home hygiene, and menstrual hygiene management (which empowers girls to protect themselves and stay in school and achieve an education).
Parents helped dig the pits and painted the walls of the school handwashing and latrine (WASH) station, as PWW team members worked on the latrine slabs and the placement of the rooftops for the WASH station. The WASH station, with gender-specific latrines and handwashing station are completed!
One kilometer of piping was installed from the water source to complete the WASH station at the local school. Students will no longer have to spend time walking to collect water for the school.
When the children return to school, they will have clean water, a place to wash their hands, and a safe and private place to use the bathroom…for the first time ever! They can focus on learning, achieving an education, and reaching for their dreams!
On behalf of the grateful families of El Tablazo and the entire PWW team, a heartfelt thank you to Premier Water for making this possible. Your support has empowered these families with the essential tools and knowledge to protect their overall health, safety, and wellbeing. Your support has also empowered the entire community of El Tablazo with the foundation for greater resilience and a stronger economy. Thank you so much.
We also thank H2O for Life for your mission of ending the global water crisis and for your generous support in helping to make the school of El Tablazo safe and optimal for the students to learn, achieve and succeed!